Nathaniel Berman maintains an active presence as a performer and music educator in the San Francisco Bay Area. A faculty member at UC Santa Cruz since 2007, he is conductor of the UCSC Concert Choir and the UCSC Wind Ensemble and has appeared as guest conductor of the UCSC Orchestra and the University Opera Theater. Nathaniel has held the position of Music Director of the Santa Cruz County Youth Symphony since 2011 and has appeared as guest conductor of the Santa Cruz County Symphony in annual collaborative concerts with the Youth Symphony.
A strong advocate for new music, Nathaniel is Co-Artistic Director of the San Francisco-based new music ensemble Ninth Planet (formerly Wild Rumpus), with whom he has led premieres of commissioned works by Ruben Naeff, Carolyn Chen, Dan Van Hassel, and many others. In 2014 he worked with members of Bang on a Can All-Stars and Alarm Will Sound on recording composer Jenny Olivia Johnson’s album Don’t Look Back. He conducted a program of premieres with Empyrean at UC Davis in June of 2019, as well as the world premiere of The Pressure, by Brian Baumbusch, at San Francisco’s Other Minds Festival at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater.
Nathaniel has been a member of the professional new-music chorus Volti, where he also served as Assistant Conductor, and has sung with early music ensembles Pacific Collegium and Euouae. Originally a trumpet player, he now keeps up his brass chops playing euphonium in the Balkan brass band Inspector Gadje.
Nathaniel received his Master’s degree in conducting from UC Santa Cruz, where he studied with Nicole Paiement. 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.
Vice President & Treasurer
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.
A native Angeleno, Ken holds a baccalaureate degree in Radio, Television, & Film from Cal State Long Beach, and a master’s degree in Library & Information Science from San Jose State. Before his nearly 20-year, current tenure as a UCSC reference librarian, he was a postman in Santa Monica, transferring to Santa Cruz in 1981 where he’s lived ever since. A lifelong record collector—starting at nine years old—and devotee of the music of many genres, Ken also served a number of years as Secretary of the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival. In his too-spare leisure time, he can be found cooking; watching English Premier League football; exploring the highways, byways, and restaurants of the California Republic; and on a never-ending quest to perfect his audio system on which to enjoy that record collection.
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.