Elizabeth Lyon-Ballay, Artistic Director/violin, began studying music when she was three years old. Ms. Lyon-Ballay is concertmaster of the Fort Smith Symphony and the Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra, and performs regularly with the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas. She has previously served as the Artistic Director for Mariachi Orgullo de América, and as a first violinist with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic. Elizabeth Lyon graduated summa cum laude from the University of Oklahoma with degrees in music and English literature. She maintains a private violin/viola teaching studio in Bella Vista, and composes most of the original repertoire for Storybook Strings.
Jim Loyd, Narrator, is a native of Bentonville and a graduate of the University of Central Arkansas, where he founded and directed the vocal group, "A Cappella Mafia." Mr. Loyd teaches music and choir at Helen Tyson Middle School, directs the University of Arkansas a cappella group, "Lone Voices," and sings with the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas. He has performed as a soloist with the Arts Center of the Ozarks, the Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Rogers Little Theater. Mr. Loyd collaborates with Storybook Strings to bring drama and life to musical performances of children's literature.
Benji Wilson, cello/bass, is currently an orchestra teacher with the Bentonville Public Schools and maintains a private teaching studio in northwest Arkansas. Before moving to Bentonville, Mr. Wilson taught orchestra in grades 3-12 in the public schools of Oxford, MS and St. Louis, MO, where his students consistently earned high ratings in state and regional competitions. Mr. Wilson has performed as a bassist with Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Fort Smith Symphony, Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Ohio Light Opera, St. Louis Philharmonic, and Tupelo (MS) Symphony.
Johann Acuña, violin/piano, is the associate worship pastor/arranger for Cross Church in northwest Arkansas. Mr. Acuña received a Bachelor of Music Degree from Baylor University, where he served as concertmaster for the Baylor Symphony Orchestra. Johann has performed with the Arkansas Philharmonic, Ft. Smith Symphony, San Angelo Symphony, Symphony of Northwest Arkansas (SoNA), Temple Symphony, and Waco Symphony orchestras. His music has taken him across the world, including performances in Alaska, New York City (Carnegie Hall), California, Austria, Italy, Mexico, and Ukraine.
Brandon Patterson, double bass, is a founding member of The Crumbs as well as a bassist with the Fort Smith Symphony. He began teaching low brass and marching with the Magic of Orlando Drum and Bugle Corps in 1996. Mr. Patterson's diverse musical interests have also provided him opportunities to share the stage with the likes of Victor Wooten, Clark Terry, John Pizzarelli, John Metzger, and Don Bailey. Mr. Patterson maintains a private teaching studio in Ft. Smith, where he enjoys all of Arkansas' great outdoor activities and writes songs about his hometown's history.
Krista Mays, viola, is the Choir Director/Organist at All Saints' Episcopal Church in Bentonville, and an orchestra director in the Bentonville Public School District. Originally from Denver, Colorado, Ms. Mays earned a Bachelor of Arts in music, summa cum laude, from William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri, and a Masters Degree from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a University Fellow. She is a certified Musikgarten early childhood music and movement educator, and regularly appears as a violist with the Fort Smith Symphony and the Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra.
Kathy Murray, viola, teaches music theory and musicianship at Missouri State University. She currently is a member of the Fort Smith and Springfield Symphonies, and of the Springfield-Drury Civic Orchestra. She holds degrees in Music Theory and Composition from Loyola University of New Orleans and the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. A self-described orchestra fanatic, Ms. Murray has performed symphonic music with orchestras in Nebraska (Heartland Philharmonic), Iowa (Sioux City Symphony), Texas (Midland/Odessa, San Angelo, and Big Spring Symphonies) as well as in Missouri and Arkansas.
Jenny Castillo, violin, owns and directs Casa Castillo, a Spanish-language immersion school and Suzuki music program in Bentonville, where she previously served as an orchestra director for Bentonville Public Schools. Ms. Castillo studied Music Education at Brigham Young University and completed her degree in Early Childhood Education at John Brown University. As a soprano, Ms. Castillo has performed with the Singers of the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas and has served as section leader for the Ozark Mormon Chorale. She currently directs the Andante group of the Ozark Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.