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Smoky Mountains

Smoky Mountain Flute Invitational

Guest Artist

Click on each artist's name to view more information.

Jim Walker, professor of practice, winds and percussion, graduated with honors from the University of Louisville and went on to play in the United States Military Academy Band at West Point. He subsequently studied with Harold Bennett and eventually won the associate principal flute position with the Pittsburgh Symphony in 1969. Eight years later he became principal flutist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and began working simultaneously in the recording studios for jazz/pop sessions, television and motion pictures and can be heard on over 600 sound tracks. In 2002 he performed with Paul McCartney at the Academy Awards. In 1980, Mr. Walker formed Free Flight, a jazz/classical quartet, resulting in four Tonight Show appearances, 16 recordings and annual tours.

He is a member of the SmartMusic Board of Advisors, a Burkart Performing Artist and a master teacher for the New World Symphony. His flute ensembles and quartets are published and sold through Flute World and he is the writer/creator of the Young Artist Series for Flute (Alfred Music Publishing). Mr. Walker founded the annual Beyond the Masterclass in 2007 and his students hold numerous positions in orchestras around the world. In addition to being coordinator of flute at the Thornton School, Mr. Walker travels extensively giving clinics and master classes around the world.

Jim Walker is a Performing Artist for Burkart & Resona Flutes and Piccolos.

Complete info: Jim Walker

Johanna Gruskin joined the Knoxville Symphony as principal flute in September 2016. Previously she was principal flutist of the Young Musician’s Foundation Debut Orchestra in Los Angeles, and she attended the Colburn Conservatory of Music as a student of Jim Walker. Johanna has performed with the Louisiana Philharmonic, the San Antonio Symphony, the Boston Philharmonic, and the New World Symphony. She was an orchestral fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center for two summers and the piccolo fellow at the Aspen Music Festival and School for one summer. Johanna was a bronze medalist at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition as a member of the Midic Winds quintet, and the group also performed as soloists with the Eastman Wind Ensemble. She has won the Music Teachers National Association Senior Woodwind Competition and was twice a finalist for the James Pappoutsakis Memorial Flute Competition. She holds a Master of Music degree from the New England Conservatory and a Bachelor of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music studying with Elizabeth Rowe and Bonita Boyd, respectively. Johanna is originally from Duluth, Minnesota.

Shelley Binder joined the faculty of the University of Tennessee in 1994 and is currently Professor of Flute. Known for her “rich, colorful voice” and teaching excellence, Shelley is highly sought-after as a guest performer and clinician. She has appeared in recital, performed as an orchestral soloist, and presented classes throughout the United States. Shelley’s recently-developed workshop on “Romancing the Tone” has drawn much attention and praise at numerous flute festivals.

Dr. Binder attended North Carolina School of the Arts, the Cincinnati Conservatory, Virginia Commonwealth and Florida State University, where she earned her Doctor of Music degree. A student of Louis Moyse, She is working to complete his biography.

Dr. Binder is a Miyazawa Performing Artist.

Kathryne Salo, Miyazawa Emerging Artist, is currently a doctoral candidate in flute performance at Michigan State University. A Louisiana native, she has performed in venues from New Orleans Arena to Royal Festival Hall to St. John’s, Smith Square, with musicians including Ellis Marsalis, Frederick Fennell, and Sir Colin Davis. Kathryne currently freelances with the Lansing Symphony and the Jackson Symphony in Michigan, and she has also performed with the Knoxville Symphony, Oak Ridge Symphony, and London Arts Orchestra. As a soloist, she has performed with the MSU Symphony, UTK Symphony, and Monroe Symphony Orchestra. Orchestral festival experience includes the Texas Music Festival, Pierre Monteux Music Festival, and Aurora Chamber Music Festival. Kathryne has also won prizes in the Ervin Monroe Young Artist Competition, Cynthia Mitchell Woods Young Artist Competition, and MTNA Young Artist Woodwind Competition. Kathryne holds the LRAM teaching diploma and worked as a graduate teaching assistant for four years. She earned degrees from Louisiana State University, the Royal Academy of Music, and the University of Tennessee. Major teachers include Patti Adams, Katherine Kemler, Clare Southworth, Michael Cox, Patricia Morris, Shelley Binder, and Richard Sherman. Visit for more information!

Kathryne Salo is a Miyazawa Emerging Artist.

Dr. Jeremy Benson, American flutist and pedagogue, joined the faculty at the David L. Walters Department of Music in the fall of 2011 as Assistant Professor of Music where he teaches Flute Applied, Music History & Literature, and serves as Conductor of the JSU Opera Theatre. Dr. Benson completed his undergraduate degrees at Jacksonville State University, the Master of Music degree in Flute Performance from the Florida State University, and the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Flute Performance from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. His primary teachers and mentors include: Victoria DeLano, Dr. William Jerryl Davis, Eva Amsler, and Bart Feller.

As an active soloist, chamber musician, and adjudicator, Dr. Benson was named a First Prize Winner at the 2011 Alexander & Buono International Flute Competition, and he performed a New York City debut solo recital at Weill Recital Hall / Carnegie Hall in October 2011. He was also the First Prize Winner at the Kentucky Flute Society's Concerto Competition in 2010. He has served on adjudication panels for several national flute competitions and master classes, in addition to being a lecturer and performer at international, national, and regional flute conventions. Dr. Benson regularly serves as a jury member for solo competitions worldwide and is Principal Flutist with the Gadsden Symphony.

Dr. Benson is the leading researcher and expert about flute compositions by the 20th/21st century Japanese-French composer Yuko Uѐbayashi, and his doctoral research serves as the only primary source about Uѐbayashi and her original flute compositions. Dr. Benson was recently invited to join the Southern Opera Theatre Company where he will serve as a Conductor for the 2017-2020 seasons.

Dr. Benson is a Muramatsu Performing Artist

Born in Belgium, Kevin Class studied at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels, as well as in the US and Canada. Teachers have included Romeo Fracalanza, Ralph Votapek, Gyorgy Sebok and Daniel Blumenthal. In 1997, the Belgian government named Kevin a Fellow of the Flemish Community. He has recorded more than 15 CDs, including piano concerti by Brahms, Beethoven, Mozart and Schumann with the Stuttgart Symphony Orchestra, several albums as a collaborative pianist with saxophonists Timothy McAllister and James Romain, cellist Wesley Baldwin, violinists Francisco Caban and Juhi Kee, soprano Soo Yeon Kim and others. He has also recorded several albums of solo piano works by Chopin, Schumann, Liszt and Elliott Carter. His performances have included cycles of the complete piano sonatas of Mozart (1991-92) and Schubert (1997) in Brussels, Amsterdam and other cities. His sold out performances in China have been broadcast nationally by China’s state television agency CCTV. He has given solo recitals in numerous important venues worldwide, including Leeds’ Town Hall, Geneva’s Ansermet Hall, Munich’s Grosse Saal of the Hochschule fur Musik, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Vienna’s Musikverein and six performances in New York’s Carnegie Hall.

As conductor, Kevin has held residencies at the National Opera La Monnaie in Brussels, the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden and National Opera Studio in London, Opera Illinois (Peoria) and with the Illinois New Music Ensemble. From 2001-2005 he served as Guest Music Director and Resident Conductor of the University of Illinois Opera Theatre in Champaign-Urbana while also pursuing Doctoral studies under the tutelage of John Wustman.

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