Music City Youth Orchestra


Melanie Conducting

MCYO’s musical staff bring a breadth of experience in both teaching and performing to their work with the orchestra.  Elias is an enthusiastic music educator and conductor, and Tracy and Melanie share a rich background in classical music as well as a love for the diversity of musical expression.  MCYO students are challenged to develop a flexibility of technique and musicianship that will enable them to play whatever style of music they wish.

Elias Salazar, Interim Music Director

Elias Salazar, Interim Music DirectorElias Salazar is a Venezuelan American conductor residing in Nashville, Tennessee. In his short time since entering the conducting spotlight in Nashville, he has appeared with numerous collegiate ensembles and captured audiences' attention with his "precision, clarity, energy, and passion" on the podium. He has recently obtained the position of Interim Music Director with Music City Youth Orchestra and Artistic Director of the Nashville Collegiate Orchestra. Elias recently undertook a large project in the Nashville area to form an orchestra comprised of musicians from Middle Tennessee universities. He and his newly formed Nashville Collegiate Orchestra made up of 50 musicians have been featured in Nashville Arts Magazine's August 2012 issue. They have prepared a debut concert program full of variety; featuring two solo performances and music by Mozart, Grieg, Beethoven, Falla, and young composer, Patrick Dunnevant. Elias constantly seeks to collaborate with young composers. He has commissioned four pieces in the past year; three for the NCO and one for chamber winds and percussion, which he performed on his Senior Recital. He frequently offers opportunities for composers to hear their orchestral projects as well as to receive critical feedback from the NCO. Elias has had previous engagements conducting the Wedgewood Summer Chorale as well as Belmont University's Symphony Orchestra, String Chamber Orchestra, Opera Theatre, Concert Band, Women's Choir, and Chamber Singers in rehearsals and performances. During his undergraduate career at Belmont University, he studied conducting under Dr. Jeffery Ames, Dr. Robert Gregg, Dr. Barry Kraus, and Dr. Jane Warren. He also studied orchestration under Dr. Bill Pursell. Elias received his Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education with choral and instrumental licensure and Classical Performance with a trumpet emphasis. Elias has always had a passion for conducting and will continue pursuing his career conducting groups of all shapes and sizes. His passion for classical music, both choral and instrumental, drives him to strive for excellence in his technique, preparation, collaboration, interpretation, and performances.  

Melanie Parobek, Chamber Ensemble Coordinator

Melanie Parobek, Associate ConductorMelanie Joy Parobek, a contemporary violinist, composer, arranger, and teacher, found her passion for music at a very young age. She began her studies on the piano, but eventually found her calling on the violin. After many years of intensive classical training, Melanie Joy discovered her true passion for jazz and improvisation and moved to Nashville to pursue this passion. She has her undergraduate and masters from Belmont University in Commercial Violin Performance where she studied with Elisabeth Small, Tracy Silverman, Tammy Rogers, and Billy Contreras. For her master’s thesis, she researched the life and musical concepts of her teacher and mentor and Nashville Country legend, Buddy Spicher. She has performed at the Bridgestone Arena, the Grand Ole Opry, and the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. She recently performed with Rod Stewart for his Nashville appearance during his 2012 summer tour. Her Television appearances include: the 2010 Dove Awards with Natalie Grant, the 2010 CMA Country Christmas with Martina McBride, Darius Rucker, Kelly Pickler and LeAnn Rimes, the 2011 CMA Country Christmas with Vince Gill, Amy Grant, and Brad Paisley, and the 2011 CMA Awards with Rascal Flatts. She has and is currently performing locally with bands and artists such as Rodeo Pony, The Blair Band, Lindsay George, Sarah Williams, Lauren Homburg, Sharif Iman, and the Cumberland Tenderfoots. She has recorded at Historic RCA Studio B, Ocean Way Studios, The Castle in Franklin, and The Tracking Room. She recorded on the trailer for the film Billy: The Early Years, and on the soundtrack of the independent film Make Out with Violence. In 2011, she was the composer for a short film, The Piano Man during the Student Scoring Initiative which was led by the Nashville Composers Association. She arranged the string parts on the song “She Goes By Lonely” from Adam Illami’s newest record The Truth. Melanie Joy teaches in her private violin studio. She was director of the Academy Orchestra and is now the Chamber Ensemble Coordinator within Nashville’s Music City Youth Orchestra (MCYO). She has taught and worked at the Annie Moses Fine Arts Academy, Christian Howes’ Creative Strings Workshop, the Chamber Music Connection in Ohio, and the Belmont University Strings Crossings Camp. Melanie Joy enjoys the art of composition and songwriting, and would love to share her original music. It can be heard on her facebook page:  

