the greater north texas youth orchestra is the youth division of the odysseus chamber orchestra.
Jason Lim: Artistic Director and Conductor, Young Artist Orchestra
Recognized by the Denton-Record Chronicle as one of “2012’s Most Fascinating People,” the career of conductor Jason Lim is on the rise. Lim was born in Penang, Malaysia and began his formal training in viola performance when he won a scholarship to study at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts with Alice Waten. He commenced his studies at the Canberra (Australia) School of Music, and completed his bachelor’s degree with honors at the Australian Institute of Music in Sydney. Jason received his Master’s degree in orchestral conducting from the University of North Texas.
Known for his fine technique in performances and innovative programming, Jason began his conducting studies in Australia: first as an apprentice with the Canberra Youth Orchestra, and later as an Assistant Conductor with the Ku Ring Gai Philharmonic Orchestra in Sydney, a position that was awarded in conjunction with winning 1st Prize in the New South Wales Ministry of Arts Conducting Prize. Most recently, Jason won 1st prize in the 2021 The American Prize—Vytautas Marijosius Memorial Award in Orchestral Programming and in 2020, Jason was selected by the Texas Commission on the Arts into the Texas Touring Roster Inclusion. In 2016-2017 Jason was named 1st Prize Winner of the American Prize Competition for professional conductors. In 2015 Jason was the 2nd Prize Winner. Additionally, In 2016 Jason received the Ernst Bacon Memorial Award for excellence in performing American Music. In 2013 Jason made his European conducting debut with the Academic State Concert Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine in Kiev and in 2014 appeared as guest conductor with the Zabrze Philharmonic Orchestra in Poland and the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Jason has also appeared as guest conductor with the Abilene Philharmonic Orchestra and Johnstown Symphony Orchestras and has appeared as guest conductor with choruses around the globe. In addition, Jason's work extends to other art mediums such as visual arts and dance notably with collaborations with prominent dance choreographers like Bill Evans. Jason has also appeared as guest conductor of the Denton Bach Society and the American Baroque Opera Orchestra.
A champion of new music, Jason has conducted at conventions including SEAMUS Y2K (the acousma tex conference) and the North American Saxophone Alliance. In 2001, he was a guest conductor with the Composer’s Forum Orchestra which he conducted world premiere performances of aspiring young composers. In 2012 Jason commissioned the world premiere of BREATH by Brad Robin. During his tenure as Music Director of the NOVA Ensemble, Jason led the group in its first commercial recording in 2000 on the “Equilibrum” label. Jason conducted the world premiere performance of Brian Bavelander’s Distant Visions for orchestra and pre-recorded tape.
In 2010, Jason was among eight conductors selected to participate at the Ithaca International Conducting Workshop under the tutelage of Gustav Meier. Jason has also attended the Pierre Monteux School for Conductors in Maine. Jason remains an active performing violist, having performed with the Abilene Philharmonic Orchestra, Amarillo Symphony Orchestra, Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony of Malaysia, Australian National Opera Orchestra and Texas Baroque Ensemble. Jason was also a member of the University of North Texas Graduate String Quartet.
Jason is known for his commitment to community and a strong believer in education while dedicating his talents working with young musicians, and conducting orchestra workshops in Asia and the United States. He served as conductor and educator for 10 years with the Abilene Summer Music Festival in conjunction with Hardin Simmons University, the Pan American Music Festival in Edinburgh Texas, as well as the Penang State Orchestra Workshop in Penang, Malaysia and serves as Artistic Director of the Summer Music Intensives in McKinney, TX since 2015. Jason’s mentors include distinguished conductors: John Farrer, Nicholas Braithwaite, Henryk Pisarek and Max McBride. Jason currently also serves as Artistic Director of the Greater North Texas Youth Orchestra and is also Artistic Director of the Summer Music Intensives in McKinney, Texas.
Currently, Jason is the Artistic Director and conductor of the McKinney Philharmonic Orchestra a group he founded in 2012. In 2014 the orchestra was awarded second prize in the Professional Orchestra division of the American Prize Competition and third prize the previous year. Thanks to Jason’s commitment to education, the group pioneered a unique mentorship program that gives talented high school students the opportunity to perform side-by-side with professional musicians.
