Conductor Biographies

Amber PetersonDr. Amber Dahlen Peterson, is an Assistant Professor of Music, the Mazie Barnett Kilmer Chair for Strings Education, and Co-Chair of the Music Department at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas. Through this position, she conducts the South Kansas Symphony, coaches the Williams String Quartet, and teaches violin, viola, music education, history, and theory courses. She previously taught music appreciation and music theory at Carl Sandburg College in Illinois, online graduate music education courses for University of Florida and Kent State University, and the laboratory orchestra at Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Peterson completed her Ph.D. in Music Education, with a cognate in Music Cognition and Psychology, at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. She also holds music education degrees from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She completed the Suzuki Violin Teacher Training program at the Cleveland Institute of Music and has earned additional graduate credit at The Ohio State University and University of Iowa. Some of her influential teachers include William Bauer, Lisa Huisman Koops, Kathleen Horvath, Lisa Boyko, Deborah Dakin, and Nobuyoshi Yasuda. Dr. Peterson has performed with many semi-professional and community symphonies, pit orchestras, and chamber ensembles throughout Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, and Ohio. Most recently, she appeared with the Delano Chamber Orchestra in Wichita. Prior to beginning her doctorate, Dr. Peterson taught orchestra in Moline, Illinois, teaching at the elementary, middle and high school levels. She has also served on the staffs of the Cole Family Summer Music Festival, Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, Illinois Summer Youth Music, Illinois Ambassadors of Music, and the Cleveland Music School Settlement. She has held leadership positions in the Illinois Music Education Association and American String Teachers Association. Dr. Peterson’s research has primarily focused on music teacher education and music cognition. Her work has appeared in American String Teacher, Contributions to Music Education, and Arts Education Policy Review. She has presented sessions for state music education conferences in Ohio, Iowa, Illinois and Kansas, as well national conferences of the American String Teachers Association, the American Educational Research Association, the Symposium on Music Teacher Education, and the National Association for Music Education. 

Aidan Wells is a sophomore at Southwestern College, studying piano performance. He was the Senior Division winner for last season’s South Kansas Symphony Concerto Competition. Aidan is heavily involved as a collaborative pianist at Southwestern and in the surrounding region. Additionally, he has worked with a small committee to guide the promotion of the Cole Family Summer Music Festival. Aidan was a recipient of the Music Teachers’ National Association Collegiate Enrichment Grant, providing him with the opportunity to attend the MTNA National Conference in Baltimore. He is an active member in various other ensembles outside of piano, such as A Cappella Choir, SC Percussion ensembles, Southwestern College Choral Union, and Jazz Band. Beyond piano, Aidan is currently studying cello, marimba, and organ, as well as applied composition. He can regularly be heard playing piano and organ at the First Presbyterian Church in Winfield. 

Ismail FaridIsmail “Ish” Farid, Southwestern College Youth Symphony Executive Director Originally from Singapore, Ish and his family immigrated to the USA in July, 2000 and settled in Winfield, December 2002. A professional musician and entertainer since he was 20, Ish started playing the piano since the age of six and was trained under the London Royal School of Music program. At 16, he taught himself jazz and pop. After active duty with the Singapore Armed Forces, Ish launched his music career. He started as a restaurant pianist, then moved on to perform with jazz combos, lounge and show bands. During his professional career, Ish also coordinated holiday shows with hotels and accompanied and performed with singers from different parts of the world. Ish completed his professional degree with the Trinity College London, earning him the LTCL title. He is currently the Assistant Director of Orchestras with USD 465, Winfield, and Executive Director for the Southwestern College Youth Symphony. He teaches Jazz & Pop piano, improvisation and orchestral strings. Besides doing gigs with his daughter, Ish composes and does arrangements for string ensembles.

Linda Newby, Programs Manager, is a fourth grade teacher for USD 465 in Winfield. She enjoys reading and attending athletic events. Linda joined the orchestra, band, and choir on Southwestern College’s 2008 trip to Italy, and became close to many musicians. Her current role as Programs Manager for the symphony is to organize, plan, and help with the Golden Circle and other events. Linda is also a member of the Symphony’s Advisory Board. This is her seventh season as manager.

South Kansas Symphony Advisory Board

  • Rae Lynn Baker
  • John Baker
  • Diana Williams
  • Pam Taylor
  • Linda Newby
  • Eva Farid
  • Amber Peterson

Office Staff

  • Kristin Porter – Southwestern College Faculty Assistant for Performing Arts
  • Linda Newby – South Kansas Symphony Programs Manager
  • Dylan Moore – RPAC Events Management Intern
  • Ashton Humbert – South Kansas Symphony Student Librarian; 
    Southwestern College Youth Symphony String Assistant
  • Eva Farid – Southwestern College Youth Symphony Stage Manager; 
    Southwestern College Youth Symphony String Assistant 
  • Quenton Todd - Southwestern College Youth Symphony Percussion Assistant
  • Brandon Pew – South Kansas Symphony Stage Manager
  • Jessica Arnoldy- Southwestern College Youth Symphony Student Librarian

Contact Information

Snail Mail: SKS, Kristin Porter, 100 College St., Winfield, KS 67156

Phone: (620) 221-7720

Email: Amber Peterson —

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