Our Conductors

Jeff Edmons, Music Director
Chamber Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra, Wind Orchestra

Jeff Edmons is now in his twentieth year with SDYS. Under his direction, the Youth Symphony has experienced tremendous growth, both in enrollment and in its level of musical achievement. Performing the most difficult works in the classical repertoire, SDYS achieves the highest standard attainable by a youth orchestra. SDYS’ exemplary standards of skill and musicianship have afforded it the opportunity to participate in the most prestigious international festivals and perform with eminent guest artists and musicians from around the world. Under Mr. Edmons’ direction, the Youth Symphony boasts a strong international presence and sets a benchmark for excellence in the United States.

San Diego Magazine named Jeff Edmons as one of “50 People to Watch in 1997.” Mr. Edmons has been featured in articles and journals honoring his work and has been the subject of documentaries on CNN, Fox Television, National Public Radio, and more. Mr. Edmons has led youth, collegiate, and professional orchestras in critically acclaimed performances throughout the United States as well as in Mexico, Spain, France, Germany, Austria, Finland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Switzerland. He is frequently invited to judge and guest conduct local and regional orchestras and bands. He has received numerous local and national invitations and awards for his achievements in music education.

He studied violin performance with Michael Davis, former Concertmaster of the Scottish National Orchestra, string pedagogy with renowned pedagogue Dr. Robert Gillespie, and wind, brass, and percussion pedagogy and wind ensemble conducting with Craig Kirchoff, Principal Guest Conductor of the Tokyo Wind Orchestra and past President and Chair of the National College Band Director’s Association. Mr. Edmons has dedicated himself to promoting youth music and youth education.


Juan Cristóbal Palacios, Conductor
Sinfonia, Concert Orchestra, Wind Symphony 

Juan Cristóbal Palacios is a native of Caracas, Venezuela. He received his Master of Music in Conducting and Composition from Yale University and a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Boston University. In Venezuela he founded, managed, and conducted the Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil de Chacao. He also conducted the Chamber Orchestra of the Universidad Central de Venezuela, where he taught music history and music theory. Mr. Palacios has guest-conducted youth and professional orchestras in Venezuela, Brazil and the U.S. As President of the Chacao Cultural Foundation he produced exhibits and events including traditional arts and urban street art, music, and community theater. Since 2006, Mr. Palacios has been Principal of JCP Cultural Advisory, a group of professionals that helps organizations create, improve, develop, and implement cultural programs.


Adam Pezdek, Conductor
Concert Winds 

Adam Pezdek, a San Diego native, is a diverse instrumentalist, conductor, arranger, and composer. He spent 22 years in the United States Marine Corps as a Marine Musician and performed on trombone, piano, and as a conductor throughout the country and in Canada, Japan, Germany, Kuwait, and Australia. He has arranged over 300 pieces for Marine Corps Bands, scored music for the 2009 Presidential Inauguration and created arrangements for Aretha Franklin, Ryan Anthony, Bones Apart, and the San Diego Concert Band. From 2006-2009 Mr. Pezdek was a field show adjudicator for Youth Education in the Arts and the West Coast Musician Placement Director for the Marine Corps Music Program where he auditioned prospective applicants for Marine Corps Bands.

In 2013 he served as the worship leader at Jamul Community Church. He received his Bachelor of Music from Thomas Edison State College in Trenton, New Jersey, and is pursuing a Master of Arts in Teaching from Point Loma Nazarene University here in San Diego. In addition to leading SDYS’ Concert Winds, Mr. Pezdek is the Opus Wind Conductor for SDYS’ Community Opus Program in Chula Vista. He also works as a freelance arranger and musician and performs locally as an instrumentalist, arranger, and assistant conductor in the San Diego Concert Band.


Ulli Reiner, Conductor
Symphonic Strings 

Ulli Reiner is the Artistic Director and co-founder of the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra of San Diego, Suzuki School. She is also the former conductor and co-founder of the Civic Youth Orchestra. Ms. Reiner is an adjunct faculty member of Palomar College; Concertmaster and orchestra manager of the Palomar College Symphony Orchestra; founder, orchestra manager, and Concertmaster of the Poway Community Symphony Orchestra; Conductor of the Poway Community Symphonette; and orchestra director with the Poway Unified School District. Ms. Reiner performs regularly as a violin soloist with the Palomar Symphony, Poway Symphony, Poway Community Symphonette, and with the Maryland University Symphony Orchestra in St. Louis, Missouri. Ms. Reiner’s ensembles are asked to perform in international festivals around the globe. She traveled to perform at the Vienna Advent Festival with the Poway Symphonette in 2014.


Anthony Do-Hoon Kim, Conductor
Overture Strings, Debut Strings Classes 

Originally from Seoul, South Korea, Anthony Do-Hoon Kim is a versatile musician who has performed throughout North America as a pianist, violinist, and conductor. He served as Music Director of the Michigan Pops Orchestra and was founder and Music Director of the Dead Composers Society Orchestra at UC Santa Barbara. He also served on the conducting staff with the Thousand Oaks Philharmonic, University of Michigan Orchestras, UC Santa Barbara Symphony Orchestra, South Coast Reading Orchestra, and Santa Barbara Youth Symphony. He has pursued conducting studies at the Pierre Monteux School and performed in master classes for artists including Leon Fleisher, Gustav Meier, and the Juilliard String Quartet. As a featured performer, he has given live radio performances and led numerous world premieres of works by living composers. He is a recipient of multiple career grants from the Léni Fé Bland Foundation and has won first prize awards in piano from the Music Teachers National Association and Saddleback Symphony Young Artist competitions. Mr. Kim was awarded a Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Michigan where he studied under Kenneth Kiesler. He also holds both a Bachelor and Master of Music in Piano Performance from UC Santa Barbara, where he was a student of Charles Asche.


Chris Lea, Conductor
Overture Winds

Born into a musical family, Chris Lea began his musical training in third grade and has studied piano, saxophones, flute, voice, percussion, jazz, classical, composing/arranging, and education. In the early 2000s he completed his teaching credential and Master of Music degree in flute performance from SDSU.  Since 2000 he has taught instrumental music for the San Diego Unified School District, and for the last six years he has taught band, orchestra, and jazz at Clark Middle School in City Heights.  Chris and his two siblings, Thomas and Elizabeth, are all alumni of SDYS! 

Through the years Chris has performed hundreds of events with a number of local San Diego bands.  He has also performed with many national acts and several musical legends, including actor/Columbia Records recording artist Terrence Howard, American soul diva Nikka Costa, British soul artist James Morrison, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, George Clinton, Diana Ross, and Tom Jones. His television appearances include The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The David Letterman Show, The View, The Today Show, and Ellen. Although he has performed extensively in popular music circles, Chris remains passionate and dedicated to the artistry of flute performance and educating young musicians in the San Diego community.