An exceptional educational festival for your music students in Atlanta!

Our Distinguished Judges

Visit the adjuticator calendar page to view the festival schedule for all of our judges.

Choral Judges:

Dr. Melissa T. Arasi

Dr. Melissa T. Arasi, is the Supervisor of Performing Arts: K-12 General/Choral Music, Theatre, & Dance for the Cobb County School District. A native of the Atlanta area, Dr. Arasi received her Bachelors of Music Education from Shorter College, and a Masters and Doctorate in Choral Music Education from Georgia State University. Prior to her supervisory role, Dr. Arasi was the Director of Choral Activities at George Walton High School in Cobb County, voice coach and children’s choir director. Dr. Arasi recently served as Visiting Assistant Professor at Georgia Tech where she founded and conducted the Women’s Choir. Dr. Arasi was a member of the prestigious Atlanta Symphony Orchestra chorus under the direction of Robert Shaw for five seasons. Choirs under her direction have performed nationally and internationally including New York’s Carnegie Hall, Paris, Montreal, Quebec City, Venice, Florence, Rome, Vienna, Budapest, and Prague. Having experience and expertise with all ages, Melissa frequently serves as a guest clinician, conductor, and adjudicator for all levels of choral ensembles throughout the southeast. Additionally, Melissa serves as a member of numerous arts organization education boards including, Atlanta Opera, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Alliance Theater, Spivey Hall, and Cobb Energy Centre for the Performing Arts.


Dr. Angela L. Batey

Dr. Angela L. Batey is Associate Director of the School of Music at the University of Tennessee as well as Director of Choral Activities. She is recognized as a prominent conductor, clinician, adjudicator and teacher whose wide variety of experience encompasses professional, university, high school, community and church choruses. Dr. Batey conducts the UT Chamber Singers and teaches conducting courses at the graduate levels. Dr. Batey is a Past-President of the Tennessee American Choral Directors Association. She has been Conductor of the Roane Choral Society, Associate Conductor of Schola Cantorum of Florida, a professional chorus, Associate Music Director of the Florida Ambassadors of Music and Festival Director of the International Cathedral Music Festival held annually in the United Kingdom. Dr. Batey has appeared as a clinician for the American Choral Directors Association, South Carolina Music Educators Association, Florida Vocal Association, and is a frequent adjudicator, clinician and guest conductor of choral festivals, honors choirs and educational workshops. Dr. Batey holds two degrees from Birmingham-Southern College in Music Education and Musical Theatre, a master's degree from The Florida State University in Music Education and the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Choral Conducting from the University of South Carolina


Janice Folsom


Janice Folsom, founder and conductor of the Southern Crescent Chorale, retired as choral director at Fayette County High School in Fayetteville, GA after having taught there for 29 years. Ms. Folsom also taught elementary and middle school music during her 34 year career in education. She has conducted the Georgia All-State Senior High Women’s Chorus as well as honor choruses and workshops throughout the state. She serves as a Head Adjudicator for GMEA Performance Evaluations. In November 2003, Ms. Folsom was named a National Board Certified Teacher. Ms. Folsom holds the Bachelor of Music from Samford University and the Master of Music Education from Louisiana State University.

Dr. Alison Mann


Dr. Alison Mann is Assistant Professor of Choral Music Education and Program Coordinator for Music Education at Kennesaw State University, where she teaches coursework in Choral Methods, Foundations of Music Education, Choral Conducting, and Vocal Pedagogy for Ensemble Singing. Mann also supervises student teachers and serves as Conductor of the KSU Women’s Choir. She founded and directs the Middle and High school Georgia Youth Symphony Orchestra Chorus in conjunction with the Georgia Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Mann received her Ph.D. in Music Education and Choral Conducting from the University of Oregon, and a Masters of Choral Music Education and Bachelors of Choral Music Education from Florida State University.


Harry Musselwhite

Harry Musselwhite is Senior Lecturer in Music and Director of Choral Activities at Berry College in Rome, Georgia. He has led his choral groups at Berry College in distinguished performances throughout the world including Carnegie Hall, Spivey Hall, The Rotunda of the United States Senate Building, The Sacre Coeur in Paris, Regents Hall in London, Wells Cathedral, and many, many more. As a vocal soloist he has performed as a soloist in many of the nation's leading opera companies, including Santa Fe, St. Louis Muny Opera, Kansas City Starlight, Asheville Lyric Opera, Chattanooga Opera, and many others. He has performed extensively as an oratorio soloist with the Virtuoso of London Orchestra throughout the United Kingdom. Musselwhite is an award winning filmmaker and screenwriter, and recently had his children's illustrated book "Martin the Guitar" published by Centerstream Publishing and distributed by Hal Leonard. He is executive director emeritus of The Rome International Film Festival.


