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Professional Staff

Jon Henson - Interim Director of Athletic Bands

Jon Henson joined the School of Music in 2007. Along with his duties as an Assistant Director of Athletic Bands he also serves as the Co-Coordinator of the Commercial Music and Audio Production program. Jon teaches a variety of courses including Music Technology Methods, Post Production Audio for Film and Television, Live Sound Reinforcement, Audio Fundamentals, and Music Notation Software.

Mr. Henson has the pleasure of directing the Concert Band and is the director and arranger for The Catamount Singers and Electric Soul. An ensemble consisting of vocalist, horns, and a full rhythm section, the group is known for performing music from the 70's to today.

Some of his primary duties with the marching band are to instruct and arrange for the rhythm section and front ensemble. Jon also serves as the sound designer and manager of all aspects of the "Pride of the Mountains" electronics.

In 2009 the “Pride of the Mountains” was presented the Sudler Trophy, the highest award recognized by collegiate marching bands. The band has performed in the Tournament of Roses Parade (2011), as halftime entertainment for the Carolina Panthers (2011), the exhibition band at The Bands of America Southeast Regional in Atlanta, Georgia (2011), the Bands of America Grand National Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana (2012, 2015) and the 88th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City (2014) and (2019).

In 2009 Mr. Henson founded the Mountain Winds Community Band. This regional ensemble consists of members from surrounding counties and includes both adult and high school members. The ensemble has seen tremendous success and continues to grow through annual performances across the area.

Mr. Henson has been a guest presenter for many functions including the National Collegiate Athletic Band Symposium, the North Carolina Music Educators Annual Conference and also the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Conference. Jon has been a consultant for many articles referring to technology in the marching arts including “Halftime Magazine” and also the MENC magazine “Teaching Music”.

Outside of the School of Music Jon is a sought after percussion writer, adjudicator, and instructor for bands across the South East. He has taught in various public school music programs in Western North Carolina including North Buncombe High School and Tuscola High School. From 2008 through 2010 Jon served as an Assistant Director and front ensemble arranger of the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band. In 2013 and 2017 Jon served as a faculty member for the Honor Band of America in the Tournament of Roses Parade. He is the founder and owner of Mixed in Sound Design LLC and has completed many audio installations and sound designs for clients across the east coast. Jon is a member of MENC, PAS, CBDNA, and is a Vic Firth, Remo, and Zildjian Artist.

Jon graduated from Western Carolina University with his B.A. in Music Education (2005) and his M.A. in Music Education (2007). He is married to Nishelle Henson, a public school math teacher and lives in Sylva, NC.

Matt Henley-Assistant Director of Athletic Bands

Matt Henley is the Assistant Director of Athletic Bands at Western Carolina University, which includes assisting with the Sudler Trophy winning "Pride of the Mountains" marching band and the two "Cathouse Bands". One of Mr. Henley's primary duties is the Marching Percussion Program at WCU. This includes teaching and arranging for the marching ensemble. Matt earned both Bachelor's and Master's degrees in music from Western Carolina University, and has played with and instructed such groups as the Spirit of Atlanta Drum and Bugle Corps, the Limestone College Percussion Studio, the Tuscola High School Percussion Program, Showband Gifhorn, and the Carolina Crown Drum and Bugle Corps. His high school groups have performed at the Bands of America National Concert Band Festival, numerous North Carolina Days of Percussion, and have won the Open Class CIPA Percussion Championship along with many years of successful marching band high percussion awards.  He has served as the Chief Percussion Judge for the Carolina Indoor Performance Association, has adjudicated for numerous indoor percussion circuits, and has written for groups in Germany, Canada, Hawaii, and the Continental United States.  Mr. Henley was recently asked to write for and instruct the first two All-American Marching Bands in San Antonio, TX in 2008 and 2009. This group was promoted by MENC and the US Army. He was also nominated for the WCU Excellence in Teaching Award by the College of Fine and Performing Arts, and serves as the Recruiting Liaison for the School of Music and the Office of Admissions at Western.  Currently Matt serves on the National Percussive Arts Society Marching Committee, and in addition to his teaching duties, he composes, arranges, adjudicates, and is a prominent percussion clinician across the United States.  Mr. Henley is a member of CBDNA, MENC, IARP, PAS, and proudly supports products from Yamaha, Remo, Zildjian, and Vic Firth companies.  He resides with his wife Angie and son Landon in Clyde, NC.

Douglas Thrower is a free-lance composer/arranger/ trumpeter from Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.  He has been the arranger for the Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps from Canton, Ohio since 1997. He has instructed and arranged for many bands and drum corps including The Troopers, Dutch Boy, the Kiwanis Kavaliers and the Canadian Knights (1986 Class A World Champions). He currently composes and arranges for numerous high schools and universities. In addition to marching music he arranges for various ensembles, jazz and symphonic, as well as theater groups.

Doug studied with Don Johnson at Humber College in Toronto and studied jazz performance at McGill University in Montreal. He has recorded performances for the C.B.C. and can be heard on four recordings with the McGill Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Gordon Foote.

Doug, with his wife Evelyn Blackwell, have two daughters, Shelby and Claire.

Jamey Thompson, Visual Designer from Chicago, Illinois, has been involved in marching band and drum and bugle corps for over thirty years. “I’ve greatly respected David’s many contributions to the activity. To work with him and have to opportunity to design for the Pride of the Mountains Marching Band is a tremendous honor.”

Jamey was the Visual Designer for Phantom Regiment from 2005-2007 and 2011-2014; Madison Scouts from 2003-2004; and the Glassmen from 1997-2002.  He was recently named Visual Designer for Atlanta CV Drum & Bugle Corps from Atlanta, GA for the 2015 season and returns for his fifth season with three-time WAMSB Champion Calgary Stampede Showband, from Calgary, Canada. Previous DCA credits include Connecticut Hurricanes from 2008-2014 and Empire Statesmen from 2001-2006. Marching band projects include programs throughout the United States, including bands in Florida, Indiana and Texas.

Jamey graduated with a B.B.A. from Loyola University Chicago and worked in not-for-profit accounting and arts-management before dedicating his time exclusively to the pageantry arts.

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