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Our Teaching Staff

Meet our talented team of educators.

Daniel Smith

Daniel F. Smith

Daniel F. Smith is currently the Director of Orchestras at Loveland High School, Lucile Erwin Middle School, and is the Founder and Artistic Director of The Northern Colorado Youth Orchestra.

During Mr. Smith's tenure in Loveland, the orchestra programs have grown from three small groups to fourteen prior to the pandemic. These groups include multiple sections of 6th, 7th, and 8th Grade Orchestra, an Advanced Middle School Orchestra, High School Concert and Chamber Orchestras, a Full Symphony, and Pit Orchestra.

Outside of Thompson School District, Mr. Smith has served as the Principal Bassist for the 101st Army Band for fifteen years, has run The Arco / Pizzicato Music Studio preparing young musicians for All State Orchestra and University studies, and has had the opportunity to perform as a bassist and conductor with countless musical organizations across Colorado.

His vision of Inspiring Harmony for Tomorrow is a commitment to young musicians across Colorado to keep the arts alive in schools and our community for decades to come.

Joshua Greiner

Joshua Greiner

Joshua Greiner is a Fort Collins native and Poudre School District alumni, attending Olander, Blevins, and Rocky Mountain High School. Growing up in Fort Collins, he learned a love for the outdoors through mountain biking, hiking, camping, skiing, and playing disc golf. Joshua started learning the Cello at Blevins Middle School and has been in love with all things Orchestra and music ever since.


He received his Undergraduate degree from Colorado State University in Music Education, Cello Performance, and Cello Pedagogy in December 2019. Mr. Greiner has experience teaching students across Northern Colorado from beginners to advanced, state recognized ensembles. In addition to teaching, Mr. Greiner has performed with his quartet throughout Northern Colorado.


This year is Mr. Greiner’s first year teaching Orchestra at Preston Middle School, starting in August of 2020. Mr. Greiner’s goal is to provide as many opportunities for students to grow as individual players, as leaders, and together as an Orchestra. Mr. Greiner is excited to provide the opportunity for string players in Northern Colorado to participate in a youth orchestra and can’t wait to see where NoCoYO goes in the next few years.

Kris Rangel

Kris Rangel

Kristin Rangel is excited and honored to join the staff of the NoCo Youth Orchestra.  She is happy once again to be working with musicians and colleagues that share her passion for music.

Kris just retired after thirty-six years in education in the public schools. Her last 11 years of teaching were at Preston Middle School in Fort Collins, Colorado as the Orchestra Director.  She also served as the Assistant Honor Orchestra Director for Poudre School District. Kris’ early teaching experiences were for Weld County School District 6 as both an elementary music teacher and on orchestra teacher at the middle school level. She also taught in the Lincoln Public Schools in Lincoln, Nebraska for 14 years in both elementary and middle school as an orchestra director.  While living in Nebraska, Kris had the privilege of writing orchestra music reviews for the Nebraska Music Educator Journal for several years.

As a violinist, Kris has played professionally for the Greeley Philharmonic Orchestra, the Greeley Chamber Orchestra, the Lincoln Symphony Orchestra, the Nebraska Chamber Orchestra, the Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra, the Fort Collins Symphony Orchestra, the Larimer Chorale Orchestra and the Classic String Quartet.  She has played with the likes of Doc Severinsen, Michael Bublé, Quincy Jones, Gladys Knight, Patty Austin, James Ingram, Kenny G, Kansas, and for the rock band Styx.  Kris has also had the opportunity to sing with the Larimer Chorale in Fort Collins, Colorado, as well as the Die Meistersingers in Omaha, Nebraska.  Currently she freelances in the Northern Colorado area and is currently a member of the Hallmark Duo (harp and violin), and String Quartet Con Brio.

Kristin enjoys her family and is very involved with them.  Her husband, Don, is the former Superintendent of Weld County RE1 School District. Don  recently retired  as a Project Director with MGT Consulting and the Adams 14 School District as Interim Superintendent and is now doing consulting work in education.  Their three boys – Donny, Bradley, and Matthew (all former or practicing musicians), are very involved with their careers and are living in Poland, Aurora, and Japan.


