About Starlight Symphony Orchestra

The Starlight Symphony Orchestra is a nonprofit orchestra comprised of all volunteer musicians of wildly varying ages and reside in a variety of nearby hill country communities. The Starlight Symphony concerts are always free and open to the public.

The orchestra members enjoy performing both classical and pop music and rehearse diligently to present exceptional concerts. A solo competition for students is held each year, inviting top students to perform and compete for music scholarships. The Starlight Symphony also works in conjunction with hill country school districts to augment their music curriculums with mentoring programs and music appreciation programs in each school.

The Starlight Symphony Orchestra is a non-profit organization supported by donations

Our History

The Starlight Symphony Orchestra began in early 2002 as an idea of Wimberley resident and clarinetist Dick Kinas. A long time member of The Wimberley Players theater organization, Kinas was considering expanding the Wimberley Players dream of building a new playhouse to include creating a performing arts center for the surrounding community. He figured an orchestra would be a good way to head down that path of expansion, and soon, he was talking with Jenny Benedict, Pat Surguy, and Jeri Ross, who had all also been thinking about establishing a string orchestra in the Central Texas area.

After enlisting the aid of Dan Stephens, the Minister of Music at Wimberley’s First Baptist Church, to serve as the Music Director and Conductor, these stalwart organizers submitted a proposal to the Wimberley Players board to form a music committee that would act separately from the Wimberley Players in directing the activities of the soon-to-be-formed Starlight Symphony Orchestra. This standing committee would operate under the umbrella of the Wimberley Players, making the orchestra an affiliated nonprofit group and a future resident of the planned performing arts center—the Wimberley Playhouse.

The Starlight Symphony Orchestra made its debut on April 28, 2003, in a special performance for the students of Scudder Elementary School in Wimberley High School’s Lone Star Theater. In the enthusiastically received interactive program, the orchestra played excerpts from the orchestral repertoire, and then members of the orchestra gave students a close-up look at their instruments, explaining the instruments’ histories and demonstrating their sounds.

The first formal programs for the public were then presented in Wimberley on May 1, 2003 with a program repeat in Dripping Springs on May 16 in the United Methodist Church. Works included Beethoven’s Egmont Overture, Mozart’s Eine Kleine Natchtmusik, R. Vaughan Williams’ English Folk Songs Suite, and others.

Although the dream of a performing arts center in conjunction with the Wimberley Playhouse was not to be realized, the Starlight Symphony Orchestra and the Wimberley Players continue to mutually support one another, and upon occasion, members of each group perform together on the same stage. The rest, as they say, is history—the Starlight Symphony Orchestra’s short but proud history.


Our Mission & Vision

  • Provide Central Texas musicians with a cultural and social gathering opportunity where players can meet and work together.
  • Provide Central Texas communities with entertainment by high-quality musicians and social events at which like-minded people can assemble.
  • Provide opportunities for Central Texas students to play with an orchestra, giving them the experiences of working with a conductor, learning a part, playing with a full complement of instruments, understanding orchestral literature, and performing for the community.
  • Educate Central Texas student populations about orchestra such as with performances and interactive presentations introducing them to the instruments, players, and music. Preserve the heritage of instrumental music from historical literature to contemporary compositions.
  • Associate with other performing arts organizations in the Central Texas area.
  • Establish a group which, by its organizational and operational structures, fosters a spirit of cooperation and goodwill among its members and ensures long-term existence.


Dr. David Oertel

Music Director

David Oertel is Music Director and Conductor of the Starlight Symphony Orchestra and the Austin Philharmonic both located in central Texas. He has directed a variety of ensembles including theatre and opera orchestras and choruses, community bands and orchestras as well as small ensembles, jazz ensembles and silent film orchestras. Oertel has also guest conducted orchestras in Houston, TX, Greensboro, NC, Austin, TX, St. Petersburg, Russia and Zlin, Czech Republic. Oertel has taught at High Point University (NC), North Carolina A&T University and University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Oertel was Music Director of the Lee County Orchestra in North Carolina for thirteen seasons and was celebrated with that orchestras 25th Anniversary season in October 2013.

Oertel has won or been a finalist for several years of The American Prize:

  • 2020-2021 Contest – Winner 2nd place for the 2019-2020 season
  • 2019-2020 Contest – Winner 3rd place for the 2017-2018 season
  • 2018-2019 Contest – Winner 1st place for the 2016-2017 season
  • 2017-2018 Contest – Semi-Finalist for the 2015-2016 season
  • 2016-2017 Contest – Finalist for the 2014-2015 season

He is also a co-author for the 6th edition of the standard reference book, Daniels’ Orchestral Music due in 2022, and is co-author of Choral-Orchestral Repertoire: A Conductor’s Guide, Omnibus Edition (2019).

Oertel holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro as well as a Masters degree in Applied Performance from the University of Houston. His undergraduate degree, in Music Education, is from the University of North Texas. Oertel has served as conductor and music director for over 30 musical theatre and opera productions including Don Giovanni, Street Scene, Sweeney Todd, Chicago, West Side Story, Grease, Jesus Christ Superstar, Bat Boy, and Seussical the Musical.

Oertel has studied with many conducting luminaries including Robert Linder, David Daniels, Max Rudolf, Kirk Trevor, Samuel Jones, Hans Graf, Niklaus Wyss, Adrian Gnam, Franz Krager, Serge Zehnacher and David Holley.


Player Roster

Concertmaster: Jacob Simmons

*Denotes Principal

Violin I

*Jacob Simmons

Devora Gleiber

Jerry Niemiec

Mason Tyler

Matthew Velasquez

Noriko Evans

Suzanne Warmack

Violin II

* Pat Surguy

Fidencio Solis

Liz Watts

Nancy Gary

Rosario Davis

Ruth Ellen Warrick


*David Jarrott

Diana Riley

Kristle Gomez

Mari MacAskill

Savana Miller

Susan Thurber


* Todd Sloan

Alex Nghiem

Ana Roe

Graham Miller

Lauren Groves

Shauna Herzog


* Andrew Rogers

Alex Boffa


* Deanna Harrison

Lisa Gross

Luellyn Dollard

Amanda Noble


* Faith Cuminato

Joanna Millinor

English Horn

 Faith Cuminato


* Ruth Ann Tanton

Nancy Inglish

Bass Clarinet

Karen Walters

Sharon Kojzarek


* Joseph Nutt

Dyanne Cortez

Judith Salas

Contra Bassoon

Whitney Lee

French Horn

* DJ Castillejo

Indigo Curington

Ginger Dickson

John Prickett

Michelle Winn


* Randy Heaton

Eric Bittner


* Matthew Lawrence

Neal Mallard

Jonathan Mudge


* Chris Higbie


*Adam Miller

Collin Boes

Dan Stephens

Jim Trussell


*Sheila Lamb

Board of Directors

Faith Cuminato – President
Ruth Cude – Vice President
Susan Thurber – Past President
Liz Watts – Secretary
Ariana Pettigrew – Treasurer
Jacob Simmons – Concertmaster
Deanna Harrison – Facilities Coordinator
Todd Sloan – Young Artist Coordinator
Suzanne Warmack – Advertising Placement Coordinator
Kristle Gomez – At Large
David Jarrott – At Large
Dr. David Oertel – Conductor and Music Director
Key Volunteer
Pat Surguy – Music Librarian


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