Board of Directors


Irene Cohen

[email protected]

I am lucky to have grown up in a family that placed a lot of importance on the presence of music in our lives. I grew up in the Netherlands and music education was a natural part of our growing up years. I started to play flute in my late teens but never played in a band or orchestra. I played solo or in small ensembles throughout the years while living in Israel and Canada. When empty nesting became a reality I read about the New Horizons Band at our local university in London, ON and decided to join. That was one of the luckiest days of my life.
My music education had not been in English but none of that mattered because the international language of music surpasses all boundaries.

Since joining NHB in 2004 I have added piccolo and tenor sax to my repertoire which has added additional joy in music-making.
Once a month on a Sunday morning we get together with several New Horizons friends at someone’s home and practice simple klezmer tunes, have some snacks and coffee and perform at the local synagogue or events. There is nothing like playing music with some friends while enjoying some goodies and good fun.

The NHB in London has offered bi-annual trips to Europe and I have traveled 7 times to many countries in Europe to perform and enjoy the wonderful places we have visited.
So many of us have formed close friendships and we often wonder what life would have been without NHB (unimaginable!).

I am the proud mother of two children who have developed their great lives in Toronto, Canada. I am a Family Physician and am slowly moving towards full retirement.
Both as a professional and as a member of NHB/NHIMA I have witnessed the enormously positive impact of ongoing adult education particularly in music. Roy Ernst’s vision to develop this program has been invaluable and I am proud and thankful to know Roy, be a member of this amazing organization, and to be invited to serve on the Board of Directors of NHIMA.

Vice President

Dan Kapp

My Business

[email protected]

Dan Kapp – Vice President, Tech Committee, Shared Music Library, Camp Committee, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Dan Kapp is a Bachelor of Fine Arts Performance graduate of York University in Toronto, Ontario. He also holds a Bachelor of Education from Queen’s University and has studied at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. He brings 30+ years of professional teaching, conducting, and leadership experience to NHIMA.

During his teaching career, Dan would be found in the music classroom working with students from grade 7 to 13. He also served as Head of Music in many high schools, was an Arts Resource Teacher (consultant) with the Kawartha-Pine Ridge DSB in Ontario, and set up an instrumental music program at The Koç School in Istanbul, Turkey. Dan is also an accomplished Musical Director and has been involved in countless musical performances in both school and community settings. He has been a guest conductor at band festivals in Canada, Turkey, the USA, and Latin America. Dan has also conducted at a number of New Horizons Band Camps including Chautauqua, Maine, Montreal, and Grand Rapids.

In “retirement”, Dan passionately over-saw the implementation and development of the New Horizons Band of Toronto program for its first 8 years as it grew from one band of 17 members to 10 band classes with 250+ members, and, at some point, directed classes at every level. He now serves as Director Emeritus to NHBT.

Dan has also re-discovered his love of seriously practicing trumpet (his first instrument). He continues to play in community bands, orchestras, pit bands, and jazz ensembles while studying composition at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

He is thrilled to be a part of the NHIMA Board and the responsibilities it brings. He is a passionate advocate of the New Horizons “movement” and is looking forward to playing his part in facilitating the advancement of this incredible organization.

Secretary, Communications Committee

Michael Plaut

[email protected]


Mike earned his doctorate in psychology at the University of Rochester in 1969 and spent most of his career on the faculty of the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, retiring in 2008.

Mike played both clarinet and oboe from fifth grade through high school.  Although he has had a lifelong appreciation of music, he did not play an instrument (other than recorder) for 48 years until he resumed studies of the clarinet in 2007, shortly before his retirement.  He has continued private lessons since that time.  After moving to North Carolina in 2008, he joined the OLLI New Horizons Band at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, serving as chair of its steering committee for three years.  He also played in a chamber group at UNCW. 

In 2013, Mike and his wife Judy moved to Oak Hammock at the University of Florida, a retirement community affiliated with the university.  He has played in the Gainesville Community Band since that time and served as its president for two years.   He also founded the Oak Hammock Chamber Players, which is affiliated with the New Horizons International Music Association, a support network for adult musicians operating in eight countries.  Mike plays clarinet in the chamber group, and conducts when its regular conductor, Professor Gary Langford, is not available. 

Mike serves on the board of the Foundation for Promotion of Music, which is affiliated with the National Foundation of Music Clubs, where he helps coordinate instrumental competitions for high school students.  He is a member of the Association of Concert Bands and Associated Chamber Music Players.  He is a member of the board of the New Horizons International Music Association, which he serves as secretary and chair of the Communications Committee.  He also serves on the board of Friends of Music at the University of Florida.

