meet the cnx23 staff

AdministratiVe Team

Nick Riley Ensemble Director

Michael Reese Ensemble Director

Andre Rodriguez Support Staff

Barb Terrell Support Staff

Cierra Carr-Brown Support Staff & Public Health Advisor

 

Design team

Nick Riley Program Coordinator

Drew Brown Program Coordinator

Ryan Ellis Artistic Director, Battery Arranger/Composer, & Visual Designer

Andrew Markworth Front Ensemble Arranger/Composer

Danielle Marquardt Choreographer

Molly Favret Artistic, Set, and Uniform Designer

 

 

Battery Staff

Sean Girvin  Coordinator

Jordan Kracus

Danny Groh

Josh Green

Dylan Sammons

Wesley Kopis

RJ Schaefer

Ethan Wright

Dr. Alyssa Iwinski

Zac Sterling

James Nelson

Kristin Smith

Bryce Hopwood

David Peterson

Front Ensemble Staff

Michael Reese  Coordinator

Nick Riley

Eric Zielsdorf

Anthony Gilleland

Evan Sasowsky

Dan Moell

 

Audio Staff

Zach Albert  Coordinator

Trey Singleton

Visual Staff

Andrew Polk  Coordinator

Danielle Marquardt

Kristen Mitzel

Ian Anstaett

Carlee McAfee

 

nick riley

Ensemble Director, program coordinator, Ensemble Specialist, & front ensemble technician

President, CPAA, Inc. Board of Directors

Nick Riley is thrilled to return to ConneXus for his 11th season in 2023.

Currently, Nick serves as the Ensemble Director, Program Coordinator, Ensemble Specialist, and Front Ensemble Technician for ConneXus and has previously held numerous other administrative, creative, and instructional roles since co-founding the ensemble in the summer of 2012. Nick has also served as President of the ConneXus Performing Arts Association, Inc. Board of Directors since 2016.

Nick has been involved in the pageantry arts as a performer, instructor, composer/arranger, ensemble administrator, and adjudicator since 2003.  Nick is currently pursuing his Master of Arts degree in Music Education at The Ohio State University.  As a Graduate Teaching Associate for the School of Music, he is responsible for supervising student teachers and conducting music education research.  Prior to pursuing his graduate studies full-time, Nick was the Director of Bands for Liberty Center Local Schools in northwest Ohio from 2012 to 2021.  Under his direction, the band program at Liberty Center doubled in size and boasted highly successful marching, concert, and chamber ensembles.  Nick earned his Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from Capital University in 2011.  Some of Nick’s notable former teachers include: James Swearingen, Bob Breithaupt, Nate Anders, Eric Paton, Tony Zilincik, Dr. Dina Lentsner, Dr. Barry E. Kopetz, Jim Leslie, Wayne Markworth, Andrew Markworth, Ross Williams, Allen Justus, and Tim Fairbanks.

Nick is the founder of the web-based pageantry arts music design business NPR Marching Concepts: The Music of Nick Riley where has has composed nearly 600 works for over 60 ensembles since beginning his writing career in 2007. A prolific composer for marching bands, indoor percussion ensembles, drum corps, and winter winds, Nick’s compositions can be heard across the United States and South America. In addition to publishing his own work, Nick’s compositions for indoor percussion are published by Gary P. Gilroy Publications and Marching Show Concepts.

Nick is an accomplished adjudicator for the pageantry arts, judging actively for the Central States Judges Association since 2013 and the Ohio Music Education Association since 2012. Specializing in music general effect, music performance, and percussion, he has judged in seven states and has been included on local and championship-level adjudication panels. He has been selected to adjudicate the Mid-States Band Association Circuit Championships annually since 2017.

Nick’s previous staff assignments reflect a diverse background in the pageantry arts. He has served as the Assistant Visual Supervisor for Legends Drum & Bugle Corps (2011-2013), a Percussion Consultant for The Ohio State University Marching Band (2011-2014), Front Ensemble Instructor for Pioneer Drum & Bugle Corps (2014), and Visual Technician for the Colts Drum & Bugle Corps (2016). Nick is currently the Percussion Composer/Arranger for the Gran Banda Drum & Bugle Corps of Medellin, Colombia, South America, where he has served on both the percussion and visual staffs since 2014. The “GB” is the 2014 DCI SoundSport Champion, runner up in 2017, and the first ensemble from South America to perform in DCI events.

