Anna Grazhdanova Billias

Assistant Professor of Music
Director of Piano Studies and Collaborative Performance
(434) 381-6491
[email protected]Edited_billias_2

D.M.A. Student, Shenandoah Conservatory
M.A., Donetsk Prokofiev State Academy of Music
M.A., Donetsk National University
M.A., Donetsk State University of Management

Anna Billias was trained as a concert pianist at the Prokofiev State Academy of Music in Donetsk, Ukraine (originally the Prokofiev Conservatory of Music) and graduated with advanced degrees in both performance and instruction for piano. During her school tenure, Anna performed with the school’s symphony orchestra, where she was a featured soloist and frequent accompanist throughout the Donetsk Oblast.  Anna was invited to perform in Paris, France, for the International Music Forum in the fall of 1997, and was a prizewinner in the Prokofiev International Piano Competition in 1995, where she competed against pianists from across Europe. Anna is currently attending the Shenandoah Conservatory where she is pursuing her D.M.A. in piano performance.

Anna has performed in numerous concerts at Sweet Briar College, Hampden Sydney College, Lynchburg College, Liberty University, Randolph College, James Madison University, London, England, Partenit and Donestk, Ukraine, and in Lynchburg for fundraising events for the Forte Chamber Music Festival and the Lynchburg Symphony Orchestra. Anna has been invited to judge CVMTA competitions and is a frequent jurist for musical events in Amherst, Lynchburg and Charlottesville. In 2010, she premiered a performance of Joelle Wallach’s “Daughters of Silence.”

At Sweet Briar, Anna is currently Director of Piano Studies and Collaborative Performance. In her spare time, she is the music director at a local church and runs a growing private piano studio. She is also the proud mother of three musically gifted children and a supportive, but non-musically talented husband!

Anna teaches rudiments of music, applied piano, vocal performance technique, senior seminar, concert/chamber choir, and recital classes.


Jeffrey A. Jones

Assistant Professor of MusicEdited_Jones
(434) 381-6121
[email protected]

Ph.D., Florida State University
M.M., Appalachian State University
B.M., Appalachian State University

Jeffrey A. Jones holds a Ph.D. in musicology from The Florida State University and is an active scholar, composer and performer. His research has been published in a variety of media and he has presented papers at regional, national and international conferences. Jeff’s work as a composer and arranger has been featured in concert tours of Japan, Russia, Trinidad, and Australia as well as theatrical productions and a television commercial. As a conductor and percussionist, Jeff has performed throughout the United States and internationally with a diverse group of artists and ensembles, including Skiffle Bunch Steel Orchestra, III MEF U.S. Marine Corps Field Band, The New Paradigm Percussion Quartet, and blues artists Thomas “Guitar” Gable, Dr. Dixon and The King Bees.

At Sweet Briar, Jeff conducts the chamber orchestra and teaches music history, music theory, applied conducting and world music. 

Marcia Thom-Kaley

Assistant Professor of Music
Director of Voice and Choral Studies
(434) 381-6221D
[email protected]

Level I Certification of Somatic Voicework – The Lovetri Method, The Contemporary Commercial Music Vocal Pedagogy Institute, Shenandoah University

B.A., Virginia Tech

Marcia is director of voice and choral studies at Sweet Briar and serves as the director of music for the Blue Ridge Summer Institute for Young Artists.  She conducts the Concert and Chamber Choirs and is an instructor of applied voice.    At the 2009 Commencement Exercises of Sweet Briar College, Marcia was awarded the prestigious Connie Burwell White award for Excellence in Teaching by the Student Government Association.

A soprano, she has sung leading and supporting operatic roles professionally throughout the United States with companies including Opera Memphis, Nashville Opera, Kentucky Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera and, locally, Opera On The James.  She has also appeared with the Roanoke Symphony, Nashville Symphony Orchestra and the Lynchburg Symphony.  As a member of Actor’s Equity Association, Marcia has appeared in an extensive list of musical theatre productions.  A frequent soloist, she has sung the National Anthem at numerous Susan G. Komen events and was the featured soloist at the 2012 National Convention of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Washington, D.C.In the 2012-2013 academic year, Concert Choir students were featured in The Magic Flute, produced by Opera on the James.   Chamber Choir singers were featured in the All State Collegiate Choir in a production sponsored by the Richmond Symphony Orchestra.

Dana Ballardballard

Adjunct Instructor of Applied Piano

B.M., Northwestern University

Dana Wade Ballard is a native of El Paso, Texas. She received her education at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, where she studied with Donald Isaak. During her career as a professional musician, she has served as accompanist for the Hamilton College Oratorio Society, accompanied recitals at Hamilton College and Lynchburg College, and served as music director and children’s choir director for churches in New York, New Hampshire and Virginia. Dana is also active in the Lynchburg theatre community and has served as music director for shows with the Academy of Fine Arts, Ivy Mountain Players, Sweet Briar College and Jefferson Forest High School.

