Band Members

Steve Felix, trumpet

Currently residing in Rochester, New York, Steve is a third-year doctoral student at the renowned Eastman School of Music. He received his Master’s degree in Trumpet Performance from the Eastman School, and a Bachelor’s degree in Trumpet Performance & Music Education from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  An avid soloist, Steve has performed in competitions on the national and international level.  Most recently, Steve was awarded first place in the graduate solo division of the 2015 National Trumpet Competition, performing the fourth movement of Anthony Plog’s Concerto No. 2 for Trumpet & Orchestra.  In 2011, he was awarded second place in the undergraduate solo division, performing the first movement of John Stevens’ Sonata for Trumpet and Piano.  Steve has also been the recipient of three, consecutive scholarships from the International Trumpet Guild, from 2008-2010.  During the summer of 2011, Steve attended The Center for Advanced Musical Studies at Chosen Vale, a two-week long annual seminar, where he studied with some of the world’s most iconic trumpet soloists.

As an educator, Steve maintains a private studio comprising primary, secondary, and collegiate level students through the University of Rochester and the Eastman Community Music School.  While teaching in Massachusetts, he served as trumpet instructor at the prestigious Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, MA, and many of his students went on to hold top positions in all-district and all-state festival ensembles.  Along with teaching privately, Steve also teaches publicly as an active clinician.  His clinic, entitled “Basics in Brass,” is designed to offer a simplistic and effective approach to playing a brass instrument through singing, mouthpiece buzzing, and ease of airflow.  Steve is an active recruiter and ambassador for community outreach for the organizations and institutions that he is affiliated with.  In March of 2016, Steve co-coordinated and co-hosted a two-day regional trumpet festival at the Eastman School, helping bring the esteemed talents of Mark Gould, Brian Shaw, Bob Malone, and Wayne Tanabe to the greater-Rochester and Eastman communities.  Steve has also served as Choir Director for his chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia at the University of Massachusetts (of which he is a founding brother), and also as inaugural President of the Pioneer Valley Trumpet Guild, a student-run affiliate chapter of the International Trumpet Guild.

Dean Oaks, trumpet

Dean is a native of Fayetteville, North Carolina and is currently pursuing a graduate degree from Boston University. He holds a bachelor’s degree in trumpet performance from the prestigious Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York where he received the Sidney Meer trumpet prize and is also a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Dean pursued graduate studies at the world renowned Royal Academy of Music in London, England. He attended the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, North Carolina in the summer of 2015 where he performed with both the student and faculty orchestra.

Dean is a passionate chamber musician and is currently active with the Flower City Brass quintet. Flower City Brass were featured as performers in collaboration with the Eastman Wind Ensemble in the spring of 2018 and performed Jeff Tyzik’s “New York Cityscape.” During the summer of 2017 Flower City Brass were featured as performers at the Brass im Frankenwald-Haus Marteau music festival in Lichtenberg, Germany hosted by Rekkenze Brass. He was also a member of the Elemental Brass Quintet from 2013 to 2014. Elemental Brass was created to host a free summer music program called Summer Brass Bash in Winston-Salem, North Carolina of which Dean was a proud co-founder. There, Dean lead trumpet masterclasses and taught private lessons to middle and high school students.

Dean was a practice mentor for the Eastman Community School of Music in Rochester, New York between 2015 and 2017, where he gave middle and high school students one-on-one instruction. Dean also volunteered as a teacher at the Methodist University Summer Jam music camp in Fayetteville, North Carolina from 2011 to 2013.

An advocate for early music performance practice, Dean studied baroque trumpet under the technical guidance of Brian Shaw, Robert Farley, and Jared Wallis as well as under the musical guidance of Christel Thielmann. He has also performed with the Royal Academy of Music baroque orchestra and the Eastman School of Music baroque trumpet ensemble.

Dean has performed, toured, and recorded with the world famous Eastman Wind Ensemble with whom he premiered and recorded Jeff Tyzik’s new arrangement of Images (originally written for string orchestra). In 2016 Dean performed with the Eastman Philharmonia and Renee Fleming at the Lincoln Center in New York City, where the ensemble premiered Kevin Puts’ piece Letters From Georgia. Dean performed in the inaugural concert of the Upstate Brass Band as a soprano cornetist.

As a soloist and contemporary music enthusiast, Dean has performed and competed with works such as Luciano Berio’s Sequenza X, Peter Maxwell Davies’ Sonata and Litany for a Ruined Chapel between Sheep and Shore and Robert Henderson’s Variation Movements. Most recently he was a featured soloist with the Portland State University Wind Ensemble where he performed a work by Kevin McKee. Dean has been a semifinalist and placed at multiple competitions including the National Trumpet Competition, North America Brass Band Association, University of Kentucky/Greensboro Trumpet Festival, and International Trumpet Guild Youth Solo Competition. He was a featured soloist with the UNCSA chamber orchestra where he performed Aaron Copland’s Quiet City in 2013.

Dean’s primary teachers are James Thompson, Chris Gekker, Dave Bamonte, Mark David, Robert Farley, Brian Shaw, Judy Saxton, and Larry Wells.

