Music Faculty and Staff

Dr. Ellen Weller :

Dr. Ellen Weller

Dr. Ellen Weller joined the Palomar Performing Arts Department in 2005, where she teaches classes in music theory, ear-training, music literature, and directs the Palomar Symphony Orchestra.  She earned her B.A. and M.A. in Music Composition from Queens College of the City University of New York, and completed her PhD studies at UCSD.  She has studied conducting with Peter Jaffe, Donald Portnoy, David Chase, Martin Canellakis, Harvey Sollberger, and Kenneth Bell.  She was an invited Fellow at the 2012 Conductors Institute of South Carolina, and recently appeared as guest conductor with the Poway Symphonette.

A pianist and multi-winds performer, Weller has two CDs on the Circumvention label: “Spirits, Little Dreams and Improvisations (2004)” and “Point of Contact (2008).”  Her compositions include works for solo piano, flute, voice, and chamber ensembles, some exploring improvisation and graphic notation, and have been performed in New York, Detroit, San Diego and Los Angeles.  Recent works include “Prior’s Waltz” for orchestra, “1918: for two pianos and community,” incidental music to “Angels in America,” “Pine Apple Rag” for piano soloist and orchestra, and an arrangement of “Bei Mir Bist Du Shein” for orchestra and Klezmer ensemble.


Contact Information

Email: Phone: 760.744.1150 ext. 3949
Kenneth Bell :

Kenneth Bell

Kenneth Bell, Conductor of the Palomar/Pacific Coast Concert Band, has been directing the band of over 70 instrumentalists at Palomar since 2009, having presented about 35 dramatic wind and percussion concerts in the Brubeck Theater since then.  He was rehearsal conductor, French Horn Instructor, Test Development Specialist and occasional Drum Major at the Armed Forces School of Music 1966-1969.  He performed over 80 leading opera roles through the Americas and Italy, performing with the New York City Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, San Francisco Spring Opera, and the Spoleto Festival in Italy.

The Basso-Cantante, Conductor, Actor, and Narrator, has also performed with the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center, Musica Sacra, New England Bach Festival Abbey Singers, Waverly Consort, and San Diego Symphony.  He currently directs the Concert Band at Palomar College, leads the gospel chorus “Through the Storm”, and serves as Assistant Conductor to the La Jolla Symphony Chorus.



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Dr. John Russell :

Dr. John Russell

Dr. John Russell is the Director of Choral and Vocal Studies at Palomar College, and the Music Director of the San Diego Master Chorale.  In addition, he serves on the summer conducting faculty at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey and maintains an active professional career as a tenor soloist recently performing with the San Diego Symphony, La Jolla Symphony and Los Angeles Master Chorale.

Prior to his work in California, Dr. Russell was the principal choral conductor at the LaGuardia School of Music & Art and Performing Arts (the Fame School) in New York City. At LaGuardia he was the assistant chairperson of the Music Department, conductor of the symphonic chorus and voice instructor for the school’s advanced vocalists. While in New York he conducted in over twenty performances with the world-renowned Orchestra of St. Luke’s, served as a clinician for the New York Philharmonic’s Education Department, and was a guest conductor with New York City National Chorale.

Dr. Russell is a native of Kalamazoo, Michigan and is a graduate of Western Michigan University and Columbia University. He received his Doctorate of Musical Arts in Choral Music from the University of Southern California. His primary conducting mentors are Craig Arnold, Joe Miller and Jo-Michael Scheibe and he has studied voice with William Appel, Curt Peterson, Jeanne Gof -Fynn and Gary Glaze.



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Dr. Madelyn Byrne :

Dr. Madelyn Byrne

Madelyn Byrne is a Professor of Music at Palomar College where she has been on the faculty since 2000.  She is an active composer of both acoustic and computer music.  Some recent pieces include The Decorah Eagle Violin Concerto (composed for Ulli Reiner and the Palomar Symphony Orchestra), In A Winter Landscape (for bass flute and computer, commissioned and recorded by Peter Sheridan for MOVE Records), Arrival (computer music with video art by Lily Glass, recorded to DVD for Everglade Records), and Northern Flight (for piano and computer, recorded by Peter Gach for Innova Records).

Madelyn’s music has been presented in a variety of venues in Europe, Asia, Australia and North America.  Some recent performances include The New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival, The Society of Composers, Inc. (National Conference), The International Computer Music Conference, The Australasian Computer Music Conference, College Music Society, and Electronic Music Midwest among others.

Madelyn completed her DMA in Composition at The Graduate Center in 1999.   Her composition teachers include Charles Dodge, John Corigliano, and David Olan.  The compositions for her dissertation were done while she was a guest composer at Columbia University’s Computer Music Center.


Contact Information

Email: Phone: 760.744.1150 ext. 2809
Paul Kurokawa :

Paul Kurokawa

Paul Kurokawa is enjoying his eighth year at Palomar College after having taught at Grossmont, Saddleback, and Mt. San Jacinto Colleges. In addition to his teaching, Paul enjoys a varied performing career – both locally and internationally. He’s been a performer in Southern California for four decades, and has given concerts as an instrumentalist and vocalist in France, England, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg, Italy, Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Israel, and Honduras, as well as the United States. He has also had the pleasure of performing in Carnegie Hall in New York City. Accomplished on both brass and woodwind instruments, Paul plays all saxophones, flugelhorn, trumpet, and piccolo trumpet.


Paul Kurokawa

760.744.1150 ext. 2322

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Rita Walther : Administrative Department Assistant

Rita Walther

Administrative Department Assistant

Contact Information

Email: Phone: 760-744-1150 ext 2440
Paul Helling : Administrative Departmental Assistant

Paul Helling

Administrative Departmental Assistant

Contact Information

Email: Phone: 760 744 1150 ext 2302