Meet the Ensemble

Sam Clark, flute

Sam Clark — Piccolo & Flutes

Sam first picked up a flute in 6th grade in her hometown of Farmington Hills, Michigan. After initially throwing it against a wall (true story!) she hasn’t put it or its successors down for more than a few months at a time since. She earned her Bachelor of Music Performance from Alma College and says, “I then went on to get a Master of Business Administration just to keep things real.”

Having been a counselor at Interlochen Arts Camp for several years, Sam moved to Traverse City permanently in 1981. Upon arrival, she immediately joined what was then the Benzie Symphonette (now the Benzie Area Symphony Orchestra), under the direction of Julia Kurtyka, and the NMC Concert Band. Since then she has performed with many other local organizations, including the Traverse Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Opera, Leelanau County Players, Northport Community Band, and the West Side Winds.

Sam has been active at the Old Town Playhouse in Traverse City for over 30 years. In that time, she has worn many hats having served on its Artistic Board, worked as Music Director for 18 musicals and counting, played flute and saxophone in countless pit orchestras, and has even made appearances onstage! A founding board member of Traverse City’s Encore Winds, Sam performed faithfully with Encore Winds as principal flutist for many years.

In her spare time, Sam runs Bell Title Lakeshore in Beulah while volunteering with local environmental organizations such as the The Watershed Center for Grand Traverse Bay. She especially loves skiing, camping, kayaking, sailing, biking, hiking and traveling with her partner, Bill, and their super-human dog. “In addition to its rich arts environment,” she says, “I’m grateful for the woods, waters, and winds of northwestern lower Michigan.”

Jason McKinney, harp

Jason McKinney — Oboe, English Horn, Saxophone, Lever Harp & Piano

Jason knew he wanted to be a musician the first time he passed by an unattended piano as a toddler. From those first clusters of notes splattered with his palms began a lifelong passion for learning, practicing, and sharing music — a journey that has taken him from his hometown of Springfield, Louisiana, all the way to Chicago and now Northwest Michigan.

Originally a saxophonist, Jason began studying oboe in his junior year after being inspired by the oboist who sat in front of him in a band concert. “I had never seen an oboe before, so I wasn’t sure what I was hearing; I just knew I had to play that instrument. I wish I could say my first attempts were magical, but I actually gave up twice before committing to it,” he says. He went on to study oboe at Southeastern Louisiana University where he eventually served as principal oboist with both the Wind Symphony and Chamber Orchestra. He earned his Bachelor of Music Performance having studied with Earnest Harrison, Lisa McCullough, and Mary Young.

Upon completion of his bachelor’s degree, he was accepted to pursue Musicology studies at the Chicago Conservatory of Performing Arts. This prompted him to move to Chicago, but due to financial difficulties and a change of heart, he withdrew. “I knew music would always be an important part of my life, but I no longer felt drawn to a career in music,” he says. No longer a student, he found work as an invoicing specialist with EveryWarehouse — a logistics company in Evanston, IL. No longer an oboist, he began finding other ways to share music and find that necessary musical outlet: as a church accompanist, a choir director, and as a composer/arranger.

In 2010, he began independently studying lever harp. “Buying a harp without ever having touched a single harp string is probably one of the most spontaneous things I’ve ever done,” he says, “I had no idea whether or not I would enjoy playing, but I knew I had to try.” With a few lessons and guidance from Annette Bjorling, he was on his way.

Finally, after more than eight years apart, he found an opportunity to return to the oboe in August 2012. The happy reunion has continued: in addition to Manitou Winds he performs regularly with the NMC Concert Band while occasionally collaborating with Encore Winds and the Old Town Playhouse pit orchestra. Jason lives in Maple City with his husband, James, and their cats.
Anne Bara, clarinet

Anne Bara — Clarinets

Anne grew up in Madison, South Dakota, playing music from the beginning. She started piano lessons at age seven and then clarinet at age ten.

After graduating from Lawrence University with a double degree in Clarinet Performance and Mathematics, she moved to New York City to study with master teacher Kalmen Opperman. While there, she did freelance work, taught at the St. Thomas Choir School, and chanced to meet her future husband.

After moving to Northern Michigan, Anne began teaching in the Traverse City Area Public Schools, earning her Master’s degree in Education. She currently teaches mathematics at Interlochen Arts Academy.

