About SMART


The San Marcos Artists’ Retention and Training Orchestra (SMART) is dedicated to the enhanced appreciation and understanding of orchestral music in San Marcos and its surrounding communities. This is accomplished by providing an opportunity for developing musicians to perform and learn in a full symphony orchestra as well as through a free, community concert series, various educational outreach opportunities, as well as instructor and internship programs. The orchestra was built upon the idea that we need to retain the talent we have and we need to train them to become better musicians, and that’s exactly what it’s done over the past 8 years.

The SMART Orchestra is designed to be an outlet for every individual interested in the study and performance of orchestral music and we encourage participants to contribute their time, talent, and skill to better serve the orchestra’s mission. Whether you are a member of our audience, performing in the SMART viola section or serving on the SMART Board, your enthusiasm and curiosity are welcome in an environment of acceptance and growth.


Executive Directors


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Christopher T. F. Hanson

Artistic Director

Conductor, violinist, composer, pedagogue, and musicologist, Hanson enjoys working with a large and eclectic group of ensembles in the state of Texas and abroad. Hanson holds three Masters Degrees from Texas State University in Music History, Music Theory, and Music Composition. He is currently working on his PhD in School Improvement at Texas State University, with a focus on teacher and student agency; as well as, a Masters in Applied Philosophy and Ethics, with a focus on the transformative powers of fine arts education . As a violinist and composer Hanson has premiered several works in multiple genres and serves as the chief arranger and first violinist of the Sacred Ensemble with Dr. Shana Mashego. Hanson works as the Orchestra Director for San Marcos High School in San Marcos CISD. He is the founder and artistic director of the SMART Orchestra, a community-based orchestra created to encourage string education, established in the city of San Marcos in 2009. Hanson currently resides in Kyle, Texas with his wife Erin, and his two children Emily and Graham.

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AmyLou Cox

Executive Director

AmyLou Cox has been studying the violin since age 6. Mrs. Cox learned through the Suzuki method with William Dick and later with Dr. Laurie Scott at Southwestern University. While earning a Bachelor of Arts degree Mrs. Cox served as concertmaster of the university orchestra for four years and won the solo concerto competition twice, graduating in 2001. Mrs. Cox also holds a Master's degree in Music Education from the University of Texas at Brownsville and a Master's in Music and Human Learning from the University of Texas at Austin. In her spare time, Mrs. Cox enjoys traveling and has visited over 30 countries with her husband, Dr. Cody Cox.


Board of Directors


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Denise Wayne Damron

President

Denise Wayne Damron graduated with highest honors from Texas State University with a Bachelor of Music Education degree (All-Level Certification). She has taught piano, flute and voice to students of all ages since 1980 in her studio as well as in public, private and homeschool settings. Along with her husband and professional drummer, Bruce Wayne, she co-owns the award-winning “Best of Hays” music lesson studio in San Marcos, Music Retreat at Willow Creek, which offers private instruction for orchestral strings, woodwind, brass, percussion, guitar, voice and piano students. She currently serves as choral director for both Gemischter Chor Harmonie and Christ Presbyterian Church, and as music teacher and associate band director at Cross Lutheran School in New Braunfels. She has worked extensively coaching instrumental and choral students in multiple school districts in central Texas in preparation for UIL Solo & Ensemble and NATS and has accompanied them on piano at contest and in concert. Ms. Wayne-Damron has performed live at Carnegie Hall, on German National Radio, and in concerts across Spain, Germany and the United States and is a solo pianist, flutist and vocalist for weddings and other special events. She also enjoys moving to music in the fitness classes she leads.

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Shiree Kirby

Vice President of Membership

Shiree Kirby has performed with the SMART orchestra, as well as served on the board, for four seasons. Shiree is currently serving as the Vice President of Membership, a role she was excited to step into. She began playing the violin at age 4 and is currently a private violin teacher in the New Braunfels area, where she lives with her 4 children. In her lessons, Shiree enjoys sharing her love of the violin with her students who range in age from 4 to 72. She is passionate about music and bringing the joys and wonders of music to others. Whether they are an audience member, a student, one of her own kids or a fellow musician, Shiree strives to enrich the lives of others by encouraging them to share her love of music.

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Cynthia Ramirez

Vice President of Community Relations

Photo and Bio coming soon!

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Erin E. Hanson

Secretary

Erin E. Hanson is a classically trained mezzo-soprano who regularly performs recitals and appears with companies such as the National Music Festival and Austin Opera. She brings years of non-profit administrative experience and true passion for the arts to SMART Orchestra. Hanson received her Master of Music degree from Texas State University, where she studied Voice Performance and performed principal roles with Texas State Opera. Hanson is a staunch advocate of arts education and community arts initiatives, working collaboratively with multiple arts organizations in San Marcos and the Texas Hill Country.

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Karen Granados

Treasurer

Karen started with the organization as a board member several seasons ago. While she doesn’t play any instruments, she absolutely love classical music, as does her daughter who has played the violin in the SMART orchestra. Karen resides in Lockhart with her significant other and two daughters. She works full time at an advertising company in Austin, and in her off time she enjoys spending time with my family, reading and working with veterans and other organizations within the community.

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Cody Cox

Member-at-Large

Photo and Bio coming soon!

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Paula Stiles

Member-at-Large

Photo and Bio coming soon!

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D'Ann Hart

Member-at-Large

This will be D'Ann's third year with the SMART Orchestra. She plays the viola as well as manages the website. D'Ann started playing the viola as an adult and loves that the SMART Orchestra gives her a place to continue to learn and play her instrument. She lives in New Braunfels with her husband, Royce, and daughters, Emily and Elizabeth.


Open Positions


Interested in working with SMART?

Please send your resume and a letter of interest to AmyLou Cox.