Meet the musicians performing on our 2020-2021 Season!
Astraios musicians have performed around the world and are ready to bring you great classical music.
Christopher Curtis is an actor, singer, and director currently based in Dallas, TX, and serves as the President of Astraios's Board of Directors. The son of Torrey Curtis and Joyce Adams Curtis, both of whom obtained Masters of Sacred Music degrees from SMU, Christopher grew up singing in choirs under the direction of his parents. After graduating from Oklahoma City University where he studied voice with George Massey, Christopher has gone on to work at more than a dozen theatres in the region including Shakespeare Dallas, Theatre Three, Circle Theatre, City Rep, Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park, Reduxion Theatre, Oklahoma City Theatre Company, Pegasus Theatre, and Lyric Stage. A few of his favorite roles include Ed Devery in Born Yesterday, John Dickinson in 1776, and the title role in Hamlet. He is also a veteran improviser, and has performed improv on stages throughout the region for over a dozen years and recently took his two-man improv show C-4 to perform in New York City.
Eric Jones got his start in music at an early age, studying voice with his father, Robert Jones, and singing in many children’s roles, including Amahl and the Night Visitors. He began studying the violin and viola at age 10, and received a Bachelors and Masters of Music in Viola Performance and a Masters in Musicology from the University of North Texas, and is a PhD candidate in Musicology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Eric studied Bolivian folk music as a Fulbright Scholar in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and is a specialist in the folk music traditions of Latin America and the Andes. He teaches world music at the University of Texas at Dallas and Southern Methodist University. He is also a regular performer of both solo works and chamber music, and has performed with orchestras in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area.
Patrick Herring began playing music at a very early age and hated it with a passion until they let him start hitting things. Since then he has received a Bachelor in Music Education from the University of North Texas and Masters in Percussion Performance from Southern Methodist University. Music has taken him all around the United States and he has proudly played shows in 40 out of 50 states. He’s looking forward to getting up to New England someday and knocking out a few more of them.
Patrick is the Operations Manager for the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra. He currently serves as the principal percussionist of the Allen Philharmonic Symphony and plays extra with many local and regional orchestras as well as theater companies and churches and anyone else that needs something hit musically.
Patrick lives in Little Elm with his wife, son, daughter, and two beagles and in his spare time creates instructional videos on how to play percussion on his website.
Bassoon | Programming Director
Michael Jones, bassoonist, serves as Astraios's Programming Director, coordinating ensembles, arranging music for our versatile ensembles, and managing our elementary school programs.
Michael received his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from Indiana University, where he held an Associate Instructorship. Michael subsequently received a Fulbright Grant to study bassoon performance and pedagogy at the Sydney Conservatorium, where he received a Graduate Diploma in 2006. During this time, he also toured with the Australian Chamber Orchestra. In 2016, he was the Acting Principal Bassoonist of the Texarkana Symphony, and has performed regularly with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra since 2013. His teachers have included Carl Rath, Andrew Barnes, Arthur Weisberg, and Kim Walker.
Daniel Kelly, a native of Charleston, SC, joined Texas A&M University-Commerce in the fall of 2010 after serving on the faculty of Indiana State University and the University of Southern Mississippi.
Dr. Kelly holds a BS in trumpet performance from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee, and a MM and DMA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His principal teachers include Michael Ewald, Ronnie Romm, Ray Sasaki, and Richard Steffen. He has been designated a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music (NCTM) by the Music Teachers National Association and is a member of the Music Teachers National Association, the College Music Society, the International Trumpet Guild, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, and the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. Dr. Kelly is a Yamaha Performing Artist/Clinician.
Ruth Ann Ritchie
Founder & Director | Flute
Flutist Ruth Ann Ritchie is the founder and Executive Director of Astraios. Since 2007 she has established concert series in Texas and Colorado and led Astraios ensembles in performances across the U.S. She is the founding flutist of both The August Winds quintet and the Cirrus Quartet.
Ruth Ann studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Cleveland Music School Settlement before receiving a Bachelor of Music with Distinction in Flute Performance from Indiana University. She continued her studies at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, receiving a Graduate Diploma in 2006. Her primary teachers have been Tom Robertello, Alexa Still, Linda White, and Joseph Juhos.
Ruth Ann also serves as Executive Director of the Dallas-based Orpheus Chamber Singers. As an administrator, she has worked with Floot Fire Dallas and Hall Ensemble, and served on the Board of the Lewisville Lake Symphony from 2012-2015.
For over three decades, pianist Luis Sanchez has maintained an active career as soloist, collaborative artist, and teacher. He has appeared in concerts in the United States, South America, Europe, and Asia. He is currently Professor of Piano and Director of Keyboard Studies at Texas A&M University-Commerce. Dr. Sanchez joined the Steinway Artist Roster in 2012.
Equally at home with the fortepiano and the modern piano, Dr. Sanchez pursued further studies in fortepiano and XVIII century performance practice with Malcolm Bilson, Andrew Willis, and Liv Glaser (Oslo, Norway). In 2012, he was commissioned to write an article on Phil Belt (American builder of fortepianos) for the New Grove Dictionary of American Music and Early Music America.
Born in Argentina, Dr. Sanchez holds degrees from the National Conservatory of Music “Carlos López Buchardo” and Ball State University. His teachers include Ana Litovsky-Grunwald, Graciela Beretervide, Robert Palmer, and Rebecca Penneys.
Libby Vanatta, a native of Middle Tennessee, joined the music faculty at Texas A&M University-Commerce in 2010 as Instructor of Piano. She currently teaches class piano, piano pedagogy, piano literature, and private piano lessons. An active accompanist, Libby has also performed throughout the country at conferences, competitions, and in guest artist recitals. Passionate about chamber music, Libby formed Doppio Movimento in 2011 with her Texas A&M University-Commerce colleague, Dr. Luis Sanchez.
Libby Vanatta holds a Bachelor of Science in piano performance from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee, and a Master of Music in piano pedagogy from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.