The Atholton High School Music Department has a long history of musical excellence and artistry since the school opened in 1966. The department serves over 300 students through both performance-based and non-performance-based classes. Included in the curriculum are three concert bands, three choirs, and three orchestras as well as classes in piano, theory, and music technology. In addition to the curricular classes, various extra-curricular ensembles and clubs are offered.
Director of Bands
Eric Posner is in his 15th year as the Atholton High School Director of Bands. Under his direction the Atholton Band program was awarded the 2014 National Band Association Eastern Division Program of Excellence Blue Ribbon. The Atholton Wind Ensemble has twice been invited to the Music for All National Festival in Indianapolis and has also performed at the Maryland Music Educators Association Conference. Eric is the recipient of the 2021 Howard County Arts Council “HOWIE” Outstanding Arts Educator Award.
From 2003-2006 Eric was the Band and Orchestra teacher at Bellows Spring Elementary School where he grew the program from 75 to 200 students. At BSES the students worked with composer-in-residence Brian Balmages, artist-in-residence Lynn Klock, and co-commissioned a work by composer Roland Barrett.
Outside Atholton Eric has been active with the Maryland Music Educators Association and has presented at conferences in Maryland and Massachusetts. In 2019-2020 he organized the first annual Music for All Mid-Atlantic Regional Concert Band Festival at the University of Maryland and continues to serve as the coordinator. From 2020-2021 he was the Operations Manager for Young Artists of America (YAA) Summer Performing Arts Intensive and prior to YAA was a staff member for 13 years at the George N. Parks Drum Major Academy.
In 2008 Eric served as the Assistant Producer for the University of Kansas Wind Ensemble’s CD, “Wild Nights!” released on the NAXOS label. In 2010 he served in the same capacity for their CD presenting the works of Morton Gould, “Derivations,” and in 2012 worked on their CD entitled “Landscapes” featuring works by Copland, Torke, and Ticheli.
Eric received a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, a Master of Music in Wind Band Conducting from the University of Kansas and is a member of both the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and the National Band Association.
Director of Choirs
Carolyn Freel has a diverse teaching background and incorporates a variety of tools and techniques in her classroom to engage all learners. She earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education, Voice from The Hartt School of Music in West Hartford, Connecticut. Upon graduation she began her career as a middle school choir director. She also won the position as Manager and Director of the Connecticut Children’s Chorus whom she took on a European tour.
Ms. Freel then moved back to Maryland where she taught at Hammond High School for six years. During this time, Carolyn served as HCPSS High School G/T Director, High School Vocal Music Team Leader and varsity field hockey head coach. Her ensembles consistently earned superior ratings while on their yearly tours up and down the East Coast and earned straight ones at the Maryland State Choral Festival. Her efforts at Hammond earned her Howard County Music Teacher of the Year in 2017.
Ms. Freel is excited to be at Atholton after completing her Masters Degree in Choral Conducting and two years teaching secondary choir in Oregon. She is eager to bring her her experiences back to Howard County and to the phenomenal music community at Atholton. In addition to teaching choir, Ms. Freel has done extensive work in the area of Musical Theater. She enjoys doing yoga, tending to her house plants, and snuggling her pup.
Director of Orchestras
James Woomert is the Director of Orchestras and Music Technology at Atholton High School in Columbia, Maryland. Prior to arriving at Atholton, James served as Associate Director of Orchestras at the nationally recognized Carmel High School Orchestra Program in Carmel, Indiana. Originally from Toronto, Canada, James moved to Indiana to study at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where he completed a Bachelor of Music in Viola Performance and a Master of Science in Music Education. While attending IU, James studied string pedagogy with Dr. Brenda Brenner and Mimi Zweig and was a member of the founding staff of the Fairview Violin Project, a pilot musical outreach program providing violin instruction to at-risk elementary school students. As well as conducting and coaching various southern Indiana youth wind and string ensembles, James also taught music introduction and methods courses at Indiana University as an Associate Instructor.
In addition to his classroom and private studio teaching, James has been a freelance violist in the Indianapolis area, performed as a member of the Owensboro (KY) Symphony Orchestra from 2008-2012, toured with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, and was selected to participate in three summer seasons with the National Academy Orchestra. James has also held leadership positions in the orchestras of Indiana University, performed with almost every regional orchestra in Indiana, and enjoyed the opportunity to work with such renowned musicians as Leonard Slatkin, Sir Andrew Davis, Jaime Laredo, and Joshua Bell. Orchestras under James' direction have recently had the honor of been selected as featured performing ensembles at the Maryland Music Educators Association State Conference, and the Midwest Clinic International Band and Orchestra Conference. James has served on the faculties of the Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestra and the L.A. Philharmonic’s National Take a Stand Festival. In 2018, James received the Outstanding Music Educator award from the Maryland Music Educators Association. James is currently Co-Director of the Howard County High School Gifted and Talented Orchestra and is a contributing editor for Teaching Music Through Performance in Orchestra, Volume 4, which will be published by GIA Publications in 2019.
James’ principal teachers and musical mentors include Kent Teeple of the Toronto Symphony, Yuval Gotlibovich, formerly of Indiana University, and Soo Han of the Carmel High School Performing Arts Department.