Nick is a member of OMEA, CSJA, PFCJ, NAfME, and PAS. Nick holds endorsements from Vic Firth and Black Swamp Percussion.

A native of Centerville, Ohio, Nick currently lives in Columbus, Ohio.

Michael Reese

Ensemble Director & front ensemble coordinator

Member, CPAA, Inc. Board of Directors

Educational Director, ConneXion

Michael Reese is in his sixth year as the Assistant Director of Bands for the Elida Local School District in Elida, Ohio. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Marietta College and is currently working on his Master’s Degree from Ohio University.

During his marching career, Michael performed with Cap City Percussion, Legends Drum and Bugle Corps, Rhythm X, and the Madison Scouts.

Michael also serves as a front ensemble technician for the Madison Scouts. He has been part of the ConneXus staff since the 2018 season.

drew brown

Program Coordinator

Vice President, CPAA, Inc. Board of Directors

Drew Brown has been involved with the marching arts since 2001 as a performer, educator, and
designer. He is currently the Program Coordinator of ConneXus and Vice President of the ConneXus Performing Arts Association, Inc. Board of Directors.

From 2015-2019, Drew worked with the Colts Drum & Bugle Corps as a front ensemble technician, front ensemble coordinator, and electronics coordinator. In 2020 and 2021, Drew worked with the Crossmen Drum & Bugle Corps as a front ensemble technician.

Currently, Drew is the Percussion Director for Beavercreek City Schools, where he teaches marching band, indoor percussion ensemble, and classroom percussion to high school and middle school students in the district.

Drew studied music education, composition, and percussion performance at Bowling Green State University, Wright State University, and the University of Cincinnati – College-Conservatory of Music.

Drew is proud to be endorsed by Innovative Percussion, Evans Drumheads, Sabian Cymbals, and
Ludwig/Musser.

He currently resides in Dayton, OH with his wife, Cierra, and their dogs, Bobo and Duke.

andrew markworth

front ensemble composer/arranger

Andrew Markworth is a composer, arranger and consultant writing wind, front ensemble and battery percussion for marching bands, indoor drumlines and drum corps.

He is currently the music arranger and coordinator for the Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corps from San Antonio, TX and The Company Performance Ensemble of Great Britain. He also is the music director for Rhythm X; both the 3 time gold medalist percussion group (2008, 2009, 2013) and the 2 time gold medalist winds group (2015, 2017). Andrew was the Front Ensemble Arranger/Coordinator for Carolina Crown from 2007-2014.

Andrew currently resides in Centerville, Ohio with his wife Kara, daughter Natalie, and son Brady.

ryan ellis

Artistic Director, battery composer/arranger, & visual designer

Ryan Ellis is an active battery arranger, visual designer, and drill writer for marching bands, indoor drumlines, and drum corps. He has performed with Rhythm X, Blue Devils Drum & Bugle Corps, Bluecoats Drum & Bugle Corps, and the Spirit of Atlanta Drum & Bugle Corps.

Ryan currently serves as both the Percussion Caption Head and Battery Arranger for the Madison Scouts Drum & Bugle Corps. 

Ryan currently lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with his wife Kayla.

 

Danielle Marquardt

choreographer & movement designer

Danielle has been involved in the WGI and DCI community for over a decade, establishing herself in the Kentucky and Ohio area. She performed with Bluecoats Drum & Bugle Corps, Lexis Winterguard, Zydeco Colorguard, Juxtaposition Winterguard, and Pride of Cincinnati’s Dance Ensemble. Danielle has taught indoor programs including Kettering Fairmont, Centerville, Bellbrook, Lafayette, ConneXus, Rhythm X, Allegoria WG, and Juxtaposition WG. Her DCI background consists of teaching for the Colts, Crossmen, Troopers, and most recently, the 2021 and 2022 Cadets.

