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HC Elementary GT and GT Sinfonia Orchestra Directors

GT Orchestra Directors

Patrick Walls, program director and director of the GT elementary orchestraPatrick Walls, Program Director for the elementary orchestras and Music Director of the Elementary GT Orchestra.

Maestro Walls has over 20 years of teaching experience, and has served as the Director of the Elementary Gifted and Talented Orchestra throughout his tenure with Howard County.  In public school education, Mr. Walls has taught at all levels including Elementary, Middle, Jr. High, and High School. Mr. Walls was instrumental in developing the string curriculum guide for Howard County and has introduced the guide to other Counties throughout Maryland.  Currently, he is Director of Orchestras at Folly Quarter Middle School and Lime Kiln Middle School. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Mr. Walls also mentors first year music teachers in Howard County.

In addition to his responsibilities in Howard County, Mr. Walls has served as President of the Maryland Orchestra Director’s Association and as Manager of the Senior All-State Orchestra for many years. Mr. Walls has also served as the Chairperson for the Orchestra Festival List for the State of Maryland. Further, Mr. Walls is highly sought after as an adjudicator, guest conductor, and clinician throughout Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.

As a violinist, Mr. Walls has performed with Altoona Symphony, Baltimore Opera, Baltimore Philharmonia, Charleston Symphony, Gettysburg Symphony, Huntington Chamber Orchestra, Maryland Symphony, Pittsburgh Opera, Washington Symphony, West Virginia Symphony, Wheeling Symphony, and Youngstown Symphony and has been a conductor for the Orchestra at St. John’s.  Mr. Walls studied under the tutelages of Jane Lower, Charles Stegman, Stephen Hyde, Alexander Meshibovsky, and Nicole Hamill. Also, Mr. Walls has studied advanced techniques in violin pedagogy with Mimi Zweig and Rebecca Henry.

Mr. Walls holds multiple advanced degrees in music from West Virginia University and Boston University and also an advanced degree in Educational Technology from Loyola University of Maryland.

Sari O'Bryan, Assistant Director of the Elementary GT Orchestra

Sari O'BryanSari O’Bryan is an educator, conductor and violinist originally from Helena, Montana.  Mrs. O’Bryan graduated from the College of Music at Loyola University, New Orleans, earning a Bachelor of Music.  She also holds a Masters of Music Education from Boston University.

Mrs. O’Bryan is the Director of Orchestras at Centennial Lane Elementary School and Clarksville Elementary School in Howard County.  As a string specialist for Baltimore County, Mrs. O’Bryan taught at Sudbrook Magnet Middle School where her string orchestras received consistent superior ratings at county and state festivals.  She was also the co-director of the Baltimore County Summer String Camp.  Mrs. O’Bryan has been an adjudicator for violin, viola, cello, and bass for the Baltimore County Junior and Senior All-Honors Orchestras as well as for the Maryland Junior All-State Orchestra and Senior All-State Orchestras.  She has also served as an adjudicator for multiple Maryland county Solo and Ensemble festivals.

Mrs. O’Bryan began her teaching career as an Artist in Residence in the state of South Carolina at the Charleston County School for the Arts in Charleston, SC where she taught middle school strings.   She also served as a clinician for the South Carolina Regional Orchestra, as a violin adjudicator for the South Carolina Junior All-State Orchestra and as the cello section coach for the Charleston Youth Symphony Orchestra.  Mrs. O’Bryan has also been an elementary general music teacher in Miami, FL working primarily with ESOL and ED children.

Mrs. O’Bryan is a classically trained violinist studying primarily with Valerie Poulette.  She is also a proficient violist and cellist under the tutelage of Suzanne Lefevre and Allen Nisbet.   She is married to another Howard County Orchestra Director, Mr. Colin O’Bryan of Reservoir High School, and the mother of beautiful children, Eamonn and Fiona.          

Elementary GT Sinfonia Directors

Valerie LawrenceValerie Lawrence, Co-Director of the Elementary GT Sinfonia

Mrs. Lawrence has been an Orchestra Director in Howard County since 1988. She has worked at schools all over the county. For the past 15 years she has been the Director of Orchestras at Elkridge Landing Middle School and she also teaches at Elkridge Elementary School. She loves teaching both elementary and middle school strings and enjoys working with all her students. Mrs. Lawrence’s middle school orchestras have been recognized time and time again for outstanding performances at festivals.

The violin is her primary instrument but she also plays piano, accompanying students at the County and State Solo and Ensemble Festivals. Mrs. Lawrence is a former member of the Maryland Symphony under the direction of Barry Tuckwell and has also performed for the Pittsburgh and Baltimore Opera. She is a free lance violinist and perform all over the Baltimore and Washington area. Mrs. Lawrence performed at Hood College for 12 years in Handel’s “Messiah” as well as various operas and concerts.

She studied with Dr. Donald Portnoy and Stephen Hyde at West Virginia University performing in both the West Virginia Symphony and Symphonette. Mrs. Lawrence then continued her education at Duquesne University. Once she moved to Baltimore, she continued her studies with Herbert Greenberg, former Concertmaster of the Baltimore Symphony.

Mrs. Lawrence comes from a musical family- her brothers are working musicians in Pittsburgh and her husband Tom is one of the most sought-after guitarists in Baltimore and Washington. They perform together at various events around town. She performs occasionally with her brothers and was featured on their family CD entitled “RML” Jazz. She resides in Columbia with her husband Tom and cat Ella.

Sarah Castrillon, Co-Director of the Elementary GT Sinfonia

Sarah CastrillonSarah Pohl Castrillon has taught at Talbott Springs Elementary School and Oakland Mills Middle School since 2007. During those years, her middle school orchestras have consistently received superior ratings at county and state festivals.

Mrs. Castrillon was born and raised in Arlington, VA to a very musical family and went on to earn a Bachelor's of Music Education degree from the University of Maryland, College Park studying violin with Dr. James Stern. After graduation in 2005, Mrs. Castrillon went back to the University of Maryland to receive a Master's degree in Viola Performance studying with the principal violist of the National Symphony Orchestra, Daniel Foster. 

During her years at the University of Maryland she participated in the National Orchestral Institute, Joven Orquesta de Galicia in La Coruna, Spain and the International Festival-Institute at Round Top, Texas.  She was also a member of the Chamber Music Connections string quartet providing music outreach programs to elementary students in the Prince George's County Public Schools.  She currently plays with the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra in Virginia and has performed with such artists as Peter Serkin, Roberto Diaz, Jaime Laredo, Zuill Bailey, Clay Aiken and members of the Guarneri String Quartet.