Tracy Silverman, Artist-in-Residence

Tracy Silverman, Artist-in-ResidenceLauded by the BBC as “the greatest living exponent of the electric violin”, Tracy Silverman has redefined the instrument with his instantly recognizable trademark sound. His groundbreaking work with the six-string electric violin has forever transformed violin playing, much as Hendrix redefined the electric guitar. A Juilliard graduate, Tracy performed the premier of John Adams’ electric violin concerto ‘The Dharma at Big Sur’ at the gala opening of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Walt Disney Concert Hall. The piece was written for Silverman and he recorded it in 2004 for Nonesuch Records with John Adams conducting the BBC Symphony. Tracy has toured and recorded with composer Terry Riley, was first violinist with the Turtle Island String Quartet, and has recorded and produced many CDs for Windham Hill Records. He has performed and recorded with major symphonies and has produced and toured extensively with pianist Jim Brickman. Tracy’s ‘Electric Violin Concerto’ has been choreographed by Henrique Rodovolho and the Bale Teatro Guaira in Brazil. Tracy has taught at Macalester College in St. Paul, and at the MacPhail Center for the Arts in Minneapolis and regularly gives workshops all over the world, including the Stanford Jazz Workshop, Jazz in July at Amherst, Oberlin Conservatory and many others. He is a favorite instructor at Mark O’Connor’s annual fiddle camp, and currently holds a teaching position at Belmont University in Nashville, where he teaches exclusively jazz and rock violin. An international touring artist, Tracy has performed at major concert venues all over the world, and is currently touring internationally with his solo concerts, with his rock band Eclectica, as a member of the Terry Riley Trio, The Great Big Piano Trio with Philip Aaberg and Eugene Friesen, and with the Quarteto Sao Paulo in Brazil. For more information see 

LeAnn Austin, Executive Director

LeAnn Austin, Managing DirectorLeAnn Austin's career highlights include developing diversified fundraising programs to secure funding, executing special events to enhance and solidify donor relations, promoting advocacy and education for ongoing initiatives within the community and developing data tracking systems and promotional materials for sales, advertising and services. LeAnn’s degree in Marketing from Lipscomb University provided the understanding in business, and being naturally inclined to the non-profit industry, she began her work in hospice care. From hospice care she moved into grant writing, special events and funding development for Nashville’s Table, including donor relations and event fundraising for the Alzheimer’s Association, where she found she was able to truly blend her skills with the community’s needs. LeAnn’s musical tastes are diverse, which excited her about the repertoire for which Nashville’s only Eclectic Youth Orchestra is known. Her passion for music and the arts started from early childhood as she was surrounded by multiple generations of musicians, each with their own unique and broad choice of instruments and musical genres. With MCYO LeAnn is excited about the opportunity to tie her passion for music to her expertise in marketing, business and non-profit development. “Music and the arts move people toward positive living and creative learning, and MCYO’s unique approach to music education is unmatched by any other local youth orchestra.” LeAnn is thrilled to be a part of MCYO’s growth and to have the opportunity to enhance the lives of both students and the community through her efforts to keep MCYO a viable self-sustaining organization.  

Walter Bitner, Founder and Conductor Emeritus

Walter Bitner, Music DirectorVeteran music educator Walter Bitner brought a multi-faceted background as a teacher and performer to his role as founder of MCYO Concert Orchestra - Nashville's eclectic youth orchestra. A multi-instrumentalist and singer, he is also a master teacher, composer, and conductor conversant with a wide variety of musical styles and traditions. Walter is the Director of Choral Studies at Nashville School of the Arts, where he taught piano from 2008 – 2011 and where he also teaches classes in Music Understanding and AP Music Theory.