In December 2017, Mike published an article in The Clarinet, the journal of the International Clarinet Association, called “Returning to the Clarinet in Later Life.”  His article was reprinted in the June 2018 issue of the Association of Concert Bands Journal.


Director, Development/Business Memberships

Russ Grazier Portsmouth NHB

[email protected]

Composer and saxophonist Russ Grazier, Jr. is a native of Portsmouth, NH, and has taught saxophone, composition, and music theory for over 25 years. In 2002 he co-founded PMAC (Portsmouth Music and Arts Center) with his wife Katie and mentor Wendell Purrington. In the years leading up to the creation of PMAC, he taught at some of the most prestigious music schools in the country including Boston Conservatory, Roosevelt University (Chicago), the University of Chicago College, the New England Conservatory Preparatory School, and the Merit School of Music (Chicago). Russ has been composer-in-residence with Chicago’s CUBE Ensemble, and his music has been performed by the Contemporary Chamber Players of Chicago, the West End String Quartet, CUBE, Voices from the Heart, Duo Fujin, and many other ensembles and soloists. Russ was named 2016 Arts Advocate of the Year by New Hampshire Citizens for the Arts and is a past president of Art-Speak, the cultural commission for the city of Portsmouth, where he lives with his wife, Katie, and their two sons, Max and Jake.

Director, Camps Committee

Michael Foster

[email protected]

Music has been part of my life since the beginning.  My mother told me that I used to sing along to Eddy Arnold’s “Cattle Call” from the crib.  My first musical memories are calling square dances in Ruidoso, NM, at about age 5.  Also around this time, I took piano lessons which I did not like one little bit.

Later, at age 7, the guitar was recommended as physical therapy for an injury to my left arm.  I liked that more than piano, as I liked the trumpet when I took it up at age 9.  I played trumpet right up through high school, college, and after, playing in bands, pit bands, orchestras, informal caroling sessions, and anywhere it fit in.  Then I got to graduate school and ran out of time.  The trumpet went into the closet in 1980 (though I did play the recorder in graduate school as part of an early music ensemble from our department).

After graduate school I had a very fulfilling career in computing, winding up as a high-level bureaucrat.  Also during this time, I became a professional singer in the Washington DC area, which was great for work/life balance.  I sang under the inspired direction of Leonard Slatkin, Mstislav Rostropovich, Christopher Hogwood, John Adams, and others, and won a Grammy under the direction of Bob Schafer. But all was not light and blessings.  From 1980 onward I had a recurring nightmare in which I had to play third trumpet in some little orchestra, and couldn’t remember how to do it.  In 2005, on the verge of retirement, I realized that I could banish that nightmare by taking up the trumpet again.

So I did.  From the first, I had all of the tone, range, and technique that I had ever had 35 years before.  For about 2 seconds.

The ensuing years have been a journey to increase that time and to increase my involvement in music.  My activities include trumpet and trombone in a local symphony orchestra, trumpet in a local community band, trumpet and guitar in a group that visits senior centers weekly, and freelancing where I can.  I play the bugle for many events honoring our veterans.  I also keep up my singing career as a cathedral cantor in the Arlington Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church, as an occasional singer for the Bethesda Jewish Congregation, and with occasional freelancing.

New Horizons has been an important part of my journey.  The first time I played trumpet in public since 1980 was at a New Horizons camp; the camaraderie and musical variety are inspiring.  Serving on the board is the least I can do to advance this organization.

Director, Planning Membership

Katherine Levy

[email protected]

I am a career music teacher, born in Lakeland, Florida. I grew up in a Kentucky household with parents who were both teachers and singers.  Currently I am a professor of music education at the State University of New York at Fredonia and the music director of the New Horizons Band of Western New York.  I earned Ph.D. and Master’s degrees in music education from the University of Iowa, and my undergraduate music education degree is from Northwestern University, where I studied horn. After my first year teaching band in Illinois schools, I married a fellow NU alumnus and tuba player, and several years later, we had a son, Aaron.  We moved next to Wisconsin where I taught middle and high school band.  Although the marriage ended in 2013, our son grew up to be a wonderful person who is a fine trombonist and a successful neuroscientist.