In her time outside of all-things-band, Danielle enjoys working at a local florist, teaching her high school program, geeking out over corgis, and many other things. She is more than thrilled to be returning to the ConneXus Family for the 2023 season! 

molly favret

artistic, set, & uniform designer

Sean Girvin

Battery Coordinator

Sean began his performance career with Westerville North High School in 2012. He then went on to march his first season with ConneXus in 2016. He continued with the group through their transition to World Class in 2019 and marched his final season in 2020. Sean also spent one summer with the Crossmen in 2016 and one summer with Carolina Crown in 2018.

He has spent time teaching at a few high schools in the Cincinnati area including Oak Hills High School, Forest Hills High School, and Milford High School where he has served as the battery coordinator since 2021. Sean spent the winter of 2022 as a snare tech with ConneXus and joined the Cincinnati Tradition Drum & Bugle Corps percussion staff in the summer of 2022.

Sean lives in Cincinnati, Ohio where he received a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from the University of Cincinnati and is looking to continue his education in the field of physical therapy.

Andrew Polk

Visual Coordinator

Throughout his time in the marching arts, Andrew performed with The Crossmen, The Cavaliers, ConneXus, and Rhythm X as a snare drummer. In addition to serving as the Visual Coordinator for ConneXus this year, he works on the Battery Visual Staff at The Cavaliers.

Andrew received his B.S. in Education from Miami University in 2021. He is from Dayton, Ohio, where he currently pursues his passions as a high school English teacher.

Zach Albert

Audio Coordinator

Zach Albert has been involved in the marching arts since 1992. He is currently the audio engineer for several high school groups including Archbishop Alter High School (Kettering, OH) where he has helped win 8 state championships, multiple BOA regional class championships and multiple BOA National Semifinals placements.

Zach interned as an audio engineer with local studios and music venues. After completing his internship, he went on to work as an audio engineer for local music venues, theater productions, and recording studios.

Zach is an avid multi-instrumentalist and has performed as a musician in numerous musical theater productions and with his own bands.

Zach currently lives in Dayton with his wife of 21 years Jamie and his daughter Ashley.

Jordan Kracus

Snare technician

Jordan started his marching career in 2011 at Xenia High School and moved to Bellbrook High School in 2014.

After graduating, he spent the summer of 2016 on tour in Crossmen’s snareline and spent the next 3 winters in ConneXus where he aged out during their first year in PIW in 2019.

He has taught at several schools in the Dayton area including Bellbrook High School, Kettering Fairmont High School, Milford High School, and Northmont High School where he was the battery arranger/coordinator.  2023 is Jordan’s second season on staff with ConneXus.

 

Danny Groh

Snare Technician

Danny Groh has been playing drum set since he was a child and played his first professional gig at the age of 13. This led him to study at the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. There he studied under Cincinnati legends John von Olen and Art Gore.

After a few years at CCM, Danny left to pursue playing and teaching throughout the city. Since then he has toured across the country as a drummer and bassist, worked with 7 band programs in southern Ohio, and amassed a lesson studio of 17 students a week.

He is an alumnus of ConneXus, Cap City, Colts Drum & Bugle Corps, and the U.C. Marching Band. Danny is the Percussion Director and Battery Arranger for Taylor High School and has been on staff with Triple Crown Percussion and Cincinnati Tradition Drum & Bugle Corps.

josh green

snare Technician

Originally from Hebron, Ohio, Josh Green started his marching career in 2013 at Lakewood High School. Throughout college, he was a member of the Ohio University Marching 110 where he played snare for 5 years, serving as the section leader of the drumline for the 2020 and 2021 seasons. Furthermore, he performed with the Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corps from 2020-2021 and ConneXus in 2020 and 2022.

Josh has had the opportunity to arrange and compose for the Marching 110 Drumline as well as several high schools throughout Ohio. He continues to work as a freelance battery arranger/composer, instructor, and private lesson teacher. Josh currently serves on the staff at Columbus Saints Drum & Bugle Corps as a battery technician.

Josh earned a Bachelor of Science in Communications from Ohio University.  2023 is Josh’s first season on staff with ConneXus.

Dylan sammons

tenor technician

Dylan Sammons began his marching career in 2011 with Milford High School in Cincinnati, OH. He began his time in the independent scene marching tenors with ConneXus in 2018, and stayed until his age out in 2020. He was also a member of the 2018 Madison Scouts.

