A Community Treasure

                          Tacoma Youth Symphony Association


Dr. Paul-Elliott Cobbs
Music Director and Conductor
Tacoma Youth Symphony
Tacoma Junior Youth Symphony
Evergreen Music Festival

Paul-Elliott Cobbs is an avid educator and world-renowned maestro.  His talent and amicable personality have inspired both musicians and symphony-goers throughout the world.  According to Dr. Cobbs, the same diligence, determination, self-confidence and love needed to succeed in music is also necessary in everyday situations. This is the philosophy he brings to the Tacoma Youth Symphony Association. As Music Director, Dr. Cobbs conducts the Tacoma Youth Symphony, Tacoma Junior Youth Symphony, annual Chamber Orchestra (formerly the Bach Festival) and Peter and the Wolf  Children’s Concert. In addition to his conducting duties, Dr. Cobbs is the head of the chamber music program and leads the musical direction of the entire organization. He is also the Music Director of the Evergreen Music Festival.
     In addition to his work with the Tacoma Youth Symphony Association, Dr. Cobbs is Music Director and Conductor of the Everett Philharmonic and frequent Guest Conductor and adjudicator throughout the world.  Having just returned from England where he conducted the Sussex Symphony, he has also recently completed 26 years with the Everett Symphony and 7 years as Director of Orchestras at Central Washington University and is currently the Music Director and Conductor of the Everett Philharmonic.
     Dr. Cobbs is also an international conductor, with conducting credits from Japan and Europe. In February 1995, he was the first American to conduct the Erzgebirge Symphony Orchestra in Leipzig, Germany. Due to the sold-out performance, three encores and seven curtain calls, Dr. Cobbs was named "Star Conductor from the U.S.A." by the Die Freie Presse.  In 1996, Dr. Cobbs was invited to conduct two performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in Leipzig with members of the Dresden and Leipzig operas.  The next two seasons he returned to Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and Japan for conducting invitations.   He completed an unprecedented five consecutive seasons as a guest conductor for  several Polish National Orchestras.  This past spring he Guest Conducted the Sussex Symphony in Brighton, England and following a superb performance was appointed their "Regular Guest Conductor."
     Dr. Cobbs began his conducting career in Detroit, Michigan where he was the Associate \orchestra and frequent Guest Conductor of the Michigan Opera. While in Europe studying conducting at the Akademie für Musik, he was Principal Conductor of the Festival Chamber Orchestra in Vienna. In the Northwest, he has been a high school instrumental music director, guest lecturer at the Seattle University and University of Washington, conductor at the Marrowstone Music Festival, assistant conductor with the Seattle Opera, Conductor of the Seattle Junior Youth Symphony, Music Director and Conductor of the Everett Youth Symphony, Conductor of the Discover Music! community concert series with the Seattle Symphony, and Music Department Chairman, Orchestra Conductor and Theory Instructor at the Northwest School of the Arts in Seattle.

Dr. Anna Jensen

Executive Director

Tacoma String Philharmonic

Dr. Jensen brings 15 years of nonprofit administrative experience to TYSA.  Growing up in a large, musical family with five siblings, Dr. Anna Jensen was primed to excel at the double bass—while also developing a remarkable capacity for intuiting the needs of diverse learners. She embodies that rare combination of extraordinary musician, dynamic teacher, and leader.

   With 20+ years in performance and education, Dr. Jensen has the ability to develop an instant rapport with youth of all types, quickly establishing a sense of trust and shared respect that makes learning comfortable and effective.  From instructing students at a Big Ten university—to developing curriculum for preschoolers—to coaching underserved teen players—Anna Jensen is keenly perceptive and gifted at quickly pivoting and adapting a lesson so it can be received by anyone. She builds students’ music skills; but more importantly, she builds self-esteem.
   Dr. Jensen is the assistant principal bassist of Symphony Tacoma, the principal bassist of the Tacoma Opera Orchestra, and regularly performs with orchestras across the region. 
   Her passion for the music translates to her deep involvement in education. In addition to instructing positions at Pacific Lutheran University and Central Washington University, Dr. Jensen was the education manager for both Symphony Tacoma and the Tacoma Youth Symphony Association where she managed the Evergreen Music Festival for 12 years.  She has taught on the faculty at Bowling Green State University, Ohio and at the University of Puget Sound.  Her double bass students have placed in the top three at the state level numerous times and frequently win concerto competitions.  In recognition of her outstanding teaching, Dr. Jensen was the recipient of the "Outstanding Master Teacher Award" from the American String Teachers Association - WA Chapter and the "Friend of Music" award from the Washington Music Educators Association.
   Receiving her doctorate in musical arts degree in double bass performance at the University of Michigan, she studied with Dr. Diana Gannett and was a graduate student instructor. She holds degrees from the University of Michigan (DMA and MM) and Central Washington University (BM) and has been the recipient of the Mildred Tuttle Fellowship, the Farrell Merit Scholarship-Grant and was awarded the Presser Scholar. When not performing or teaching, Anna can be found making mud pies with her four young children, hiking in the woods, or encouraging her own family’s improvisational skills and joy of music!                               

