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Cuyamaca College Performing Arts Department
Faculty & Staff        
Full-Time Faculty          
Taylor Smith

Chair of Performing Arts

Music Technology

Intro to the Music Industry

Music Industry Seminar

Director of RPSE





Office: Room B-315

Office Hours:

Mon    4:00 - 5:00 pm

Tue    11:00 - 12:00 pm    

Wed   9:30 - 10:30 am

Thu    11:00 - 12:00 pm

Fri      11:00 - 12:00 pm

Taylor Smith joined the Cuyamaca College faculty in 2008. He holds a BMA from BYU-Idaho, and an MA in Music (Historical Performance Practices emphasis) from Claremont Graduate University.  He frequently performs on double bass, viola da gamba, bass guitar, and as an electronic musician.  He is currently completing his doctoral dissertation for a PhD in Musicology from CGU.



Adjunct Faculty          
Joe Bigham

History of Rock Music


Jim Chatham

Theater Arts 

Jim is currently Adjunct Instructor for the Theatre Arts 110 course and has been teaching at Cuyamaca College for the past 6 years. Additionally, he is the full time Artistic Director for Granite Hills High School - and Youth Theatre Conservatory - He has directed and produced over 25 youth productions in the East County area, and many students have gone on to attend prestigious universities such as UCLA and Columbia. Three years ago, he was awarded "Rookie of the Year" by the San Diego County Office of Education for excellence in teaching Theatre Arts.

He currently partners with many local theaters providing expertise on internships and opportunities for students in the world of theatre. He is humbled to be an elected board member on the San Diego Theatre Educators Alliance, serving K-12 theatre arts educators. While studying and teaching all aspects of the theatre, Jim's passion is musical theatre. He is a local, professional actor having performed leading roles in: "Jesus Christ Superstar", "Miss Saigon", "Beauty and the Beast", and "tick…tick…boom" to name a few. Recently, he was seen in "8 The Play" with Richard Dreyfus and Lance Bass at the Birch North Park Theatre and as a vocalist with San Diego Musical Theatre's "White Christmas". When not performing, directing, teaching, or producing Jim is an avid golfer and a lover of the outdoors. Having travelled and performed in over 10 countries, San Diego is home!

Jim holds an undergraduate degree in English, a teaching credential, Master of Education in Cross-Cultural Education, and the Master of Arts degree in Theatre Arts. Above all, however, Jim has an extreme desire to see students experience theatre and learn the transformative power of the arts. He hopes to see you in class!"



Jonathan Davis

Class Guitar

Jonathan Davis began playing the electric guitar at the age of 13, and made the switch to classical at 17.  He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Classical Guitar Performance from the University of Arizona and his Master’s degree (also in Classical Guitar Performance) from the University of Akron, where he was awarded a full scholarship as a graduate teaching assistant.

Mr. Davis studied privately with Professors Thomas Patterson and Stephen Aron (at the Universities of Arizona and Akron, respectively) and in addition has performed in master classes for some of the most well known guitarists in the world, including Pepe Romero, David Russell, Paul Galbraith, Odair Assad, and others.

Jonathan Davis has experience performing classical music in a variety of settings, including solo, chamber, and as a member of an orchestra.  In addition, he has also played electric guitar in various rock bands.

His debut solo CD, Très Viste, features music ranging from the Baroque to the Twentieth Century.



Amy Hacker

Intro to World Music

History of Rock Music


John Mark Harris

Class Piano

Great Music Listening

John Mark Harris

Pianist John Mark Harris holds degrees in performance from the University of California, San Diego (D.M.A); the New England Conservatory (M.M); and the University of South Florida (B.M.). He plays an extensive range of keyboard music from the Renaissance to the present day. Harris has performed many premieres, and also plays the organ and harpsichord. In addition to teaching at Cuyamaca College, he also teaches at San Diego City College, and is the organist/pianist at St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church in Bay Park. Regarding his playing, The Boston Globe referred to his performance of works by Scott Joplin as “forceful…finely shaded”; the Edinburgh Scotsman called his recital at Reid Hall, featuring Charles Ives’ monumental Concord Sonata, a “stunning performance”; cited his “exquisite touch and sensitivity” in a performance of the music of Cage; and his performance Xenakis’ Evryali was hailed as “astonishing” by the 20th Century Music Journal.  




Martha Heminger

Class Piano

Great Music Listening

Ms. Martha Heminger has extensive experience teaching private and class piano to all ages and levels of adults and children and has been a faculty member of Cuyamaca College since 1997 where she currently teaches class piano and music appreciation.  She has also served as an instructor at San Diego State University, the Creative Arts Program at Bowling Green State University, the Community Music School at San Diego State University, and the Community Learning Program at Cuyamaca College.  She has been published in Keyboard Companion and is a member of the Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honor Society. 

Martha holds a Bachelor of Music Degree in Piano Performance from Bowling Green State University in Ohio as well as a Master of Arts in Music-Piano Pedagogy Degree from San Diego State University.  Ms. Heminger has performed in numerous recitals and master classes throughout her career, including a master class with Bruce Brubaker from the Julliard School of Music.  She has done extensive research on the subject of adult education, and applied it to adult group piano. She has also played the flute, been accompanist to numerous choirs and soloists, and has limited experience on guitar, organ, harpsichord, and recorder.