I came to New Horizons as a graduate student in Iowa City (IA). With the mentorship of Don Coffman and the Iowa City New Horizons Band's first band members, I served as the band's horn and brass ensemble instructor.  After I finished my graduate course work in Iowa, I moved with my family to Hagerstown, MD, where I founded and conducted the Hagerstown (MD) New Horizons Band.  I also taught early childhood music classes there, and I coordinated a community music program associated with the local community college.  In 2002, I landed my current teaching position in Fredonia, New York.  With the drive and support of Chautauqua NHB campers, Janet Stout and Eric Kroon, we started the NHB of Western New York (NHBWNY) in affiliation with Fredonia State University in 2004. Thanks to our partnership with Fredonia and its many wonderful music students, the NHBWNY continues to grow in both membership and diversity of music learning opportunities.

I am honored and delighted (!!) to have conducted bands and coached ensembles at New Horizons camps in Chautauqua (NY), Brock University (St. Catharines, ON), and Unicoi (GA).  My music teaching experience spans all ages (early childhood – New Horizons) in school and community settings in five U.S. states.  I am co-author of a textbook, Introduction and Practical Guide to Music Education, with Fredonia colleague and dear friend, Laura Dornberger.  I love kayaking, walking, and birdwatching, and I am passionate about inspiring people to teach well and to make music, Music, MUSIC!

Director, Individual/Couple Membership

Edie Shillitoe

[email protected]

Community music-making is a great passion of mine!    Having taught orchestra for more than 30 years in San Francisco, Houston, and Upstate New York, I have devoted all of my adult life to teaching stringed instruments.    Starting my career teaching a 40 piece kindergarten violin ensemble, I then moved thru the elementary years, middle school orchestra,  high school symphony orchestra, and dabbled at the college level teaching String Methods to music education students at Syracuse University.    Upon retirement, my focus has become lifelong music learning in the adult population, a pursuit that is perfectly championed in the New Horizons International Music Association.

Presently, I direct the Salt City New Horizons Orchestra in the Syracuse area, where there are 60+ eager adults of all ages making music every Thursday.  We have 80-year-old violinists sitting side by side with young parents escaping hectic child-rearing for the evening.    Many are community musicians who have returned to playing the instrument they loved as children, and several have taken up a violin or cello as a senior citizen, checking an item off their bucket list.   All celebrate true friendships each week as we tackle new music and enjoy old favorites.

I currently live in Fayetteville, New York, where I reside with my husband, Ed (who is a fine violinist and microbiologist….and now a bassist with the Salt City NHO).  We have three daughters, 5 grandsons and a granddaughter!    I am very active in the American String Teachers Association, where I am a former president of the New York chapter.   I am happy to be part of the New Horizons board and look forward to supporting this organization which completely mirrors my own teaching philosophy.


Director, Group Memberships

Edlamae (Eddi) Thompson Baird

[email protected]

I come to New Horizons Band much in the same way as many other musicians. I had just retired from my second working career as a legislative assistant for the Senate Democratic Caucus. The first and longest career was as a foreign language educator. I was liberated from “work” and our 3 children were emancipated. There was a lull from soccer games in the rain and mud, no more bleacher time cheering the teams, no more Suzuki violin lessons, music camps, and orchestra performances.

I was introduced to the New Horizons Band by a family member who was already involved. I was encouraged to explore, to venture forth, to give it a try. So I just showed up with my flute, was given a folder of music, and warmly welcomed. The experience of acceptance and community was so powerful that I joined TWO New Horizons Bands with the same conductor. Those bands in Olympia and Tacoma have now merged to become South Puget Sound New Horizons Band.
I was grateful once again for our excellent and well funded public school music programs. They created for me instruction to learn an instrument and to participate in groups. I was a 10-year-old 5th grader in a small farming community. The school board had just purchased a new flute that year and I was “loaned” that instrument. It was a powerful and transformative force in my life. I had found something magical in my world and was swept away. When we moved from that small town four years later, my school teacher mother knew of the magic and spent 2 monthly paychecks to purchase for me a Haynes flute. I named her “TOOTLES” and she is still my favorite flute to play. I still say “Thanks, Mom” when I open the case. I added a piccolo to my practice and played in groups and bands through college. Then academics, graduate studies, employment, and family became the "normal", and the flute got tucked away and played only for pleasure.