His instructional experience includes teaching the battery at multiple schools around the Cincinnati/Dayton area. Currently, he resides in Cincinnati where he is the tenor technician at Milford High School.  2023 is Dylan’s second season on staff with ConneXus.

wesley kopis

Tenor Technician

Wesley Kopis is a world class marching performer and educator based out of Indianapolis, Indiana. Attending Martinsville High School, his love for the activity began the moment he first saw it live. He immediately dedicated himself to building his skills to march at the highest level. Wesley graduated an award-winning music student, and a 5-time gold medalist in ISSMA State Solo and Ensemble, two of which were perfect scores on quads. 

His independent experience began in 2018 with two-time DCA Open Class Finalist Cincinnati Tradition Drum & Bugle Corps. He spent his last two seasons with the Colts Drum & Bugle Corps. For indoor percussion, Wesley devoted himself to Indiana’s indoor scene performing with INOV8 in 2019 and Veritas in 2020-22. 

As an educator, he has served as a battery technician for Southport High School (Indiana), Cincinnati Tradition, and Jersey Surf. He currently attends Indiana University where he is studying Social Studies Education. 

Wesley is elated to be on staff with ConneXus. His deep passion and love for the activity is contagious, and he lives to give his students the tools to reach their true potential. He’s ready to work hard with the rest of the CNX team for 2023! 

RJ Schaefer

Tenor Technician

RJ Schaefer is a composer, educator, and performer based in southwest Ohio.

RJ earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music and Arts Administration with minors in Music Composition and Percussion Performance from Miami University.  RJ has performed in the marching arts with Rhythm X, the Cavaliers, the Madison Scouts, and Cap City Percussion. 

RJ currently teaches at the Madison Scouts, Fairfield HS, and Centerville HS.  2023 will be RJ’s first year on staff with ConneXus.

Ethan Wright

bass drum technician

 

An Indianapolis native, Ethan got his start as a performer with the Center Grove High School band and indoor percussion programs and has been an active member of the community ever since. After graduating, he went on to perform with Legacy Indoor Percussion, Matrix Open, Matrix World, and Pacific Crest Drum & Bugle Corps.

Since his days as a member, Ethan has served as an instructor for many local high school programs and is currently the battery coordinator at Franklin Community High School and a bass technician at Center Grove High School. He has also been a staff member at Veritas Independent, Music City Drum & Bugle Corps, and Spirit of Atlanta.

He currently resides in Indianapolis, IN where he works as a Software Engineer and UI/UX Designer while a full-time student studying Visual Communication. You can also see him performing with the Indianapolis Colts Drumline.

Ethan is excited to return to ConneXus for another great season.

 

James Nelson

bass drum technician

James Nelson began his marching career in in 2006 with Lexington High School in Lexington, South Carolina. Later, he transitioned to Beavercreek High School in Beavercreek, OH. After graduation he continued his marching career with Spirit of Atlanta in the 2011 and 2013 seasons.

His instructional period starts in 2012 as a bass drum tech for Beavercreek. He has since moved on to being one of the battery techs for the ensemble. James was one of the key inspirations for bringing back Beavercreek’s Indoor Percussion Ensemble in 2015.

2023 is James’ second season on staff with ConneXus.

Dr. Alyssa Iwinski

Bass Technician

  
Alyssa Iwinski has been a part of the marching arts since 2007, having marched with groups including Phantom Regiment, Tates Creek Indoor Ensemble, Gateway Indoor, and Matrix Percussion.
Since aging out in 2015 she participated in Matrix Taiwan and has taught at Legacy, Veritas, and the Madison Scouts. She is currently practicing as a Doctor of Physical Therapy in an outpatient orthopedic setting, with a special interest in athletic and neurological populations. She has enjoyed integrating skills from her academic background to her passion for education and percussion performance, and has worked as a health and wellness coordinator in the WGI circuit as well.
In her free time, Alyssa enjoys spending time with her husband, cooking and hosting, being active outdoors, and snuggling with her sweet kitten, Amelia. 

Zac Sterling

Bass technician

 

Zac is from O’Fallon, Illinois. He is a classically trained pianist, which has served as the foundation for his musical endeavors. He has been involved in the marching arts since 2007. His marching experience includes Matrix (2015), Gateway Indoor (2014), Carolina Crown (2012), and the Madison Scouts (2010, 2011, 2014). He has also taught and consulted with several independent and scholastic groups around the world.