Esther Jordan

Class Voice

Performance Studies


Esther Jordan is a versatile singer, music educator and director who has performed various styles of music, from early music, opera, gospel, blues to light rock.   She graduated from Grand Canyon University in Arizona with a B.A. in Vocal Performance and Music Education and earned her M.A. from San Diego State University.  She has taught and directed in Arizona and California public and private schools, community theaters and churches.  Esther has toured with performing groups in the United States and Europe.  From 1994-1997 she lived in Japan where she conducted the Yokosuka Choral Society, Hand Bell and Chapel Choirs and performed in recitals.  She also taught English in the Japanese public school system.  Esther’s past voice credits include soloist with the Phoenix Symphony Pops Concerts, featured artist with Theatre Organ Society of San Diego, soloist with San Diego Harmony Ringers and Camelot Strings.   Currently, Ms. Jordan is Director of Worship Arts at Pacific Beach Presbyterian Church and is president of the San Diego Chapter of  National Association of Church Musicians.    She has been adjunct voice instructor at Grossmont/Cuyamaca  Community College system since 1998 and is thrilled to be performing with Pat Setzer and Taylor Smith.    



Merryl Nelson

Choir Director

Great Music Listening

Merryl Nelson

Merryl Nelson has directed choirs of all ages for thirty-eight years in public and private schools as well as churches. She was choral director at Granite Hills High School in El Cajon for nineteen years (1993-2012), where she built a thriving program consisting of 190 students in five choirs. Throughout her tenure, the Granite Hills Honor Choir and Chamber Chorale consistently won superior ratings at local, regional, and national festivals and toured throughout the United States and Europe. Merryl also served as chair of the Performing Arts Department and was an active member of the Visual & Performing Arts Strategic Plan Committee for Grossmont Union High School District. In the fall of 2010, Merryl joined the faculty of Cuyamaca College where she conducted the choir for four years, taught Music Theory, Ear Training, Sight Singing, Introduction to Music, and now teaches Great Music Listening. Merryl holds the Bachelor of Music degree in Organ Performance from the University of Redlands and the Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from San Diego State University. She has taken additional course work at the Eastman School of Music, Butler University, University of California San Diego, Fresno State University, and Grossmont College.



Warren Torns

Concert Band Director 

Warren Torns is a native of New York where he completed his undergraduate studies at Columbia University. He holds a Master Degree from Long Island University with a major in Music Education. Mr. Torns taught conducting and orchestra at the University of San Diego before coming to Cuyamaca College. He studied trumpet under Paul Willemen and William Vacchiano and learned conducting skills under Robert Dolan, Frederick Fennell, Lawrence Christianson and Thomas Lee. He was recently awarded the Legion of Honor by the John Philip Sousa Foundation and was named as one of "50 Directors who Make a Difference" by School Band and Orchestra Magazine. Recent honors include being named a Claus Nobel Educator of Distinction, recognized as an Outstanding Teacher by the University of California, San Diego, and named the Music Educator of the Year by CMEA. His musicianship, constant demand for perfection, and his dedication to his students make him a highly respected teacher and conductor.



Scott Walton

History of Jazz

History of Rock Music

Scott Walton

Scott Walton is a bassist and pianist whose music negotiates the terrain between jazz, free improvisation, and the classical avant-garde. Active in a variety of ensembles, current projects include the collective quartet Cosmologic, ad hoc ensembles with electronics magician Tim Perkis, and with percussionist Garth Powell, a quartet with trombonist Michael Vllatkovich, a duo with lutinest Gilbert Isbin, and a trio with dancer Ellen Webb and singer Cecilia Engelhart. As a bassist, he has performed and recorded with Alex and Nels Cline, George Lewis, Myra Melford, Wadada Leo Smith, John Carter, Vinny Golia, and Clifford Jordan, among many others. His pianistic focus is on Ives, Cowell, and Messiaen. He has premiered works by numerous composers, and has collaborated with poets, dancers, performance artists, filmmakers, multimedia and telematic artists. Walton is featured on recent CD releases by Alex Cline (“multifaceted, multi-stylistic and multicultural” - All About Jazz,  one of great discs of this or any year” - Downtown Music Gallery,  “a fully realized artistic statement” - All Music Guide), and by Cosmologic (“truly fascinating upper echelon progressive jazz music” – All Music Guide,  “a stirring listening experience…West Coast jazz at its most heartfelt and adventurous” - All About Jazz).


Department Staff          
Pat Setzer

Currently serving as Dean of Division II


 Pat Setzer


Pat Setzer studied classical guitar and music history in Philadelphia, at the University of the Arts and at Temple University. His musical interests and performing experience range from early music to world music to pop: to paraphrase Will Rogers, he has never met a music he didn't like. Pat has taught at Cuyamaca College since 1996.



revised: 082211 by cw


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