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


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.


Stephanie Symmes

Executive Director

Bio coming soon!

Board of Directors


Denise Wayne Damron


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.


AmyLou Cox

Vice President of Membership

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.


D'Ann Hart

Vice President of Community Relations

This will be D'Ann's third year with the SMART Orchestra. She plays the viola as well as manages the SMART Orchestra 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.


Erin E. Hanson


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.


Karen Granados


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.


Paula Stiles


Photo and Bio coming soon!


Vacant - This could be you!


Looking for a place to serve, promote classical music, or just want to be a part of a great organization? We would love to have you as a Member-at-Large! Please contact us if you are interested.


Vacant - This could be you!


Looking for a place to serve, promote classical music, or just want to be a part of a great organization? We would love to have you as a Member-at-Large! Please contact us if you are interested.

Open Positions

SMART Orchestra seeks Artistic Director/Principal Conductor

The San Marcos Artist Retention and Training (SMART) Orchestra seeks an Artistic Director and principal conductor for its 2018-2019 season.

The role of Artistic Director will be open to qualified individuals who are interested in pursuing SMART’s mission by way of musical development or expansion. See SMART’s full mission and vision statements on this website.

The Artistic Director of SMART shall serve as the orchestra’s musical and creative representative and shall preside over all rehearsals and concerts, and facilitate meetings of SMART Instructors and/or Interns.

Duties and responsibilities include, but are not limited to, recruiting and auditioning all personnel for the orchestra, programming all public performances, securing a rehearsal and performance schedule for the season, supporting fundraising activities for the organization, and organizing creative collaborations with local arts organizations.

The Artistic Director must complete an Artistic Director Application form, including a copy of their most recent resume, and perform an interview with the current Artistic Director and Board President.

The Artistic Director will be recommended to the Board by the President of the Board and appointed only after a majority vote by the Board.

The Artistic Director will receive a stipend twice per Concert Season for an amount designated and approved by the Board of Directors before appointment. The current budgeted stipend is $3,000 per season.

The term of an Artistic Director is one (1) year with no limitation to the number of consecutive terms that any one Artistic Director may serve, as long as that Director meets all qualifications for the position and is elected by a majority vote of the Membership at the Annual Meeting.

Please email Christopher T.F. Hanson if interested and/or call at 832-866-8355.

Interested in the SMART Member-at-Large Positions?

We would love to have you on our team! Please send your resume and a letter of interest to Stephanie Symmes.