Our Director and Conductors

Gerald Fowkes, Music Director and Conductor

Gerald Fowkes is currently Director of Orchestras at Fairfax High School and the newly appointed Music Director and Conductor of the McLean Youth Orchestra.  Prior to his tenure at Fairfax he taught in Prince William County Schools where his orchestras consistently received Superior ratings at District Orchestra Assessment and national festivals throughout the Eastern Seaboard.  As a former member of the artistic staff of the Youth Orchestras of Prince William, Mr. Fowkes was the conductor of the Concert Orchestra from 2005-2016.  In the summer of 2016 he joined the artist faculty as the orchestra director of the Greater Washington Suzuki Institute. He has had the distinct honor of conducting All-County Orchestras in Albemarle, Fauquier, Loudoun, Prince William, Spotsylvania, and Stafford Counties and the 2014 VBODA District X Senior Honor Orchestra and 2016 VBODA South East Regional Chamber Orchestra.  In addition, he is a frequent guest conductor at the JMU Spring String Thing and regularly serves as an adjudicator for various VBODA district orchestra assessments throughout the Commonwealth.

Mr. Fowkes is a 2001 graduate of Louisiana State University where he graduated summa cum laude in Cello Performance.  His former teachers and mentors include Dennis Parker, Loran Stephenson, Wesley Baldwin and Pamela Frame.  In addition, he has studied conducting with Jindong Cai, Michael Butterman and Donald Peterson and participated in master classes with cellists Gary Hoffman, Aldo Parisot, Erling Blöndal Bengtsson, and Paul Katz, amongst others.  A product of Prince William County Schools, he is an alumnus of both the Youth Orchestras of Prince William and the American Youth Philharmonic and a past Virginia Governor’s Scholar at the National Music Camp at Interlochen, Michigan. A former member of the Baton Rouge Symphony, he performs frequently as a freelance cellist throughout the Baltimore/Washington metro area having performed with the Virginia, Fairfax, and McLean Orchestras amongst others.

A Prince William County resident, Mr. Fowkes was selected as the 2014 Dale City Civic Association Teacher of the Year and a past nominee for the Washington Post’s Agnes Meyer Award.  He maintains a private cello studio at his home where he resides with his wife, Becky, daughters, Scout, Ellie, and Mason, and son, Isaak.


Veronica Jackson, MYO Repertory Ensemble Conductor

After graduating from W. G. Enloe High School (Raleigh,North Carolina) in 1985, Ms. Jackson studied violin at the University of Miami (Coral Gables) with Dr. Marla Meutschler (Paul Rolland protégé) and Dr. Earl Sanders at North Carolina Central University (NCCU). After graduating summa cum laude from NCCU, she began teaching orchestra in Wake County Schools elementary, middle, and high schools in Raleigh, North Carolina. Ms. Jackson moved to Richmond in 1994 and began teaching in Henrico County, where she worked for 17 years at several schools including Byrd Middle School, Godwin High School, Freeman High School, and Tucker High School. In Henrico County, she coordinated the Strings Discovery Program designed to introduce stringed instruments to rising 6th graders. Ms. Jackson’s orchestras are known for outstanding performances throughout the county. Recently, her high school orchestras performed at the Virginia Music Educators’ State Convention in Norfolk, VA. Her orchestras have also received superior ratings in national competitions in Chicago, New York, Toronto, and Boston. Locally, Ms. Jackson’s middle and high school orchestras consistently receive superior and excellent ratings in District Orchestra Assessments. Ms. Jackson’s students have received numerous individual awards and recognition for their performances. In August 2012, Ms. Jackson accepted the position of Orchestra Director at Francis Hammond Middle School in Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS). She continues to serve with her energetic style of teaching. The strings program at Hammond has doubled since she has been there. The Hammond Middle School orchestra students have received superior and excellent ratings at District Orchestra Assessments. March 2015, Hammond MS was the only school in the area to have four ensembles in the District X Orchestra Assessment – three received straight superior ratings and the fourth ensemble received an excellent rating. Coordinated by Ms. Jackson, the innovative and collaborative programming in the ACPS Strings Program has made a direct impact on the increase in the overall numbers in the District. Some of these programs are 7th and 8th Grade Honors Orchestra Event,  5th Grade Fiddle Fest, Electrify Your Strings featuring Mark Wood, ACPS Summer Band and Orchestra Camp, and LOWER STRINGS BOOST! also known as VIOLA, CELLO, BASS DAY.

Ms. Jackson has also participated in several conducting workshops with such names as Dr. William Jones of Iowa State University, Dr. Anthony Maiello of George Mason University, and Dr. Marvin Rabin. She has served as guest conductor and clinician for the Virginia’s Central Regional Orchestra Event, North Central Regional Orchestra Event, Southeastern Regional Orchestra Event, District XII Regional Orchestra Event, JMU’s Spring String Thing, Chesterfield County Schools All-County Orchestra, Richmond City Schools All-City Orchestra for three years, Newport News City Schools All-City Orchestra, Hanover County Schools High School All-County, Fauquier County Schools, Norfolk City Schools, and Spotsylvania County Schools All County Orchestra. She serves as the orchestra director for the Sinfonia Orchestra at Shenandoah Performing Arts Camp at Shenandoah University in Winchester, VA. Ms. Jackson has served as guest clinician and conductor for the Pitt County All County Fifth Grade Orchestra and Nash Rocky Mounty Public Schools in North Carolina for four years. Ms. Jackson also served three years as conductor for Richmond Symphony’s Youth Concert Orchestra, an intermediate full orchestra.

Ms. Jackson has adjudicated several orchestra festivals in North Carolina and throughout Virginia. In addition to her commitment to her students, Ms. Jackson was appointed director of the Rappahannock Youth Symphony Orchestra in Fredericksburg, Virginia in October 2008 where she served for five years.

In July 2012, Ms. Jackson was selected to participate in the Music Educators’ Conducting Workshop at The Julliard School. This week-long program was for the 30 music educators from around the country who were selected by their resume and video-audition. Ms. Jackson was a 2010 finalist for the R. E. B. Award for Teaching Excellence. Other affiliations include membership and past president of the Virginia Chapter of the American String Teachers’ Association, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Music Educators’ National Conference, and active membership at First Baptist Church of Glenarden in Landover, Maryland.

Ms. Jackson is lovingly supported by her husband Charles Dawkins and her two gems, Camille and Phillip.