Guo Hua Xia, Juneau Student Symphony Conductor

Guohua XiaGuo Hua Xia is a classically trained violinist with decades of string teaching experience. Throughout the years, he has brought the gift of music to hundreds of students of all ages.

A violinist with the Juneau Symphony, he received his Bachelor of Arts in music performance from the Shanghai Conservatory, and a Masters of Music from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Xia is a key figure in Juneau’s musical community. He has taught many of Juneau’s best string students and has been teaching with the Juneau Alaska Music Matters (JAMM) program since its inception. He is the musical director for multiple Juneau string ensembles and frequently collaborates with other community music organizations, including Juneau Jazz and Classics and the Juneau School District.

In 2014, Mr. Xia received the Mayors Award for Visionary Application of the Arts. The Juneau Empire described him this way: “Guo Hua Xia has been teaching young violinists in Juneau for 17 years, ….  inspiring our youngest students to take pride in their abilities, to strive to achieve. He continues his private instruction, building a cadre of talented young string players who now perform with the Juneau Symphony, who are continuing their studies in music, and who represent Juneau proudly. Over the years, he has taken two groups of students on tour of China, and is preparing to take a third group this coming summer, using music to provide bridges between countries. A talented violinist himself, he truly can hear the future in our children.”

Teresa Bleakley, Project Coordinator

Teresa BleakleyTeresa moved to Juneau right out of college with the intention of only staying for a year. Fast forward 23 years, during which time she gained a husband and had a daughter, and it looks like she’s here to stay. Teresa has dabbled in many occupational fields from government to education to finance. She finally decided what she likes best is being a wife and a mom and thankfully she has a husband that supports that choice, in more ways than one. Teresa’s own musical pursuits started with the violin in elementary school and the clarinet in the middle school, eventually morphing into choral and small ensemble singing in high school and college. Working for the Juneau Symphony has allowed Teresa to immerse herself in the local musical community and enabled her to utilize her organizational skills in her role has Project Coordinator.  When she isn’t working, Teresa keeps busy transporting daughter Reece to various athletic and musical activities, volunteering with multiple organizations, including the Gastineau Humane Society and Girl Scouts of Juneau, and fulfilling her life-long dream of learning how to play the piano.

Bruce Simonson, Production Manager and Choral Conductor

Bruce SimonsonBruce Simonson moved to Alaska in 1981, and has lived in Juneau since 1988. He studied conducting under Helmuth Rilling (at the Oregon Bach Festival and in Stuttgart, Germany), and Renaissance polyphony and performance with Peter Philips and the Tallis Scholars in Seattle.

Bruce’s lifelong love of music, and a sincere belief in music’s ability to build community, has motivated him to form, lead and perform in amateur choruses and orchestras wherever he has lived. His passion for the music of the Baroque, and particularly the music of J S Bach, led to the formation of the Juneau Bach Society. This ensemble celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2014.

Bruce is grateful to the community of Juneau and its wonderful people, and for their support of the arts and quality of life. And he is especially grateful for his family for their inspiration, imagination, creativity and love of what is good, beautiful, and true.

Hetty Barthel, Librarian

hettyHetty Barthel has lived in Juneau since 1980 — with thirteen years in Washington, D.C. in the mix. She received her Masters in Library Science from the University of Maryland. She worked in Juneau as a public librarian at Juneau Public Libraries, continuing presently at Egan Library (Adjunct). Today she considers herself an “audacious” violist in the Juneau Symphony, and considers it an honor to be playing.