Mr. Chris Banks, Director
Mr. Banks is a native of Atlanta Georgia and enjoyed early formative experiences in Drum Corps, formal study in music education, and a promising freelance career. Mr. Banks moved to New York and attended The Juilliard School as a Gluck fellowship recipient where he earned a Performance Certificate in Bass Trombone under the tutelage of Mr. Joseph Alessi, Principal Trombone of the New York Philharmonic. In New York, Mr. Banks studied with more than a dozen Artists from The New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Boston Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Empire Brass Quintet, and American Brass Quintet. Performances include recordings and live engagements with the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony, St. Luke’s Orchestra, American Brass Quintet, Meridian Arts Ensemble, Brooklyn Symphony, to name a few. As a chamber musician, Mr. Banks was a member of the Equali Trombone Quartet and the Avalon Brass Quintet that won First Prize at the New York Brass Conference Chamber Music Competition. His professional career as a bass trombonist includes extended engagements with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony, and the Burning River Brass Ensemble.
Mr. Banks won an appointment with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra in South Carolina, where he performed and recorded with the Orchestra, including an acclaimed National Tour of “Porgy and Bess”, the CSO Brass Quintet, and gave featured solo performances as part of the renowned Spoleto Music Festival, USA. From 1994 to 2002 Mr. Banks held the Bass Trombone chair with the Jacksonville Symphony. During this time Mr. Banks served as an Applied Trombone Faculty member at the University of South Carolina for 4 years with a large applied studio, Trombone Ensemble, annual recitals, and studio class responsibilities.
Mr. Banks began teaching at LaVilla School of the Arts, in Jacksonville, Florida and accepted a full-time position in 2004. At LaVilla, Mr. Banks is fortunate to be one of the three instrumental music faculty, and works collaboratively with Mr. Tyler Dunn and Ms. Heather Davidson in every aspect of the program with specific responsibility for the Jazz, Chamber music, and Percussion programs. During his tenure Mr. Banks has established a full-time percussion ensemble class and a chamber music performance class. LaVilla host regular guest artist from the Jacksonville Symphony, various Universities including the University of North Florida, Florida State University, the Juilliard School, and an innovative partnership with Jacksonville University. LaVilla has also developed an on-going relationship with “Don’t Miss a Beat” a local organization that provides arts and academic instruction for students that might not otherwise have the opportunity. Some of the noteworthy recent LaVilla accomplishments include, being named a Florida model school for music 2016-2018, Numerous awards from the Arts School Network for innovation and excellence, a 2020 National Magnet School of Distinction by Magnet Schools of America, the Ashley Street Jazz Band performed at the famed 73rd Annual Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, and LaVilla was named a 2020 Blue Ribbon “Program of Excellence” by National Band Association (1 of only 4 Middle Schools ever to be so recognized)
Mr. Banks served as the Florida All-State Middle School Jazz Band coordinator from 2013-2016, and in numerous roles for FBA District 17. Mr. Banks is an active member of JEN, FBA, NafMe, FMEA and is a nationally ranked masters division Olympic Recurve Archer.
Mr. Tyler Dunn, Director
Mr. Dunn joined Lavilla School of the Arts in 2022. He is currently a conductor of the Symphonic and Jazz Bands and has previously co-taught the Wind Ensemble. He specializes in woodwind instruction.
Mr. Dunn holds a Bachelors of Music Education from Michigan State University where he majored in flute and minored in jazz (playing tenor saxophone). There he was a five-year member of the alto saxophone section of the Michigan State Marching Band. He was an active member of the flute studio under Professor Richard Sherman, and performed in various concert bands and jazz ensembles under the direction of Michael Dease, Etienne Charles and Rodney Whitaker. He also holds a Masters in Music Education from Florida State University.
Before joining Lavilla, Mr. Dunn was an Associate Band Director for seven years at Oakleaf Junior High School in Florida. There he was awarded the Linda Mann 5 Year Superior Award for Concert Band, and the 5 Year Superior Award for Jazz from the Florida Bandmasters Association.
Mr. Dunn is an active member of JEN, FBA, NafMe, FMEA and is a nationally ranked tennis player.
Ms. Heather Davidson, Director
Bio soon to come.....
Mr. Ulysses Owens Jr., Artist in Residence
Mr. Ulysses Owens Jr. visits LaVilla regularly to work with the Davis Street Jazz Band. Owens’s steadfast belief that “music is a universal language with the ability to heal the soul,” coupled with his commitment to disseminating art, is encapsulated no greater than in his lifelong career educating music’s next generation of leaders. Owen’s C.V. includes positions at music schools across New York City and countless speaking engagements hosted domestically and abroad. In 2016, Owens was invited by Wynton Marsalis and Aaron Flagg of the Juilliard School’s Jazz Studies Program, Owens’s alma mater, to join the institution’s esteemed faculty as an instructor for small ensembles.
Despite spending the greater part of his calendar year on the road, Owens also remains tightly connected to his hometown of Jacksonville, Florida where his family founded Don’t Miss a Beat, Inc., a non-profit organization empowering young people to dream big and give back to their communities through a blend of musical, artistic, academic, and civic engagement programming. As DMAB Artistic Director, Owens has created programs for over 200 children and teens annually, including a cross- cultural exchange that gives students the opportunity to experience art and culture abroad. Having had the fortune of dedicated mentors throughout his career, Owens’s interest in investing in young people’s education and self-esteem is a deeply personal cause and one essential to his vision of pushing art forward.