Lynn Urda

Lynn Urda serves as Conductor & Music Director of the Gwinnett Young Singers, now in its 23rd season. The Young Singers are featured on the Grammy Award winning CD On The Transmigration Of Souls with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, and have sung in fourteen annual performances of “Christmas With The ASO.” GYS has performed at the Fox Theatre with Celtic Woman, and are currently featured on their televised PBS special “Believe.” They performed for thousands of Music Educators at the American Choral Directors Association conferences in South Carolina and Tennessee and were twice selected to perform at the Georgia Music Educators conference in Savannah, Georgia. Mrs. Urda maintains an active schedule as a guest clinician, conductor and adjudicator for All-State & Honors Choirs, Choral Festivals, Youth Music Camps and workshops for youth and their conductors. She holds a degree in Music Education and Voice from the FSU School of Music, and has spent the majority of her professional life serving as a church musician, directing children's, youth and adult choirs. She also serves as the Director of Youth and Children's Choirs at Tucker First United Methodist Church in GA.


Edgar Scruggs is Director of Music Ministries for Mountain Park United Methodist Church and Mr. Scruggs also held the position as Director of Choral Studies, first, at the University of Georgia and most recently, at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. He has been an educator at the high school level and has served as Director of Music for churches in Connecticut, Tennessee and Georgia. Mr. Scruggs received degrees from the University of Tennessee (B.S. and M.M.), The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.C.M.) and has completed course work for his Ph.D. studies at Florida State University. As a vocalist, he sang with Robert Shaw in both the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus and Festival Singers. He has conducted All-State/Honor Choirs, is a prominent clinician and choral adjudicator, and has prepared choirs for many distinguished conductors including Robert Shaw, Sir David Willcocks, and John Rutter. Mr. Scruggs' ensembles have performed at the state, regional and national conventions of the Music Educators National Conference (MENC) and the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA).


John LaForge is Artistic Director and Conductor of the Lanier Chamber Singers, an auditioned choir of 32 voices based in Gainesville, Georgia. He is also Director of Worship Arts at Gainesville First United Methodist Church. He recently served as Coordinator of Music Education for Fulton County Schools, where for many years he worked to support music initiatives with numerous organizations in the Atlanta area and nationally, including the Atlanta Opera, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Capitol City Opera, Spivey Hall, and the Metropolitan Opera National Council. Over the past 25 years, he has performed as a bass-baritone soloist with opera companies throughout the United States, including The Atlanta Opera, Washington National Opera, Dallas Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Central City Opera, and Chautauqua Opera, among others. He has an extensive background performing oratorio and art song repertoire and appears regularly as a soloist in and around metropolitan Atlanta, including with The Michael O’Neal Singers, Atlanta Ballet, Georgia Philharmonic, and Capitol City Opera. In recent years, he has appeared in multiple seasons as a guest artist with the Amalfi Coast Music Festival and has performed as a soloist and conductor on programs with The Michael O’Neal Singers during tours in Austria, Italy, and Spain.


Instrumental Judges:

