Judges for Freedom Showcase
Dr. Samuel Ambrose
Dr. Samuel Ambrose turns back-row tuba playing into frontline artistry, bringing high-caliber style to performances, outreach, and educational experiences. His sound supports a variety of ensembles, most recently with the Peabody orchestras and wind ensembles, as well as the Eastern Edge Brass Quintet of Baltimore, MD. Ambrose has also performed for the Sunrise Pops Orchestra in Sunrise, FL, as well as freelancing in the area. When he is not performing in the concert hall, Sam takes his talents to senior communities and homeless shelters, providing free educational recital programs.
As an educator, Mr. Ambrose’s teaching ranges from private instruction to master classes, clinics, and ensemble instruction. He currently teaches Instrumental Music at University Park and Hyattsville Elementary Schools, and is also tuba faculty at the Fredericksburg Brass Institute, and on staff with the Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps as a visual technician. His previous appointments include visual instruction with the Boston Crusaders, the Oregon Crusaders Drum and Bugle Corps, and many high school and WGI groups in Florida, Maryland, and Illinois.
Sam currently lives just outside of Washington D.C., where he has recently received a Master’s degree in Tuba Performance from The Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University. Sam also holds a Bachelors of Music Education degree from Florida State University. His teachers include David Fedderly and Paul Ebbers.
Dr. Brandon Cochenour
Dr. Brandon Cochenour currently hails from Alexandria, VA, a suburb of Washington DC. Brandon has over 15 years experience as an instructor, designer, adjudicator, and clinician in the marching arts. He has served as an adjudicator for USBands, VBODA, AIA, CIPA, TCGC, IPA, PFCJ, and numerous independent venues across the mid-Atlantic. He was a 2014 WGI Percussion Judges Academy participant, served as a clinician and contributor for Dynamic Marching, and a graduate of the Marching Roundtable Judges Academy. Brandon is a graduate of Kiski Area HS (PA) and a former marching member of the Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps.
Dr. Cochenour has degrees in Electrical Engineering from Lafayette College (BS), Johns Hopkins University (MS), and North Carolina State University (PhD). As a researcher, he has over 50 technical publications which have been referenced nearly 900 times in scientific literature, 4 U.S. Patents and Disclosures, and a textbook chapter on laser communications. He is a 2006 and 2012 U.S. Navy Engineer of the Year, a 2010 Maryland Academy of Sciences “Outstanding Young Engineer of the Year”, and a NAVAIR Associate Fellow. In his spare time, Brandon can be found performing regularly around the DC area as a jazz pianist.
Elisa Lessard has been involved with color guard as a performer, choreographer, designer, instructor, and adjudicator for over 20 years. She believes in the power of color guard and marching band to shape the lives of those who dedicate themselves to this activity. Ms. Lessard holds a Bachelor of Music Education Degree from Texas Christian University and a Master’s in Music Performance from the University of North Texas. She is a former music educator in Fairfax County before deciding to stay home with her small children. She has taught successful color guard programs in North Texas as well as Northern Virginia. Currently, she serves as an adjudicator for the Atlantic Indoor Association, a thriving winter guard circuit in the Northern Virginia area. Elisa lives in Woodbridge, Virginia with her husband and three children.
Dave Kaiser is a recently retired Band Director, after 35 successful years in Indiana, Illinois and Ohio. He taught mainly grades 5 – 12 band, and his programs were very active in marching, jazz, and concert band. David is currently serving as Music Caption Head for CSJA, where he has been an active member the past 18 years. He is an independent consultant for marching bands in the Cincinnati/Dayton area, where he also adjudicates various concert festivals. David is also a WGI Winds Adjudicator in Music Analysis, and judges Winds events for various indoor associations, including e-adjudicate (online). He is currently the MEPA Winds Judge Administrator and oversees the judges for MEPA Winds. He has served on the OMEA Adjudicated Events Committee as the Jazz Chair and served as Jazz Chair for OMEA District 13 and 14. David resides with his wife, Deb in Venice, Florida.
