Our Conductors

Zeljko Milicevic Photo

Zeljko Milicevic – Symphony Orchestra

Zeljko Milicevic received his Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education and Violin Performance from Wayne State University and his Master of Music in Education from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. In 2007, he earned a Certificate in Orchestral Studies from Wayne State University with an emphasis in Conducting and Violin Performance.

A sought-after clinician and adjudicator, Milicevic began his service in public education in 1990 and has taught music to students at all grade levels. He has led orchestra programs in Royal Oak Neighborhood Schools, Utica Community Schools, and Farmington Public Schools and most recently served as Director of Orchestras and District String Coordinator, grades K-12 with the Oxford Community Schools. In addition, he has been on staff as Adjunct Professor of String Pedagogy at Oakland University in Rochester, MI since 2005.

A member of the Flint Symphony Orchestra since 1987, Milicevic was appointed to the position of Associate Concertmaster in 2011. His role as Concertmaster of the Bijou Orchestra, a select 13-member salon theatre orchestra located in Bay City, MI, has afforded him numerous memorable performances in the mid-Michigan area including the revival of silent movies set to live music, performing as soloist, and presenting period reviews in concert specializing in music from the 1920s, 30s and 40s. He has also performed in many of Michigan’s regional orchestras including the Michigan Opera Theatre, Saginaw-Bay Orchestra and The Midland Symphony Orchestra.

An avid chamber musician, his career has included engagements with numerous ensembles. Milicevic is currently a member of the Classic Impressions String Quartet comprised of principals of the Flint Symphony Orchestra. He is also a member of Ivybrooke Strings where he performs in a violin and piano duo. His most recent recording projects include a musical portrayal based on the book Einstein’s Dreams with the Bijou Theatre Orchestra, and the piano trios of Mendelssohn and Haydn recorded with the Ivybrooke Strings. As an outreach of the Flit Symphony Orchestra, he is a member of the Troubadours ensemble.

Milicevic has served as a guest conductor for the Bijou Theatre Orchestra, and the Detroit Medical Orchestra. Previously, he has directed the Lake St. Clair Symphony and Symphony of the Lakes. In 2014, he was appointed as Music Director and Conductor of the Rochester Symphony Orchestra. This year marks the beginning of his 24th season as Music Director and Senior Conductor with the Oakland Youth Orchestras.

Wendy Stuart – Philharmonia Orchestra

Ms. Stuart is excited to be part of the Oakland Youth Orchestras for her seventh season. She is currently in her eightteenth year of teaching for the Clarkston Community Schools, where she directs the Orchestras, grades seven through twelve. Prior to joining the music faculty in Clarkston, she spent a year beginning a new string program in a district east of Cincinnati, OH. While not currently teaching private lessons, she maintained an active cello studio for 24 years. She regularly serves as an adjudicator, clinician, and chamber music coach.

Ms. Stuart earned a Bachelor of Music Degree in Cello Performance from Eastern Michigan University and her teaching certification and Masters of Music in Music Education from the University of Michigan. Her cello teachers include Diane Winder, Anthony Elliott, and Robert deMaine. In addition to her degrees, she studied orchestral conducting while attending the ASTA International Workshops in Norway and France, where she worked with William LaRue Jones, Robert Culver and Marvin Rabin.

Ms. Stuart served three terms as Secretary for the Michigan Chapter of the American String Teacher Association and was the Director of the MASTA String Camp, Session III, for six years. She also was an Adjunct Professor of String Methods for four years at Concordia University in Ann Arbor.

Ms. Stuart maintains an active performance schedule in addition to teaching. She is the principal cellist for the Oakland Symphony Orchestra, a member of the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra and performs regularly with string ensembles and orchestras throughout southeast Michigan.

John Kennedy Photo

John Kennedy – String Orchestra

String Orchestra Director John Kennedy is excited to return for his sixteenth year with the Oakland Youth Orchestras. A 27-year veteran public school orchestra teacher, he teaches at Farmington North Farmington High School and Dunckel Middle School. Previously taught in Detroit, Chelsea and Iowa City, IA. In 2005, he was nominated for Orchestra Teacher of the Year for the state of Michigan.

In addition to his teaching and conducting, Mr. Kennedy is nationally recognized as a bassist, clinician and teacher of young string bassists. He is Past-President and member of the board of the International Society of Bassists, the largest worldwide organization dedicated to the upright bass. He is also a regular clinician at the Golden Gate Bass Camp, the Richard Davis Workshop in Madison, Wisconsin, the Michigan Bass Fest, the Oberlin Bass Workshop and the Milt Hinton Bass Workshop. Mr. Kennedy is Principal Bass of the Birmingham-Bloomfield Symphony Orchestra and a regular performer with many local and regional orchestras. He was formerly Associate Principal Bass of the Honolulu Symphony, and has performed with the Detroit, Ann Arbor, Flint, Toledo, Kalamazoo, New Mexico, and Cedar Rapids symphonies.

As a composer and arranger, John has written dozens of works, both arrangements and original compositions, for young bass ensembles and for youth orchestras. He holds his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in String Bass Performance from the University of Michigan.

Nick Karpinsky – Studio String Orchestra

Studio String Orchestra Director Nick Karpinsky is excited to return for his ninth year with the Oakland Youth Orchestras. Mr. Karpinsky graduated from Wayne State University in 2009 receiving a Bachelor’s degree in instrumental music education. He has studied with various violinists over the years including Geoffrey Applegate and Jim Waring. As a violinist, Nick performs with several community orchestras including the Macomb Symphony Orchestra and the Rochester Symphony Orchestra. He has also performed with artists including Il Divo, Mannheim Steamroller, Aretha Franklin, and Eddie Daniels at venues such as the Fox Theater, Orchestra Hall, DTE Energy Music Theater, and Joe Louis Arena.

In 2015, Nick received his Master’s Degree from Marygrove College in education with a focus in curriculum, assessment, and instruction. Entering his ninth year of teaching, Nick is currently Director of Orchestras at Mott High School in the Waterford School District.