Dr. David Gregory

Dr. David Gregory, Conductor and Musical Director of the Georgia Wind Symphony, is former Director of Bands/Coordinator of Music Education at Reinhardt University (Ret.) and Director Emeritus of Tara Winds. He has conducted elementary, junior high, high school, community college, university, and professional bands during his career. A former director of bands at Hardaway High School in Columbus (GA), Forest Park High School in Forest Park (GA), and the University of Florida in Gainesville, (FL), and former Clayton County (GA) Coordinator of Instrumental Music, Dr. Gregory served as Assistant to the Superintendent in that school system for twelve years until his retirement from public school work. Dr. Gregory is a Past President of the National Band Association and served eight years as Advisor to the Executive Committee of that organization. At Reinhardt University Dr. Gregory taught undergraduate Music Education classes, music technology, conducting, and orchestration and arranging courses; conducted the Wind Ensemble; supervised student teacher interns; and was coordinator of the Music Education program. Additionally, he taught graduate classes in conducting, scoring and arranging, literature, and directed international studies. He was the Georgia NAfME Collegiate advisor and coordinator of all state NAfME Collegiate activities for GMEA from 2007 until his retirement in 2014.. Personal and professional awards for Dr. Gregory include the MAC Outstanding Bandleader award for the state of Georgia, the Southeastern United States Concert Band Clinic Citation of Excellence, the National Band Association Citation of Excellence thirteen times, the Phi Delta Kappa Excellence in Leadership Education Award, and the Sudler Foundation “Order of Merit.” In 1998 he was inducted into the Phi Beta Mu “Georgia Bandmasters Hall of Fame” and in 2003 received the Phi Beta Mu “Outstanding Bandmaster Award” for the state of Georgia. In 2011 he was presented with the prestigious GMEA “Distinguished Career Award,” and the same yaer was awarded the Kappa Kappa Psi “Distinguished Service to Music Medal” for his work with bands and in the field of Music Education. One of his most significant recognitions came in 2013 when he received the Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award for Reinhardt University, one of the highests awards given by


Richard E. Goodstein

Richard E. Goodstein is Professor of Music and Dean Emeritus of the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities and Professor of Music at Clemson University. During his Clemson tenure, he served as Marching Band Director, Director of Bands, Chair of the Department of Performing Arts and Dean of the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities. Dr. Goodstein has degrees from Miami University (Ohio) and a master’s and Ph.D. from Arizona State University.

As a creative artist, Goodstein served as Music Director for a number of theatrical productions including Rent, Marat/Sade, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The Music Man, and Urinetown. He also supervised the original score for The Decameron Project, an award-winning theatrical production that traveled to the International Fringe Festival. His research interests include arts entrepreneurship, jazz history and leadership.

In addition to his work at Clemson, Dr. Goodstein served as a music director and consultant for the Walt Disney Co. for 30 years, including eleven years as musical director of the Walt Disney World All-American College Band. His professional conducting credits include the Statue of Liberty Centenary Celebration, Orchestra Director at the United Way centennial celebration concert at the Kennedy Center, research associate for the bicentennial of George Washington’s inauguration, and the 25th anniversary of the Special Olympics.



Georgia Ekonomou has been a string educator in Georgia for 37 years, and presently serves as the Director of Orchestras at The Paideia School in Atlanta. Before coming to Paideia, she taught at The Lovett School in Atlanta. In 1991, she was awarded Lovett's Woodward Award for excellence in teaching. She currently conducts three orchestras at The Paideia School. Additionally, she conducts the Emory Junior Chamber Orchestra, the preparatory orchestra of the Emory Symphony Youth Orchestra. In 2014, she conducted the Maryland All-State Orchestra and conducted the Intermediate Symphony Orchestra at the Interlochen Summer Arts Camp.
Her educational background includes a Bachelor of Music Education from Northwestern University, and a Master of Music Education from Georgia State University. Additionally, she studied conducting at the Conductor’s Institute in South Carolina under Harold Farberman and Donald Portnoy.
A violinist, she performs with the Atlanta Opera Orchestra, and has performed with the Woman's Jazz Orchestra of Los Angeles, the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra, the Emory Chamber Players and other ensembles in the Atlanta area. Mrs. Ekonomou served on the advisory committee for the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, and on the national Membership committee for ASTA. She is active throughout the United States as a conductor, clinician and adjudicator.


Dr. Robert J. Ambrose

Dr. Robert J. Ambrose currently serves as Director of Bands, Associate Professor of Music and Associate Director of the School of Music at Georgia State University. As Director of Bands he conducts the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, maintains a highly selective studio of graduate students in the Master of Music in Wind Band Conducting degree program, and oversees a large, comprehensive band program comprised of four concert ensembles and four athletic bands. Ambrose studied formally at Boston
College, Boston University, and Northwestern University, where he received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in conducting. An ardent supporter of contemporary and avant-garde music, Dr. Ambrose is co-founder, co-artistic director and conductor of the Atlanta-based contemporary music ensemble Bent Frequency. Comprised of members of the Atlanta Symphony and Opera Orchestras as well as musicians from Atlanta’s independent music community. Dr. Ambrose is also founder and music director of the Atlanta Chamber Winds a professional dectet.