Tim Bray taught percussion at Tunstall High School for over 25 years and was also the founding director of the Virginia Helmsmen. The Virginia Helmsmen and the Tunstall Concert Ensemble are perennial finalists and medalists at WGI. Tim has also served on the WGI advisory board for many years shaping the percussion activity nationally. He has consulted with many national high school groups and represents VA on the national level. Tim has been inducted into the WGI Hall of Fame and the AIA Hall of Honor for his contributions to both organizations. He and his wife Debra have raised two children who are both highly active in the winter percussion activity.
Bob Thomas judges or has judged for Drum Corp International (DCI), Winter Guard International WGI), Drum Corp Midwest, Drum Corp Atlantic, Indiana State Scholastic Music Association (ISMMA), Bands of America (BOA), Drum Corp Europe (DCE), Youth Education in the Arts (YEA), Ohio Judges Association, Florida Federation of Judges, Atlantic Indoor Association (AIA), Pennsylvania Federation of Judges, and Marching in Okayama, Japan, Drum Corp Associates (DCA). In 2008 he judged the World Marching Band Championships in Malaysia. He judged the 2009 Thailand Drum Line Competition. He recently returned from Malaysia where he taught the DCE Judges college for DCE license partner M World Band Championships.
He has been the Director of Education for Drum Corp Europe for the past 15 years. He designed the current scoring system for Drum Corp Asia which is currently being used in 16 countries. He has also been the Director of Education for the Florida Judges Association, the Ohio Judges Association, and the Atlantic Indoor Association. Bob was very instrumental in helping establish the VMBC judging system.
Chris Martin has been a percussion arranger, visual designer, instructor and adjudicator for over 20 years. As a graduate of Florida State University, he has been the primary percussion arranger for the FSU Marching Chiefs since 1992. Within the indoor percussion activity, he was a founder of the George Mason University Drumline after guiding several prominent high school programs in Northern Virginia to multiple WGI regional and national medals. Chris has been a member of the United States Air Force Band in Washington DC since 1997, performing across the United States, Europe, Japan and Southwest Asia.
Paul Fadoul's successful career as a performer, composer, and teacher has deep roots in both the concert and marching percussion community. Since 2003, he has performed in the groundbreaking duo, Lawler + Fadoul with flutist Zara Lawler. Hailed as “a great treat” (Classical WETA, Washington DC), the duo blends classical virtuosity with lively commentary and theatrical flair. In 2013, Lawler + Fadoul released its debut album, Prelude Cocktail, which the music blog, I Care If You Listen called “collaborative artistry at its finest.” Since forming, Lawler + Fadoul have performed together in many of North America’s most prestigious concert series and venues, including the Kennedy Center, Strathmore, Trinity Wall Street, the Edmonton Recital Society, and McMaster University’s Celebrity Concert Series.
Paul is also a founding member and principal composer/arranger of Dark by Five, the ensemble-in-residence at Canada’s Gros Morne Summer Music Festival in Newfoundland and Labrador. The ensemble expands the boundaries of musical presentation by weaving classical, contemporary, and popular music with theater, poetry, visual art and visual media working with renowned artists such as the celebrated Canadian poet, Don McKay and guitarist Duane Andrews.
A dedicated teacher and educator, Paul has toured with the ensemble Tales & Scales, where he performed 200 shows annually for children and families, including solo performances with the Milwaukee, Buffalo, and Oregon symphonies. He has taught at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University and the George Mason University drumline. He was director and designer of the Chantilly High School Indoor Drumline which, under his leadership, became a two-time medalist at the WGI World Championships. Paul is currently on faculty at The Sunderman Conservatory of Music at Gettysburg College.
Originally from Fairfax, Virginia, Paul has a Bachelor of Music from George Mason University and a Master of Music from Yale University where he studied with Robert van Sice.
Paul Fadoul proudly endorses Vic Firth sticks and mallets, Pearl/Adams drums and keyboards, and Evans drum heads.