Directors

Click Photos for Full Bio.

  • Matthew Porter

    Symphony Director
  • Brett Nelsen

    Symphony Co-Director
  • Ellen Lawrence

    Philharmonic Director
  • Sundas Mohi

    Philharmonic Co-Director

Matthew W. Porter

Symphony Director

Matthew W. Porter graduated cum laude from Texas Tech University School of Fine Arts with a Bachelor of Music leading to teacher certification. Mr. Porter studied cello with Dr. Alexander Ezerman and conducting with Mr. Gary Lewis. While pursuing his undergrad degree Mr. Porter spent two years apprenticing violin repair with the late Dr. George Robinson. He has performed with several professional orchestras in Texas & New Mexico including principal cellist of the Southwest Symphony of New Mexico.

In 2004, Mr. Porter was hired as the first orchestra director of the newly opened Beckendorff Junior High School in Katy, Texas. Under his direction the orchestra program grew from 64 to over 240 string players that consistently earned top honors and awards each year. A few of these awards include an invitation to perform at the 65th annual Midwest Clinic in Chicago and Texas Music Educator Association's 2012 JH/MS Honor Orchestra.

In 2006, Mr. and Mrs. Porter founded the annual Katy ISD Summer Orchestra Camp to provide enrichment opportunities for Katy ISD string students during the summer break. In 2013 Mr. Porter accepted a position opening the newest high school orchestra program in Katy ISD, Tompkins HS. In the school's first year Mr. Porter led his students to earn the first UIL sweepstakes awards and proudly continues that tradition for the orchestra program. He is an active freelance cellist, clinician and adjudicator around the state.

Other notable accomplishments include the TMEA Leadership & Achievement Award & the 2014 Houston Symphony Spec's Charitable Foundation Award for Excellence in Music Education. In addition to his teaching, Mr. Porter is a member TODA, TMEA, TMAA, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, and the honorary orchestra fraternity Mu Omicron. Mr. Porter currently resides in Katy, Texas with his wife Bryanna and their three blonde monsters Madeline, Kendall and Molly.

Brett Nelsen

Symphony Co-Director

Brett Nelsen is celebrating twenty one years in public school education and has been the Orchestra Director at Cinco Ranch High School since the school's inception during the fall of 1999. He has spent his entire career in Katy ISD and was previously the Orchestra Director at Beck Junior when that facility opened in 1997. From 1998-2005 he was affiliated with The Greater Houston Youth Orchestra, one of Houston's three youth orchestras, where he conducted the String Ensemble. From its inception, the program has grown from twenty four students in two grades to more than 140 students performing in seven major ensembles. Long established as one of the top orchestra programs in the Southwest United States, Cinco Ranch High School Orchestra has earned many coveted awards. They have been selected as Texas Music Educators Association Honor Orchestra Finalist eight times in the past thirteen years. They have been selected as the National Award Winner in the Director's Choice Foundation for Music Education Orchestras in 2008, 2009, 2012. They have consistently earned top prizes and have earned Outstanding Orchestra Awards in Festivals across Texas, Louisiana, and Florida. The orchestra program has consistently earned Sweepstakes awards in the Texas UiL annual Concert and Sight Reading Contests. Mr. Nelsen is sought after as leading clinician and presenter for various school, region, and collegiate classrooms and ensembles across Texas.

Mr. Nelsen has lived in the Houston area practically all his life and where he has also received all of his schooling. He just completed a Masters in Music Education under Dr. Jennifer Mishra and studied conducting with Franz Anton Krager at the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston. His undergraduate work was completed at Rice University where graduated with a degree in Music and Managerial Studies. When not in front of his ensemble, he is practicing with his family of cellists, his wife Barbara and his children Ethan and Elliott Grace.

Ellen Lawrence

Philharmonic Director

Ellen Lawrence has taught junior high orchestra for seven years and currently is the assistant orchestra director at Seven Lakes Junior High in Katy ISD. Previously, she taught for five years at TH Rogers School in Houston where she increased the size of the program from 80 students to more than 220. In 2014, the TH Rogers Chamber Orchestra was a Mark of Excellence Commended Winner for the Foundation for Music Education and consistently received Superior UIL ratings. Ms. Lawrence currently serves as TMEA Region 23 Orchestra Treasurer and Junior High Organizer.

Ms. Lawrence has an active private viola studio in Katy and also performs throughout the Houston area. Ms. Lawrence received her bachelor of music education from Arizona State University and her master of music in viola performance from the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. She and her husband Daniel enjoy spending their summers traveling and going camping.

Sundas Mohi

Philharmonic Co-Director