Lou Cefus


Lou Cefus has over 30 years of teaching experience, including band, orchestra, chorus, and jazz. He begin his career with the Milan Schools, Milan, Ohio and taught at Wheeling High School, Wheeling, West Virginia, the Dekalb County Schools, Decatur, Georgia, Perimeter College, and Augusta State University. He was on the faculty for Georgia's Governor's Honors Program for 4 years. He founded and directed the Jazz Ensemble at Perimeter and conducted the Georgia All-State Jazz Ensemble. The Georgia Music Educators Association presented to him the Music Educator of the Year Award. Lou is in high demand as an adjudicator throughout the southeast.

Dr. Stan DeJarnett

Dr. Stan DeJarnett recently retired as the Superintendent of the Morgan County Schools in Madison, Georgia. During his tenure Morgan County Schools and staff were recognized regionally and nationally for their innovation in use of time, technology and human resources. In 2006, he was selected as “Educator of the Year”. Dr. DeJarnett’s background in music includes successful experience at the high school and college level in both Georgia and Illinois. He served as the State Music Consultant for the Georgia Department of Education, where his record included expansion of the music component at the Georgia Governor’s Honors Program to include jazz performance. He has served on the boards of the Georgia Music Educators Association and the Georgia Association of Jazz Educators, where he also served as President. He is still active in the Southeast as an adjudicator and clinician for concert bands and jazz ensembles. He performs as a regular member with the Atlanta 17 Jazz Orchestra, as well as other Atlanta area bands. He earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Music Education at Western Carolina University and his Doctorate in Educational Leadership at the University of Georgia.


Dr. Patrick Dunnigan

Dr. Patrick Dunnigan is Director of Bands and Professor of Music at The Florida State University College of Music in Tallahassee. A member of the FSU faculty since 1991, Dr. Dunnigan is the principal conductor and music director of the University Symphonic Band and co-director of the FSU Marching Chiefs. As Director of Bands, he oversees all aspects of the Florida State band program that includes four concert bands, a chamber music program, graduate teaching program, and athletic pep bands. A native of Frankfort, Kentucky, Dr. Dunnigan received the Doctor of Philosophy in Music Education degree from the University of Texas at Austin, the Master of Music in Conducting degree from Northwestern University, and the Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Kentucky. He received the prestigious Florida State University Teaching Award in 2003 and 2012. In 2006, Dr. Dunnigan was elected to membership in the American Bandmasters Association. Dr. Dunnigan currently serves as National Vice President of the College Band Directors National Association and will assume the national presidency of CBDNA in 2015.


Dr. J. Ashley Jarrell

Dr. J. Ashley Jarrell is currently serving as Director of Instrumental Music at the University of North Georgia - Gainesville Campus, where his responsibilities include conducting instrumental ensembles and overseeing all facets of the instrumental music program. He received the Master of Arts degree in Wind Conducting from Middle Tennessee State University and the Bachelor of Music degree from East Tennessee State University. Before coming to the University of Illinois, Dr. Jarrell served as Director of Bands at Martin Luther King Jr. Academic Magnet School in Nashville, Tennessee. Consistently named by U.S. News and World Report and Newsweek magazines as one of the fifty best high schools in the nation, Martin Luther King Jr. Previously, Dr. Jarrell also served as Associate Director of Bands at Middle Tennessee State University and Associate Director of Bands at Harpeth High School. Dr. Jarrell is active as a clinician and adjudicator throughout the United States. He is also an active member of many professional organizations including National Association for Music Education, National Band Association, College Band Directors National Association, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia and elected membership with American School Band Directors Association, Phi Beta Mu and Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honor Society.


Alfred L. Watkins

Alfred L. Watkins has been Director of Bands at Lassiter High School since 1982. Bands under Watkins’ direction have performed in every major invitational venue in America including twice at the Midwest Band Clinic, three times at the National Concert Band Festival and three times at the GMEA Convention. The Lassiter Marching Band is a two-time BOA National Champion and has won ten BOA Regional Championships. The band has also participated in three Tournament of Roses parades, two Orange Bowl Parades and three Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parades. The band program is one of only seven high school bands in America to have received both the Sudler Flag of Honor (concert) and Sudler Shield (marching). Mr. Watkins is a member of the Florida A & M Hall of Fame, the BOA Hall of Fame, and has been elected to the American Bandmasters Association. He has received fourteen Certificates of Excellence from the National Band Association, the Sudler Order of Merit from the John Philip Sousa Foundation and the Band World Magazine Legion of Honor, for significant contributions to bands and band music. Mr. Watkins is cofounder, conductor and musical director of the Cobb Wind Symphony, an
adult community band. They have twice performed at the Georgia Music Educators Convention, the Midwest Clinic and the NBA/CBDNA Southern Division Conventions. He is the Chair of the Organizing Committee for the newly founded Minority Band Directors National Association.