With these New Horizons Band connections, I have found great joy in this vibrant gathering of people who love to have fun making music together. It is a daily pleasure to be back full speed in the music world. I quickly joined more groups – a flute choir, a community band, and the Department of Washington American Legion Band. In a calendar year, I may have as many as 25 performances and march in 5 parades. I volunteer in all of these groups, serve on local boards, help plan and attend camps and clinics. The South Puget Sound band will be hosting its 5th band camp in July 2020. We are all about community, connections, and definitely FUN. This sense of fun I share with my husband, Dale. He is not a musician but qualifies as a “super critic” at many concerts and the band camps we have attended. He goes off hiking on the newfound trails and returns happy as the best ever audience. We share a booth at the Olympia Farmers’ Market as craft vendors. We also volunteer for workweeks several times a year at Holden Village, an old mining town now a Lutheran Church retreat center near Lake Chelan in the Cascade Mountains.
In my appointment to board, I am deeply committed to creating community and connections in a caring environment. I find this in the philosophy of the New Horizons Band. I thank Dr. Roy Ernst for his confidence in me that I will make a positive contribution to this organization.

Director, Camp Committee, Membership Committee

Carol Neubert

[email protected]

My early music experiences centered around the piano. After ten years of private lessons, I had learned two things: how to read music fairly well and that my right hand and left hand did not want to play together. I sang in choruses and choirs for years, but there was no more instrument playing. After a career in public school education, as a teacher and then as an administrator, I retired and my husband and I set off to explore National Parks/Monuments/Historical sites. After three years of experiencing those wonders, we sold our camper-van and wondered what we would do next. That’s when we saw a little article in the local paper announcing the formation of a New Horizons Band in Potsdam, New York. The initial meeting hooked us. My husband, who had always wanted to play the trumpet started with our daughter’s instrument, but I chose the clarinet and had to go to the music store to rent one. When I got home I opened the case with great excitement, only to discover that it came in five pieces and I didn’t know how to put it together. For the next six years we played in the New Horizons Band of Northern New York and I learned not only how to put my rental together, but I moved on to buy my own instrument and learned to play recognizable pieces. I served as president of the band’s board for several years and my growing interest in music also led me to serve on the Board of the Orchestra of Northern New York based at the Crane School of Music.

Five years ago we moved to Western Massachusetts where there was no New Horizons Band. We joined the local community band, which was a super challenge for us, and although rewarding in its own way, there was not the encouragement, support, and camaraderie we had loved in our NH Band. So, three years ago we went to the local music center and introduced New Horizons to the director. He loved it and together we made it happen. The Pioneer Valley New Horizons Band has 25 members at present and it is everything we hoped it would be.

New Horizons Bands and camps turned our retirement plans in a direction we never would have predicted and our lives are richer for it. That’s why, when I was asked to serve on the NHIMA Board, I said yes. I am excited about having the opportunity to work with the rest of the Board to strengthen and expand NHIMA. There should be no retiree sitting on a front porch rocking away the time. We should all be practicing. I firmly believe it enriches our personal lives, our relationships, and our world.

Founder of the New Horizons Program, Advisor, Nominating Committee

Roy Ernst

[email protected]

Roy Ernst is a professor emeritus of the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester, where he taught for 25 years and chaired the music education department for 12 years. In 1991, Dr. Ernst started the first New Horizons Band at Eastman for the purpose of creating a model program emphasizing entry and re-entry points to music-making for senior adults. Later, he became the founding director of the New Horizons Music Project, funded by the National Association of Music Merchants and the National Association of Band Instrument Manufacturers. In that capacity, he used the New Horizons Band as a model to assist in starting more than 100 similar programs in the United States and Canada.

Publications by Dr. Ernst include books and articles on conducting, flute performance, and music education. He is the founding director of The Aesthetic Education Institute in Rochester, New York. He conducts frequently at New Horizons Institutes-national and international events for New Horizons band and orchestra members.

Before moving to Eastman in 1975, he taught flute, conducted the wind ensemble, and was a member of the music education faculty at Georgia State University. In 1984, he was a visiting professor at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in Sydney, Australia.

Recognitions and honors to Dr. Ernst include the President’s Arts Achievement Award from his alma mater, Wayne State University; an Outstanding Educator Award from the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra; The Richard Snook Award from the Monroe County Music Educators; an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from the University of Western Ontario, Canada, in recognition of his work in adult education; and recognition as one of the Grand Masters of Music Education by the Music Educators National Conference, the 85,000 member professional association for music educators.

Dr. Ernst began his career in Michigan, where he taught instrumental music in elementary and secondary schools. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from Wayne State University and a Ph.D. from The University of Michigan. Dr. Ernst lives in Tarpon Springs, Florida with his wife Pat, who is a food journalist. They travel frequently to visit family and attend New Horizons events.