Drew Mendizabal

Drew Mendizabal is an aspiring new conductor who recently graduated from the Colorado State University with a Master of Music in orchestral conducting. He studied under the guidance of Wes Kenney and worked in partnership with the CSU orchestras during his time as the Graduate Teaching Assistant. Although primarily a clarinetist, Mr. Mendizabal studied and played viola, piano, and harpsichord while at CSU to supplement his string education. 


Mr. Mendizabal was raised in Las Vegas, Nevada and attended the University of Nevada, Reno for his Bachelor of Music Education. HIs passion for band and orchestra led him to pursue an education degree while studying privately with the Director of Orchestras, Dr. Jason Altieri. Mr. Mendizabal held leadership roles in both the Marching Band as Drum Major for four years, and as President of Kappa Kappa Psi National Honorary Band Fraternity for two years. 


Mr. Mendizabal is excited to join the Northern Colorado Youth Orchestra’s conducting staff. He currently serves as the Instrumental Director at Ridgeview Classical Schools for 5th-12th grade band and orchestra. In addition to this new post, he works with Leslie Stewart and the Health and Wellness orchestra as the Assistant Conductor. He strives to make a difference in the music community of the next generation with an emphasis on diversity in the orchestra. 


Outside of music,  Mr. Mendizabal enjoys spending quality time with his dog son, Rocky Mendizabal. He enjoys watching Spanish and Korean films and series, swimming, cooking, and indulging in hot cups of green tea. 


Barbara Thiem

Barbara Thiem is an internationally acclaimed cellist who combines teaching cello and coaching chamber music with her active schedule of solo, concerto, and chamber music performances in Europe and the United States. She is a founding member of the Mendelssohn Trio that regularly performs in the United States, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, with an appearance at the International Mendelssohn Festival in Berlin. Her prolific performance schedule includes 20-30 concerts each year across Europe, the U.S., Canada, and South America, including many guest artist appearances at the International Draeseke Conference in Coburg, Germany.

In addition to concertizing, Thiem has recorded for many radio stations and has produced several CDs, among them a set of Bach Suites for solo cello, Complete Works for Cello and Piano by Felix Draeseke with pianist Wolfgang Mueller-Steinbach, Works for Cello and Organ with organist Robert Cavarra, and cello/bass duets with Gary Karr. She has published translations of Gerhard Mantel's Cello Technique, and Ernst Mendelssohn Bartholdy’s From New York to San Francisco, both from Indiana University Press, as well as a number of articles on good postural and practicing habits, which appeared in the American String Teacher Association Journal and the American Suzuki Journal.


As an active clinician, lecturer, and adjudicator, Thiem has been a guest at the Encontro Orquestra de Cordas da UnB in Brazil, the Pan American Cello Festival in Texas, at prominent national association conferences, including the Music Teachers National Association, the American Musicological Society, and the American String Teachers Association, and at state music teacher’s conferences and contests.


Thiem teaches and performs within the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance at Colorado State University where she teaches cello and chamber music, leads a three-semester course in cello pedagogy, and teaches in the Pre-College Chamber Music Program. The Mendelssohn Trio is in residence at the University, and Thiem has also participated in research within CSU’s renowned music therapy area. Previous teaching appointments include the University of Wyoming, Indiana University, Lamont School of Music, University of Colorado, University of Texas, and Iowa State University. She has often administered the International Summer Academy of Schloss Ort, Austria.

Thiem holds an M.M. in cello performance from Indiana University where she was assistant to Janos Starker and was awarded the coveted Performer’s Certificate, as well as degrees from Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Cologne, Germany where she studied with avant-garde cellist Siegfried Palm.

She is a ‘Best Teacher’ award-winner at Colorado State University, and a ‘Teacher of the Year,’ nominee for the College of Liberal Arts.

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