Gene Inglis, a graduate from Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Alabama, has completed his 40th year teaching and his 10th year as Director of Bands at Saks High School in Anniston, Alabama. Gene is an active member of Music Educators National Conference, Alabama Music Educators Association, the National Band Association, Phi Beta Mu Honorary Professional Music Fraternity and Phi Mu Alpha Professional Music Fraternity. He has served in various leadership positions in these organizations over the past 40 years including the State Band Chair for Georgia Music Educators Association. In the areas of marching, concert, and jazz performance, Mr. Inglis has served as adjudicator, conductor, and clinician throughout the southeast. He has received the national awards including the “Legion of Honor” and the “Citation of Excellence” presented by the National Band Association in 2007 and 2012. He was listed as the Alabama recipient for the “50 Directors Making a Difference” in the Band and Orchestra Magazine. He received the Alabama Music Educators Association’s “Outstanding Music Educator Award” at their In-Service Conference in 2013.

Benjamin J. Diden is Associate Director of Athletic Bands and Assistant Director of Bands at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he serves as conductor of the Symphonic Band. His duties also include teaching and writing drill for the 370 member Yellow Jacket Marching Band, Music Theory, Applied Clarinet instruction and he serves as the Faculty Sponsor of the Epsilon Theta chapter of Tau Beta Sigma. Mr. Diden received the Bachelor of Music in Music Education degree and the Master of Music in Instrumental Conducting degree from the University of Tennessee. His primary conducting teachers include Dr. Gary Sousa and Professor James Copenhaver.
Mr. Diden is a member of the College Band Directors National Association, the National Band Association and an honorary member of Tau Beta Sigma and Kappa Kappa Psi.

Dr. Kerry Bryant Bryant is currently the Director of Bands at Adairsville (GA) High School and serves as Adjunct Faculty in Music Education at Reinhardt University. His broad experience ranges from elementary to graduate music education during a storied 28-year career in teaching and administration. He served as a Coordinator of Fine Arts for the Barrow County (GA) schools, pioneering many notable and award-wining initiatives. He was selected as the 2011 Honoree for the Woodruff Arts in Education Leaders in Atlanta, and also the Georgia Music Educator of the Year in 2016. His fine symphonic bands have been invited to perform at numerous college band clinics and symposia across the country. Dr. Bryant maintains an active adjudication, clinician and conducting schedule nationally. His editions, arrangements and transcriptions for bands may be found in the catalogs of Schirmer and Arrangers Publishing. He holds degrees from the Universities of Kentucky (BME), South Carolina (MME), Lincoln Memorial (Ed.S.) and Liberty (Ed.D.).

Dr. Cathie Hudnall

Dr. Cathie Hudnall Dr. Hudnall received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of music, her Master’s degree from Georgia State University, and her Doctoral degree from Mercer University. Currently she is the Orchestra Director at Norcross High School and is the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Metropolitan Youth Symphony Orchestra. She was the teacher of the year at Norcross High School and received the American String Teachers Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr. Hudnall is a regular conductor and clinician for honor ensembles throughout the state, was the conductor of the SC All-State Orchestra in 2002, the Mississippi All-State Orchestra in 2005, and has been invited to conduct the California All-State Orchestra in 2021. As a professional cellist, she has performed with numerous orchestras. She currently is a member of the Candler String Quartet.


Other Judges


Dr. Bill Caldwell - Brentwood UMC
Mr. Doyle Register - St. Luke UMC
Mr. Phillip Shoultz - Gwinnett Choral Guild
Ms. Suzanne Shull - Retired Educator
Dr. Gwyn Spell - Retired Educator


2023 Southern Star Music Festival
March 24th and 25th 2023 April 28th and 29th 2023
April 14th and 15th 2023 May 5th and 6th 2023
April 21st and 22nd 2023 May 12th and 13th 2023
Holiday in the Park 2020 for Choral
December 5th 2020
December 12th 2020

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Southern Star Music Festival
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