Zac has a bachelors degree in criminology, a masters in international finance, a masters of business administration, and a doctorate in law. He is a transactional lawyer in his current hometown of Lexington, Kentucky. He is married to Alyssa, with whom he has enjoyed performing, traveling, and raising their cat, Amelia.

kristin smith

cymbal technician & alumni relations coordinator

Member, CPAA Board of Directors

Kristin Smith has been involved in the marching arts since 2004, performing with many ensembles including Pickerington North HS Marching Band, the Pride of Mid-America Marching Band at Ball State University, the Falcon Marching Band at Bowling Green State University, Pioneer Drum & Bugle Corps, and Matrix. 

Her past instructional experience has included percussion and visual instruction for high school and university marching bands, indoor percussion ensembles, and drum corps. 

She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Bowling Green State University and works for OhioHealth Learning in Columbus, Ohio. 

Kristin is excited to start her 9th season with ConneXus!

bryce hopwood

cymbal technician

Bryce began his involvement with the marching arts in 2011 with the Waynesville High School marching band. In 2014 he joined Cincinnati Tradition Drum & Bugle corps where he played bass drum until 2018. Bryce joined ConneXus as a member of the cymbal line in 2018 and returned on bass drum for his age-out season in 2019.

As an instructor, Bryce has held multiple positions with several marching programs across the Dayton area. 2022 will be his second season on staff at ConneXus.

Bryce holds a BA in Music Education from Wright State University. He currently resides in Lima, Ohio, where he teaches middle school band and orchestra at Liberty Arts Magnet School.

 

David Peterson

Cymbal Technician

Coming soon!

 

 

 

Ian Anstaett

Visual Technician

Coming soon!

 

 

 

Carlee McAfee

Visual Technician

Carlee McAfee has been a part of the marching arts for almost a decade. Her time in the activity began at Westerville North High School where she was a member of the Westerville Indoor Percussion Ensemble, the 2015 WGI Scholastic A Bronze Medalists. She graduated in 2017 and then transitioned to staff. She was the Visual Coordinator there from 2019-2021.

Carlee was a trumpet player for the Colts Drum & Bugle Corps from 2017-2018. She was also a cymbal player for ConneXus from 2017 through their transition into World Class in 2019.

She has taught at several high schools around Ohio including Westerville North, Central Crossing, and Kettering Fairmont. She has also taught cymbals and choreographed for Westerville Independent Percussion.

Carlee currently serves as a Movement Designer for JJ Visual Design and choreographs for marching bands across the country.

Outside of the marching arts, Carlee graduated in 2020 with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Communications from The Ohio State University with a focus in New Media and Communication Technology.

 

 

Kristen Mitzel

Visual Technician

Kristen began her marching arts career at Firestone High School in Akron, Ohio and went on to march as a visual performer for Matrix for three seasons. Additionally, she has taught several high school color guard and percussion programs throughout Ohio and in 2020, relocated to Dayton, Ohio, where she is the assistant color guard director at Kettering Fairmont High School.

Kristen is currently pursuing two master’s degrees in school counseling and clinical mental health counseling at Wright State University. She is serving as a counseling intern, a graduate assistant for the WSU teacher education department, and also works with her certified therapy dog, Eli, to bring emotional support assistance and education to local area schools.

She is thrilled to come back to marching percussion and to be joining the ConneXus team for 2023!

 

 

Eric Zielsdorf

Front ensemble Technician

As a performer and educator, Eric Zielsdorf continues to push the boundaries of music for the percussion community. Based out of Terre Haute, Indiana, he has held several high school percussion teaching positions across the state, providing opportunities for students to learn lifelong skills while enhancing their musical abilities. He currently teaches the front ensemble at Northview High School, Greenwood Community High School, and Jersey Surf Drum & Bugle Corps.

Eric has significant experience in the marching arts. He spent seven seasons on Drum Corps International’s World Class tour as a front ensemble member. Eric began his marching career with Pioneer Drum & Bugle Corps in 2013. He then joined the Colts Drum & Bugle Corps from 2014-2016, and ended his drum corps career with Carolina Crown Drum & Bugle Corps, marching with the corps from 2017-2019, earning a bronze medal at the 2017 Drum Corps International World Championships.