Dean proudly plays Monette trumpets and Monette PRANA resonance mouthpieces.

Sara Petokas, horn

Sara Petokas is from near Scranton Pennsylvania, where she went to Tunkhannock High School. Sara has a BM in Music Education from Mansfield University in Pennsylvania, where she studied with Professor Rebecca Dodson-Webster. At Mansfield University, she was the Music theory tutor (2014-2015), and won the Concerto Competition in 2014. She performed Morceau de Concert by Camille Saint Saëns with the Mansfield Symphony Orchestra that year. Sara graduated with a Bachelor’s in Music Education from Mansfield University. She completed her Masters in Music Performance and Literature at the Eastman School of music with Professor Peter Kurau. Sara was a TA of the Eastman Horn studio, and Eastman Natural Horn Studio. While at Eastman, she studied Natural Horn under Professor Derek Conrad. She was also TA for the Horn Methods Course in the Music Education Department, and taught horn Secondary Collegiate lessons. Sara was an intern at the Eastman Community Music School (2015-2017), and taught private lessons to students of all ages.

Sara was Principal of the Northern Tier symphony from 2011-2015, and performed Mozart’s Fourth Horn Concerto with the symphony in Fall 2014. She is now a regular sub with the Williamsport Symphony in Pennsylvania. During the summer 2017, she performed in Germany with the Rekkenze Brass and her brass quintet from Eastman, the Flower City Brass. Sara is studying with Jeff Nelson at Indiana University to complete the Doctor of Music program. After graduation, Sara hopes to begin teaching at the collegiate level.

Tyler Simms, trombone

Tyler Simms is the DMA Trombone Graduate Assistant at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He instructs undergraduate and graduate trombonists at CCM and is the director and conductor of the CCM Trombone Ensemble. Simms obtained a Master’s Degree in Trombone from the Eastman School of Music in May 2017 and was the first MM candidate to earn the Eastman Certificate in College Music Teaching since the inception of the program. Previously, he obtained a Bachelor’s of Instrumental Music Education from the University of Kentucky in May 2015. His principal teachers include Dale Warren, Bradley Kerns, Larry Zalkind, Mark Kellogg, and Timothy Anderson.

Simms has performed on trombone and euphonium in guest appearances with The Moscow Ballet, Arturo Sandoval, Wycliffe Gordon, Pink Martini, Bob Mintzer, the Boston Pops Symphony Orchestra, the Greece Symphony, The Eastman Wind Ensemble, The Kentucky Symphony, The Evansville Symphony Orchestra, The Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra, and The Lexington Brass Band.

In 2018, Simms was invited to the third annual Stockholm Chamber Brass Academy in Leksand as a member of Flower City Brass. An advocate of international brass chamber music, Simms performed with the Flower City Brass at the 2017 annual Frankenwald Brass Festival and Haus Marteau Brass Course in Lichtenberg, Germany in August 2017. In addition, Simms was invites as a member of the Remington Trombone Quartet to Redlands, California, in June 2017 as a finalist in the International Trombone Festival Quartet Competition. The Remington Trombone Quartet received the runner-up prize both in this competition and in the 2017 American Trombone Workshop Trombone Quartet Competition in Washington DC.

Simms has continually enjoyed success as an educator. In addition to his experience teaching applied trombone at the higher education level, he has also organized a formidable private lesson studio throughout his entire professional career. His private students have performed in prestigious ensembles such as the NAfME Honor Bands and Orchestras of America, the Kentucky Governor’s School of the Arts, the KMEA All State Bands, Jazz Ensembles and Orchestras, and the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras.

Simms has co-released an album of vocal transcriptions with Kristen Petty in cooperation with New Branch Records entitled, Songs Without Words (© Simms, Petty 2015) available on Amazon, iTunes, and Spotify.

Brett Copeland, tuba

Currently residing in Rochester, NY, Brett Copeland is a performer and composer of acoustic and electroacoustic music.  He maintains a freelance career as a performer, composer, and educator of both tuba and music technology. As a performing musician, Brett has played with the Venice Symphony (FL) and the South Shore Symphony Orchestra (FL) as principal tubist. He has also performed with Symphoria (NY) and the Ash Lawn Opera (VA).

Brett is currently attending the Eastman School of Music working towards a D.M.A. in Tuba Performance and Literature, where he is a teaching assistant for both the tuba studio and EARS (Eastman Audio Research Studio).  In his role with EARS, he assists with the Advanced Electronic Music courses, teaches his own lab for electronic music, and provides support for recitals and events that use electronics.  He holds an M.M. in Tuba Performance with additional studies in Electro-acoustic Composition (’16) from the University of South Florida and a B.A. in Music Technology (’14) from the University of Northern Iowa.  His primary teachers include Don Harry, Jay Hunsberger, Baljinder Sekhon, Jeff Funderburk, and James Grant.  Brett plays a Meinl Weston 2000 CC tuba and a Meinl Weston 45slp F tuba.

Recent recordings and original compositions of Brett’s can be found on his website,