Nathaniel Berman maintains an active presence as a performer and music educator in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a member of the UC Santa Cruz Music Department faculty, where he conducts the Concert Choir, the Wind Ensemble, and has appeared as guest conductor of the University Orchestra and Opera Theater. An active educator, Mr. Berman is also the Music Director of the Santa Cruz County Youth Symphony. He has been assistant conductor of the Peninsula Symphony and served as assistant conductor of the Oakland Civic Orchestra from 2011 to 2012. In July of 2012, Mr. Berman appeared with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra as one of the participants of the Eastman Summer Conducting Institute selected to perform in concert with the RPO.
Equally dedicated to new music and interdisciplinary collaboration, Mr. Berman has been a member and assistant conductor of the professional new-music chorus Volti, and he is the conductor for the San Francisco-based new-music collective Wild Rumpus. He has appeared as a conductor and trumpet player for puppet theater at the San Francisco Performance Art Institute, and in April of 2013, he premiered music by Korean American composer and UCSC faculty member Hi Kyung Kim at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco and at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. Mr. Berman received his Master’s degree in conducting from the University of California at Santa Cruz, where he studied with Nicole Paiement. His first instrument was trumpet, and he grew up playing duets with his dad, a jazz pianist and singer.
In the summer of 2017 Gerry Mandel left her longtime position as Editor and Co-Publisher of Stone Soup, the national magazine of writing and art by kids, and began working as Operations Manager for the Santa Cruz County Youth Symphony. She was part of the group of UC Santa Cruz students who founded and began publishing Stone Soup out of their dorm rooms in 1973. Originally from Los Angeles, Gerry came to Santa Cruz to attend UCSC, where she earned a BA in French Literature. Her interests outside of work revolve around music, art, and travel. She grew up studying piano and played modern flute in college. Now she studies recorder with Carol Panofsky and recently took up the Baroque flute. A highlight of her year is attending Pinewoods Early Music Week in Massachusetts every summer. Gerry enjoys meeting our Youth Symphony families and making sure everyone has a fun and rewarding experience.
Board of Directors
Ruth Updegraff has served on the Santa Cruz County Youth Symphony board since 2008, and as President since 2013. Both of her sons were members of SCCYS and are now in college. Ruth works for SunOpta Inc. as Controller in their Scotts Valley office. She has worked in various financial and project management positions since arriving in Santa Cruz in 1982. She holds a BA in Economics & International Relations from Beloit College and an MBA from Santa Clara University. In her spare time, Ruth is interested in classical guitar, and she sings with both the Cabrillo Symphonic Chorus and the UCSC Concert Choir.
Carol Panofsky is an active freelance musician who performs and teaches early music, modern oboe, and piano. She has performed with the Albany Consort, Santa Cruz Chamber Players, Santa Cruz Symphony, and Carmel Bach Festival. Carol received a Masters of Music in the Performance of Early Music from the New England Conservatory of Music. She is Music Director for Ragazzi Boys Chorus in Redwood City. Carol is a co-founder of the Santa Cruz Chamber Players, and she founded and runs Munching with Mozart, a series of free monthly concerts showcasing local musicians at the Santa Cruz Public Library.
Joe Brookshier moved from Montana to California to be at the center of the universe (for a software engineer, that is). He moved to Santa Cruz with his wife Tracey for the quality of life and to raise a family. Joe’s two kids were youth symphony members (Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Jose at various times) but have since flown the nest. His main hobbies are reading, travel, and spin class.
Tammy Feinberg (Masters of Music, Piano Performance) has enjoyed working as a soloist and collaboratively as an instrumental and choral chamber music player, as a church service organist, as a modern dance and ballet company pianist, providing both original music and standard repertoire, and in musical theater as an accompanist and director. Tammy currently teaches piano and vocal music at Independence High School in San Jose. She gravitated towards classroom teaching because of the empowering and transformative energy of music for adolescents on a soul level, transcending speech, social boundaries, and emotional barriers. It is her vision to increase participation and opportunities in performing arts for children and teens in Santa Cruz County. Tammy lives on the west side of Santa Cruz with her family, including her son Yosef, who plays cello in the Youth Symphony. She and her family enjoy outdoor activities, baking wood-fired pizzas, and (of course) playing music together.
Laura McShane is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but has lived in Santa Cruz for longer than she cares to admit. She holds Master’s degrees in Marine Science and Percussion Performance from UC Santa Cruz, where she studied percussion with William Winant. Laura performs regularly with Ensemble Monterey Chamber Orchestra and Cabrillo Stage and has performed with the Peninsula Symphony, Monterey Bay Pops, New Music Works Santa Cruz, Cadenza Chamber Ensemble, All About Theater, and South Valley Symphony. Laura also studies and performs Middle Eastern music and dance. By day, she works as an academic adviser for the Literature Department at UC Santa Cruz.
Helene Milner is a retired United Methodist pastor, the daughter of a choir director, and the mother of a former Santa Cruz County Youth Symphony cellist. She has sung all her life in various church, school, and community choirs and played French Horn through high school. She values the sense of cooperation and mastery that playing in a group can bring about. When not at choir rehearsal, she enjoys cooking and working out.
Laura Z. Heinz
Laura Heinz has lived in Santa Cruz County for decades and is a graduate of both Cabrillo College and UC Santa Cruz. She has held jobs as restaurateur, photographer, videographer, and business administrator. She also volunteered for New Music Works, doing bookkeeping, event planning, and concessions, while raising her two beautiful children. Musically, she played clarinet in the Santa Cruz High Marching Band and played guitar for fun. Her family is currently active performing music locally with the Rayburn Brothers Band, and her son David Heinz plays with the Youth Symphony. Laura joined the board in 2018.