Eric holds a Master of Music in Percussion Performance from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and a Bachelor of Arts from Carthage College. His teachers include Michael Kozakis, John Tafoya, Kevin Bobo, Joseph Gramley, Joseph Galvin, and Sean Dobbins.

 

 

Anthony Gilleland

Front ensemble Technician

Coming soon!

 

 

 

evan Sasowsky

Front ensemble Technician

Evan Sasowsky is ecstatic to be joining the staff at ConneXus in 2023!

Evan is a front ensemble fanatic, having begun his career as a marching mallet player at the University of Cincinnati. His experience there quickly inspired him to seek independent marching activities, landing him on a marimba at the Notre Dame Indoor Percussion Ensemble (PIA/PIO) in the 2014 WGI season. This first season would prove to be the impetus that drew him to continue a passion for the marching arts, particularly in the realm of indoor pageantry (WGI). Evan followed his first season of indoor with a season at Tates Creek Indoor Ensemble (PIW), where he was the center marimba player and section leader of the front ensemble in the 2015 season. For his final two seasons as a performer in WGI, Evan chose to march at Rhythm X (PIW), where he played marimba for the 2016 and 2017 seasons, marching for his age-out DCI season in 2016 at the Crossmen Drum & Bugle Corps from San Antonio, TX.

Evan has worked with bands of all sizes in southwestern and central Ohio, including Lakota West HS, Fairfield HS, Elder HS, Sycamore HS, Walnut Hills HS, and Conner HS. He also taught at Tates Creek/Triple Crown Indoor, Cincinnati Tradition Drum & Bugle Corps, and Columbus Saints Drum & Bugle Corps.

Evan currently lives in Cincinnati, OH, where he is the Program Coordinator at Columbus Saints, Percussion Director at Conner High School, and Percussion Ensemble Director at Elder High School. He is currently finishing dual degrees in Business Analytics and Information Systems at the University of Cincinnati. In his free time he likes to play video and board games, go to the Ohio Renaissance Festival with his girlfriend Barb, and play with his cats Summer and Jackie.

 

 

Dan Moell

Front ensemble Technician

Dan Moell is a percussion performer and educator from Dayton, OH.

He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Music Performance from Wright State University in 2020. Dan was a member of Rhythm X in 2017 and 2018 attended the Brevard Summer Music Festival in 2018.

As an educator, Dan has been on percussion staff at many high schools in the Dayton area. He served as Percussion Director at Northmont HS and is the current Front Ensemble Coordinator and Concert Percussion Consultant at Centerville HS.

2023 is Dan’s second year with ConneXus.

 

 

trey singleton

Audio Technician

Trey Singleton was a member of ConneXus for 3 seasons. In addition, he has performed with groups such as Madison Scouts Drum & Bugle Corps, Matrix World, Miamisburg High School Indoor Winds, as well as the 2018 Army All-American Marching Band.

Trey holds a dual Bachelor degree in Music and Biology from Wright State University. Currently, he is teaching marching band percussion at both Miamisburg High School and West Carrollton High School and has been teaching marching band since 2018.

Having performed 14 seasons on synth in both outdoor and indoor groups, Trey has many years of experience with music software programs and libraries such as Mainstage and Omnisphere.

 

 

Cierra Carr-Brown

Support Staff & Public Health Advisor

Secretary, CPAA, Inc. Board of Directors

Cierra Carr-Brown’s current work involves women’s health education and community outreach in Southwest Ohio. She has a strong background in healthcare and public health and holds BS in Exercise Physiology and Master of Public Health degrees from West Virginia University. She is currently a Registered Nurse at a Dayton-area hospital.

Cierra’s love of music began with her involvement in marching, concert, and jazz bands at her high school. Since meeting her husband, Drew, she has experienced a rekindled love of music performance and the pageantry arts, and she can be found loudly cheering in the stands during indoor drumline and marching band shows.

2023 is her second year serving on the ConneXus Board of Directors and ConneXus Administration Team.

 

 

 

Andre Rodriguez

Support Staff

Coming soon!

 

 

 

Barb Terrell

Support Staff

Coming soon!