Orchestra Festival Faculty
Michael Palmer has long been considered one of this country’s finest conductors. In addition to appearances in the United States, he has also appeared in Europe as a guest conductor in Austria and Poland, where his performances have brought him critical acclaim. Mr. Palmer began his career at age 21 when he came to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra as assistant conductor at the invitation of Robert Shaw. He was soon made associate conductor, and also founded and was music director of the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra. While in Atlanta, Michael Palmer was honored as one of five of the first conductors in the United States chosen by the National Endowment for the Arts to be Exxon Arts Endowment Conductor, and he was soon in demand with orchestras throughout the country. While continuing in his post in Atlanta, he was appointed guest conductor of the Houston Symphony Orchestra for a three-year period. He also worked extensively with the National Symphony Orchestra during this period, and he was, subsequently, named co-principal guest conductor of the Denver Symphony Orchestra.
After 10 years in Atlanta as associate conductor, Mr. Palmer accepted the appointment as music director of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra. Throughout his 13-year tenure, he developed the Orchestra to a high artistic level. Following his tenure in Wichita, Michael Palmer became music director of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra. In New Haven, he was recognized widely for his artistic accomplishments and for building the Orchestra to one of the finest of its kind in the nation.
In 1993, Michael Palmer became artistic director of the Bellingham Festival of Music. Under his artistic leadership, the Festival has become internationally recognized for its artistry. Festival concerts are heard across the nation on NPR and feature some of the finest orchestral musicians and major guest artists from the United States and abroad. He is also the artistic director of the Quartz Mountain Music Festival’s orchestral institute.
Michael Palmer has served as guest conductor for many orchestras throughout the United States, including the Rochester Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Kansas City Philharmonic, San Diego Symphony and many others. In 1991, Mr. Palmer founded the American Sinfonietta, which toured Europe for 10 seasons under his leadership, playing to critical acclaim in the major concert halls of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
His recordings include an all-Mendelssohn disc for Summit Records and the Five Beethoven Piano Concerti with pianist Garrick Ohlsson on the Natural Soundfields label. Mr. Palmer may also be heard with the Rochester Philharmonic on the New World label.
Mr. Palmer joined the Georgia State University School of Music faculty as director of orchestras in August 2004, after serving in the same capacity at Wichita State University. In 2006, he was appointed as the Charles Thomas Wurm Distinguished Professor of Orchestral Studies.
Raised in Atlanta amongst a family of musicians and teachers, Ginny Respess Fairchild began playing violin and piano at the age of 3. She received degrees in music performance from Indiana University and the Cleveland Institute of Music. She has participated in many festivals across the US and Asia, including the Crested Butte Music Festival and Aspen Music Festival. Currently, she spends her summers at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in Santa Cruz. From 2008-2016 Ginny was a member of The Florida Orchestra, St. Petersburg Opera, and concertmaster of the Tampa Bay Symphony. This past year she returned to Atlanta and joined the Atlanta Opera.
When she is not performing Ginny very much enjoys teaching; she has been on the faculty of Mercer University, Agnes Scott College, and the Patel Conservatory of Music, and in addition, she always maintains a private teaching studio in her home. Ginny lives in Atlanta with her husband David—the band director at Lakeside High School in Dekalb County, two children, two cats, and a dog named Daisy.
Kenneth Lambert's passion for the violin started just before his 3rd birthday when he first picked up the family fiddle. Ever since then, he has barely set it down. Raised in a small town in Mendocino County, California, Kenneth was heavily influenced by his musical family. His passion and talent for performing was quickly recognized by the musicians and teachers in his community and he remains to this day an active member of his hometown music scene.
Kenneth Lambert is based in Atlanta, Ga, where skill as a classical violinist is known throughout the region and he is also in high demand in the pop, country, and Bluegrass genres. Kenneth enjoys performing and touring with The Whiskey Gentry and Smokey's Farmland Band and has recorded with Collective Soul, Bryan Gibson, Shotgun Symphony, and many others. Kenneth is a frequent guest performer at the Historic Everett Music Barn in Suwannee where he plays traditional bluegrass in an authentic setting. As an orchestral musician, he has shared the stage with Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, Robin Thicke, Marc Anthony, Wynonna Judd, Casting Crowns, and countless others. In 2012 Kenneth took first prize at the Georgia State Championship traditional fiddling contest and was awarded the title, Georgia Mountain Fiddle King. He also holds full-time positions as first violinist with the Savannah Philharmonic (GA) and Greenville Symphony Orchestra (SC) and is a frequent substitute violinist with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
Violinist Ronda Respess has been recognized for her active role in the Atlanta Symphony’s outreach programs by being awarded the UPS Community Service Chair. She worked on the Outreach Taskforce that started and ran the Symphony outreach programs for twelve years. Deeply committed to education, she teaches privately, gives master classes, coaches chamber music, coaches the violins of the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra, and for many years taught for the ASO Talent Development Program. In 2014 she was appointed as the musician representative on the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors and presently sits on the education committee. In cooperation with WGTV and the ASO, she filmed a teaching video called “Instrumental Success”. Ronda is also the Artistic Director of Franklin Pond Chamber Music, a year-around chamber music program for talented young musicians, that she founded in 2000.
In 2007 Ronda received the Loridans Arts Award given in honor of her work with Franklin Pond and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. As a former teaching affiliate at Emory University, she has performed in several chamber music concerts there and around the city. She also served as Principal Second Violin of the Atlanta Opera for eight years.
A New Jersey native, Ronda took lessons from Samuel Applebaum and went on to study with Sally Thomas and Ivan Galamian in New York. She received her Bachelor of Music in violin performance from Indiana University as a student of Daniel Guilet and Josef Gingold. She studied chamber music with Janos Starker and William Primrose at Indiana University, and Walter Trampler and Josef Silverstein at the Sarasota Music Festival. After winning a position with the ASO, she continued her study in Florida with Richard Burgin and did graduate work toward a Masters in Music Education at Georgia State University. She is the mother of Virginia Respess, a professional violinist, and the adopted mother to two dogs.