Kevin Garza, Director and Conductor, Symphony Orchestra
Kevin Garza is the Director of Orchestras at Williams High School in Plano ISD. He holds a B.M. in composition from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, and a M.M. in orchestral conducting from Southern Methodist University. He studied conducting with Paul Phillips as the Assistant Conductor of the Meadows Symphony Orchestra, trombone with Carl Lenthe, piano with Alfred Mouledous, and composition with Elliott Bark, Don Freund, and Aaron Travers.
As a conductor, Mr. Garza was selected to be a conducting fellow at the Pacific Northwest Conducting Institute in 2018. In the spring of 2021, Mr. Garza served as the Interim Conductor for the East Texas Youth Philharmonic Orchestra. In their 2023-2024 season, he joined the Greater North Texas Youth Orchestra as their new Symphony Orchestra conductor.
For three years, Mr. Garza was heavily involved with the New Albany High School Band Program, both as a teacher and composer. He was also active as a trombonist, performing as a member of the Louisville Winds and Brass Band of Louisville, the latter in which he performed as a soloist. Mr. Garza continued to teach low brass both in southern Indiana and later in Dallas, where for a few years he gave masterclasses and clinics to a handful of school districts in addition to maintaining a private lesson studio in Forney and Mesquite. He has also been a faculty member at the Rockwall School of Music.
In his current work at Williams, Mr. Garza conducts three string orchestras and a full symphony orchestra comprised of students with 4 to 5 years of experience. The orchestra program earned a sweepstakes at UIL Contest in 2022 and 2023 under his direction.
When not poring over scores or chattering on about Bach, Mr. Garza enjoys cooking, coffee, reading, and visiting friends and family.
Nikit Desai: Director and Conductor, Philharmonic Orchestra
Nikit P. Desai attended Texas Tech University to earn a bachelor’s degree in Music Education with a concentration of viola performance. He studied under Dr. Blair Williams for String Music Education and Dr. Kimberly Sparr for Viola Performance.He showcased his musical abilities through the TTU Symphony Orchestra, chamber ensembles, and solo recital performances. While there, he led viola and violin classes through the TTU String Project, which aimed to teach string instruments to students without string programs in their schools. He also co-taught a “parent orchestra” with adult beginner parents learning a string instrument alongside their own orchestra students.
After graduating from Texas Tech University, Mr. Desai taught at Centennial High School in FISD as the Associate Director from 2019-2021. While at Centennial HS, Mr. Desai led many of the ensembles, especially the younger groups, to Sweepstakes performances at UIL Adjudication. He then moved to Scoggins MS where his students have enjoyed the same level of success at UIL Adjudication. His musical selections frequently incorporate culturally relevant new pieces with standard school orchestra repertoire. Mr. Desai is currently expanding the Scoggins MS program to include higher foundational skills and repertoire for his students.
Mr. Desai remains active in performing on the viola with the McKinney Philharmonic. In his free time, Mr. Desai enjoys playing tennis, golf, and cooking for his friends and family members. He enjoys food of various cultures and is always looking to try new recipes and foods.
Dr. Will Pratt. Director of Winds and Brass
A native of Columbus, GA, Will Pratt is an active performer and instructor in the DFW area. In addition to playing principal trumpet with the McKinney Philharmonic, Will plays principal trumpet with the Sherman Symphony and second trumpet with the Abilene Philharmonic. Will has also performed with The Dallas Opera, Louisiana Philharmonic, Wichita Falls Symphony, Las Colinas Symphony, and Richardson Symphony Orchestras. Will is the Adjunct Instructor of Trumpet at Tarrant County College in Arlington, TX, and Austin College in Sherman, TX. Most recently, he served on the faculty for the inaugural North Texas Brass Week in Frisco, TX. Will maintains a large studio of middle and high school students in Frisco and Coppell Independent School Districts. His students have earned placements in the Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas all-state bands, and have been recognized as semi-finalists and quarter-finalists of the National Trumpet Competition solo divisions. Will holds a Bachelor of Music from Columbus State University, a Master of Music from Southeastern Louisiana University, and a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of North Texas. His hobbies include long-distance running and watching the Atlanta Braves.