Artistic Staff


Symphony Orchestra Director
Ken Marrs –

Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Ken Marrs began studying the double bass with Derek Weller and Stuart Sankey.  He received a bachelor’s of music education in choral and instrumental music from Indiana University where he studied bass with Bruce Bransby and Lawrence Hurst.  Ken has performed with the Ann Arbor, Flint, Saginaw Bay, Toledo, and Tucson Symphony Orchestras, the Arizona Opera Company as well as with True Concord, formerly the Tucson Chamber Artists.  He received his master’s in choral conducting under Maurice Skones at the University of Arizona.  Ken has taught music and performed with orchestras on four continents, and currently teaches orchestra and guitar at Sahuaro High School in Tucson.


Chamber Orchestra Director
Whitney Olson,

Whitney Olson is excited to be a part of Vail Youth Symphony’s inaugural season!  Mrs. Olson grew up in Mesa, Arizona, where she began piano lessons at age 8 and violin lessons at age 9.  She developed a love of orchestral playing while under the direction of Mesa directors Richard Chelpka and Rob Nichols.  She attended Northern Arizona University, earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education-Instrumental.  While at NAU, Mrs. Olson also earned Suzuki Teacher Training Certification for violin books 1-5.  She was taught under the direction of Dr. Louise Scott, Dr. Susan Baer, and Jacquelyn Schwandt.

Mrs. Olson completed her studies in Gilbert, working with Amber Dudley and Laura Reed at Mesquite Junior High and High Schools.  From there, she taught elementary general music and orchestra in the Amphitheater School District in Tucson, AZ.  She then came to Vail and taught at Sycamore Elementary School, starting their orchestra program, for three years.  Mrs. Olson currently runs a private studio of violin, viola, and piano students.

Mrs. Olson has been a violinist for NAU Symphony, Flagstaff Symphony, U of A Philharmonic Orchestra, and currently performs with the Sierra Vista Symphony.  She loves working with children and sharing her passion for orchestral playing.  She also enjoys spending quality time with her family and playing music for her infant son.

String Orchestra Director
Lisa Brown,

Lisa Brown, originally from Troy, MI, has been living and working in Tucson, AZ since 2008. She earned a Masters in Music in Double Bass performance at Pennsylvania State University and a Bachelors of Music in Bass Performance from Butler University. Her bass teachers include David Murray, Gary Karr, Rob Nairn, and Stephen Molina. She is currently the general music and orchestra teacher at Agua Caliente Elementary in the Tanque Verde School District.  Lisa plays regularly with Sierra Vista Symphony. Lisa is the International Society of Bassists Social Media Manager as well as Bi-Annual Convention Volunteer Organizer. Outside of music, Lisa enjoys running, cooking, reading, and spending time with her husband, Daniel, and their two dogs, Cookie and Peanut.