The woodwind faculty within the Community Music School at UNCSA have performed across North Carolina and the United States. As experienced professional musicians, they help students in private and group lessons reach their personal and musical goals.
Mark Biggam wears a variety of musical hats as a performer, composer and teacher. In his earlier years, he studied oboe in high school at UNCSA with Joseph Robinson and continued his training in Ohio, ultimately earning a doctorate in 2001 at Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. In Cincinnati, he appeared as soloist with the Orchestra of the 18th Century and also gave several solo recitals. Presently, he is a freelance musician in North Carolina, performing with the Winston-Salem Symphony and other orchestras and chamber groups.
As composer, Mark’s compositions have been recognized in various venues in the United States and Europe. He has received awards from ASCAP and the Cleveland Foundation. Many of his compositions feature oboe and have been performed by noteworthy oboists, double reed groups and organizations like John Mack and OBOHIO and at IDRS Conferences. He is noted as a composer of choral music, and has won awards and commissions from various organizations like the Moravian Music Foundation and Ohio BoyChoir. He also has published arrangements of J.S. Bach’s music for the prestigious Barenreiter-Verlag.
As an instructor of music theory, history, music technology and music appreciation, Mark has taught at Cincinnati-College of Music, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and at Forsyth Technical Community College. He also enjoys teaching in his modest oboe studio in Winston-Salem, and is proud of his students who consistently win statewide competitions and auditions.
Dr. Mark J. Cramer is a lecturer in clarinet at The University of North Carolina and Radford University and also performs as third clarinet and bass clarinetist with the Greensboro Symphony. As a clarinetist, he has frequently performed with orchestras located throughout North Carolina, Michigan and Ohio.
Some highlights of his performances include; touring with four-time, Grammy Award winning eighth blackbird performing the premiere of Steve Reich's Pulitzer Prize winning “Double Sextet,” which was featured on NPR’s Performance Today and was the Grand Prize Winner of the UNCG Student Artist Competition, performing Weber’s Concertino and Debussy’s Premiere Rhapsodie for Clarinet and Orchestra.
As an educator, Mark employs a combination of standard, historical, and modern views of pedagogical approach in order for students to gain the most tailored and encouraging environment for growth while maintaining a high standard of performance within the clarinet studio.
In addition to teaching and performing, Mark has a passion for acoustics, fitness and music therapy. His dissertation research was focused on defining the acoustical differences between Cocobolo, Grenadilla, Mopane, and Purpleheart hardwoods, as well as an acetal homopolymer known as Delrin, using his own line of custom clarinet barrels. Mark also has an interest in fitness and the benefits of exercise and performance. He encourages his students to be physically active, as exercise has numerous benefits in the management of the physiological and psychological changes people experience when performing under pressure. Mark is also passionate about the healing power of music, and is involved with the Arts and Health program at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, where he does outreach concerts and classes.
A Michigan native, Mark holds degrees from The Oberlin Conservatory of Music, The University of Michigan, and The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. His principal teachers include Suzy Bratton, Richard Hawkins, Daniel Gilbert, Anthony Taylor, and Kelly Burke.
Khara Kowalski Howe
Khara Kowalski Howe was born and raised on the North Carolina coast. In 2014 Khara graduated from Appalachian State University, where she earned degrees in both Saxophone Performance and Music Education. While there, Khara won the 2012 Appalachian State University Concerto Competition, toured as a member of the Phasma Saxophone Quartet and performed throughout Europe with the Appalachian State Jazz Ensemble.
She is now working to earn a master’s degree at the University of the North Carolina School of the Arts. She performs often with her award-winning quartet, Atchara, the UNCSA Jazz Ensemble and as a pit musician for local musicals. She has performed with jazz artists Randy Brecker, Steve Davis and Paul White. She is a North Carolina Teaching Fellow, inductee of Pi Kappa Lambda Music Honors Society, recipient of the Hayes School of Music Good Student Scholarship and a recipient of the Bill and Judy Watson Scholarship.
Justin Nelson is a saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist born in Gainesville, Florida. He began studying the saxophone at age 12, first training classically and then playing more and more jazz. All through high school he performed with the Buchholz High School Wind Symphony as well as the zero hour jazz bands. He competed regularly and received superior ratings at all solo and ensemble festivals.
He received an Associate of Arts degree from Florida State University (FSU) with an emphasis in jazz saxophone performance and philosophy while on scholarship for classical saxophone performance. During his time there he had the pleasure of studying with well-known saxophone professor William Kennedy. He played in the big band of Scotty Barnhart, lead trumpet player and current director of the Count Basie Band — an ensemble that has won 18 Grammy Awards over its lifespan. Justin enjoys music with a fervent passion and believes in patiently passing on the lessons he has learned from many years of successes and failures to younger generations.
Ryan Roikola is a bassoonist from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He has studied bassoon with Suzanne Pattison at Lynchburg College, where he earned a Bachelor's in Music Education, and with Saxton Rose at UNCSA, where he is currently studying for a Master's in Bassoon Performance. Ryan has had the opportunities to perform throughout the country at venues like Carnegie Hall and abroad in Brazil. Aside from performing, Ryan is also an avid music educator who performs with local ensembles and teaches privately as well.