She serves as music director and children’s choir director at Heritage United Methodist Church in Lynchburg and staff accompanist at Lynchburg College. She also maintains a private studio, teaching applied piano and coaching musical theatre. Dana lives in Forest with her husband, Kenneth A. Ballard.td>

Andrew GabbertEdited_Cello Instructor

Adjunct Instructor of Cello

B.S., Indiana University
M.M., Louisiana State University

Cellist Andrew Gabbert performs with the ground-breaking flute and cello duo Terra Voce. Known for creative programs combining the diverse and the unexpected, they have thrilled audiences at venues across the country such as the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center and New York’s Riverside Church. Andrew previously held titled positions with the Tulsa Philharmonic and Opera orchestras for eleven years. He has performed as a soloist with the Tulsa Philharmonic and the National Repertory Orchestras, and been a member of the Baton Rouge Symphony, National Repertory Orchestra, Terre Haute Symphony, and Camerata Chamber Orchestra. Festival orchestral appearances include the Britt Festival (OR), Sunriver Festival, Texas Festival-Institute Orchestra, Wintergreen Festival, and the Solisti New York Orchestra at the OK Mozart Festival. As a chamber musician, he performed regularly in concerts and educational presentations as a member of the Tulsa Philharmonic String Quartet/Quintet. In addition to performing, Andrew is a dedicated pedagogue and has taught as a visiting instructor at the University of Oklahoma and as a graduate assistant at Louisiana State University.

Raymond Weidner

Adjunct Instructor of Organ


Edited_WeidnerB.M., Westminster Choir College
M.M., Western Michigan University
Ph.D., Michigan State University

Raymond Weidner is a nationally recognized composer of instrumental, choral, and organ works. His compositions are found in the catalogues of National Music, MorningStar Music, Paraclete Press, St. James Press, Wayne Leupold Editions, and Zimbel Press, and have been performed by such prestigious choirs as the Westminster Choir (Princeton, NJ) and the “Gloriae Dei Cantoris” (Orleans, MA) among other professional and collegiate choruses. His works have been featured at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC and nationally over NPR’s Theme and Variations. His compositions have received excellent reviews in both local and national venues: “Psalm 130” for chorus and orchestra was called “…a work of epic grandeur” (NPR), “O Sacrum Convivium” for women’s ensemble and harp was called “…a lovely work…in a style similar to the works of John Taverner.” (“American Record Guide”), and of the cantata “O Vos Omnes” for choir, organ, and strings the “Annapolis Capital” has said, “The piece was easily the most memorable choral work on the program, which is really saying something, considering that it was juxtaposed against Felix Mendelssohn’s “O Sacred Head” and Jean Langlais’ “Missa Salve Regina”…This is clearly a work that should become part of the mainstream Lenten choral repertoire.” Of his French Sketches for organ, “The American Organist” has said, “If these pieces were advertised as recently discovered works by Mulet or the aforementioned composers [Dupré, Duruflé, and Cochereau] there’d be a run on the music store…you’ll want to play them all.” His “Missa Brevis” was one of five works selected from the entire catalogue of Paraclete Press for performance at their 25th anniversary celebration. In 2011 he won two national competitions sponsored by the American Guild of Organists for its regional conventions in Lexington, KY and Greensboro, NC. In 2012, his “Te Deum” for choir, brass, timpani, and organ was premiered under the auspices of the Church Music Institute (Dallas, TX). His “Scherzo” was recently recorded on Raven CDs by British born, internationally known recitalist, Jeremy Filsell at the Washington National Cathedral.

Raymond has performed under such notable conductors as Leonard Bernstein, Leopold Stokowski, Roger Wagner, and David Willcocks. He has over 40 years’ experience in the field of church music, having served churches in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Oklahoma, Maryland, and Virginia, and has been active as a clinician and adjudicator. As a choral director, he developed professional and semi-professional choruses in Michigan and Oklahoma, and wrote and produced a weekly radio program devoted to choral music over KCMA-FM. As an organist, he has performed throughout the United States, at Salisbury Cathedral (England), and on the famous Wanamaker organ in Philadelphia. He was Artistic Director and Conductor of the Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra (Jackson, MS), and is the author of two books. He also teaches composition at Lynchburg College and is the director of music at First Presbyterian Church in Lynchburg, Va.
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Daniel G. Kepel-Young

Adjunct Instructor of Violin
(434) 381-6221
[email protected]