Anne served as concertmaster with Encore Winds in Traverse City for several seasons and remains a frequent collaborator with local ensembles as her schedule allows. She teaches private lessons and is a frequent member of the pit orchestra for Old Town Playhouse productions. She lives in Interlochen with her husband, Tom (a fellow musician), and their two children.
Laura Hood, horn

Laura Hood — Horn & Guitar

Laura grew up in Grand Haven, Michigan. She earned her Bachelor of Horn Performance with a minor in guitar from Michigan State University.

Following several years of world travel and living in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, she and her husband, Bruce, moved to Northwest Michigan to teach at the Leelanau School in Glen Arbor. Now a member of the faculty for over 20 years, she continues to teach guitar, jazz band, outdoor education, and senior leadership to eager students.

Laura and her family live in an intentional community on a large farm in Leelanau County where over the years they have raised horses, a dairy cow, chickens, pigs, and of course a very large garden. Her son, Ian, graduated from NMU in Marquette with a degree in chemistry. Her daughter, Jessie, is currently pursuing a degree in Equine Therapy at Findlay University.

In addition to performing with and sharing her compositions with Manitou Winds, Laura performs frequently with the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra, the NMC Concert Band, the Benzie Area Symphony Orchestra, and an alternative-folk trio called Da Sista Hood.
Christina Duperron, bassoon

Christina Duperron — Bassoon

Christina is a Northern Michigan native, originally from Mesick. She began studying music as a young child on both piano and flute and then at age thirteen discovered the bassoon.

“Having a mom who was a band director all throughout my grade school and high school years definitely shaped my musical experience. Music has always been a big part of my life,” she says. In addition to her full schedule of band rehearsals, festivals, and private lessons, Christina also participated in various music camps during her summers including the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp and Western Michigan University’s Seminar.

“In searching for a career, I knew music performance or teaching were not going to be the right fit for me, but I knew I still needed to be in a creative field. Thus, I began studies in Interior Design,” she says. And while never straying too far from music, she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Interior Design from Kendall College of Art and Design and has been running her own interior design business (Duperron Designs, Inc.) since 2006. “I have been fortunate to have always worked within my field of study since college,” she says, “Not many people who studied art-related subjects can say that.”

She currently resides in Benzie County with her husband, Sean, and their daughter, Nicolette. Together, they take advantage of all Northern Michigan has to offer by cross-country and down hill skiing, hiking, camping, boating and water skiing.

Over the years, as her time allows, Christina has performed with several local ensembles including NMC Concert Band, Encore Winds, Benzie Area Symphony Orchestra, and the pit orchestra in Old Town Playhouse productions. These days, in addition to Manitou Winds, Christina performs with the Benzie Community Summer Band.
Jan Ross, reader & narrator

Jan Ross — Reader & Narrator

Jan grew up in downstate Royal Oak, and received her teaching degree from nearby Oakland University. For 25 years she worked in the Troy School District teaching high school English — a career she’s rightfully proud of. “My favorite memories of teaching my students were made while reading aloud to them,” she says. “I still find that big kids enjoy and benefit from being read to as much as the little ones do!”

Jan and her husband, Sam, moved to Lake Ann upon her retirement in 2008. The freedom of retirement allowed Jan to pursue her love of reading aloud by training to be a professional voiceover actor. This exciting training in reading for marketing and audio books gradually led her to pursue even more active performance opportunities.

In 2014, she auditioned for the Glen Arbor Players, discovering something she hadn’t realized: “I’m a big ham. I just love performing!” she says. Owing to the exposure from her performances with GAP, she was invited to join Manitou Winds onstage as a guest reader in 2017. Following a wonderful season of collaborating with our founder to come up with inspiring readings for concert programs, she was thrilled to be invited to become a full member of the ensemble in 2018.

Over the years, Jan and her husband have fostered untold numbers of cats for the Humane Society. Now in northern Michigan, they volunteer and have continued fostering cats and kittens for the AC PAW rescue group.

When she’s not performing readings or herding kittens, Jan performs with the Leelanau Summer Singers in Glen Arbor and the NMC Grand Traverse Chorale and volunteers her time for Interlochen Public Radio pledge drives and Red Dirt Road. Retirement has been a busy, fulfilling time for Jan — she highly recommends it to everyone!

MW & the Willow

Photos by Karin Willman of A la Carte Photography.