Karen Helseth
Tacoma String Symphony

Karen Helseth is thrilled to be joining the TYSA faculty as conductor of TSS. She found early inspiration toward a career in music education through her experience as a student in the Everett Youth Symphony under the direction of Dr. Paul-Elliot Cobbs. Ms. Helseth believes that youth symphony programs are a vital part of the music education community. They provide an opportunity for motivated young musicians to experience a high level of rigor, pursue excellence, and explore their passion for music amongst like-minded peers. The knowledge and skills they develop through their weekly rehearsals empower them to serve as leaders in their school music programs, mentoring other students to reach their fullest potential.

During her career spanning 25 years, Ms. Helseth has taught orchestra in grades 5-12, as well as IB Music, Guitar, and History of Rock and Roll. She currently teaches orchestra in grades 7-12 at Shorewood High School and Einstein Middle School in the Shoreline School district, and has previously taught in the Edmonds and Federal Way School Districts. Ms. Helseth has served on the faculty of Cascade Youth Symphony Organization as Conductor of the Sinfonette Orchestra for twelve years, and Cello Coach for the Youth and Junior Symphonies. She has been honored as Sno-King Music Educators Association Teacher of the Year, and was recognized by the Shorewood High School PTA as Shorewood’s Outstanding Educator for the 2020-2021 school year. Ms. Helseth currently serves as President of Washington Music Educators Association, and has previously served on the WMEA board as Orchestra Curriculum Officer, Vice President, and President-Elect. She holds degrees in Cello Performance and Music Education from University of Washington and University of Massachussetts, and is a National Board Certified Teacher. Passionate about scholarship and professional development, Ms. Helseth regularly attends conferences and workshops related to strings performance and education, and has received fellowships from National Endowment for the Humanities to attend music history institutes in Vienna, Germany, St. Louis, and Pittsburgh.

Based until recently in the North Seattle area, Ms. Helseth now splits her time between Seattle and Tacoma, and is excited to reconnect with the music community in the South Puget Sound region, where she began her school music teaching career. 

Dale Johnson
Tacoma Young Artists Orchestra
Evergreen Music Festival

Dale Johnson is a man committed to youth, music and education. Conductor of the Tacoma Junior Symphony since 1979 and the Tacoma Young Artists Orchestra since its creation in 1985.   Dale Johnson is a man committed to youth, music, and education.  Conductor of the Tacoma Young Artists Orchestra since its creation in 1985, Mr. Johnson has continually raised the artistic standard and vision of the Tacoma Youth Symphony Association (TYSA).  His adventurous programming challenges and educates the students of the TYSA community. He has worked tirelessly to forge strong ties with the various music offerings in the community.  In 1982 he initiated the TYSA sponsored String Orchestra Festival that now annually attracts in excess of 1200 students.  He played a major hand in creating and developing the Evergreen Music Festival.  Since its inception in 1984 he has continuously taught, conducted, and served as its Associate Director.  He also teaches music theory and directs the TYSA chamber music program.
      Mr. Johnson helped organize and conduct the Tacoma Sister City Orchestra Festival in 1993 and again in 2006. He conducted the Tacoma Youth Symphony during its European tour in 1983 and in acclaimed Carnegie Hall concerts in both 2000 and 2005.
      He received music degrees from Brigham Young University and the University of Washington, where he studied conducting with Stanley Chapple and violin and viola with Donald McInnis. His teaching career has included the Seattle, Federal Way, and Tacoma School Districts.  He served as Music Director of the Tacoma Community College Chamber Orchestra for thirteen years.
      Mr. Johnson is a retired director of orchestras of Rainier Middle School and Auburn High School, where he served as chairman of the Fine Arts Department.  The Music Department at Auburn High School was one of 35 of the more than 22,000 in the nation to be named a GRAMMY Signature School in 2004-05, their fourth GRAMMY award.  Mr. Johnson was honored as Public School String Teacher of the Year for 2001 by the Washington American String Teachers Association.  Since then he has been highlighted in the School Band & Orchestra Magazine as one of 50 teachers in the nation who make a difference, recognized as music educator of the year in the Green River Music Region, and honored as recipient of the John Binns Award from Friends of the Library at TCC.  In 2009 he was named Music Teacher of the Year in Washington State by the Washington Music Educators Association.

Elizabeth Ward
TYSA Brass Choir
Assistant Conductor
TJYS Wind, Brass and Percussion

     Leading TYSA's brass choir and the entry level wind, brass and percussion of the Tacoma Junior Youth Symphony, Liz Ward presents the team effort necessary to address the needs of these students.  Elizabeth Ward, horn, received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Washington and a Master of Musical Arts degree from Yale School of Music.  Ms. Ward is a former member of the New Haven Symphony, Pennsylvania Ballet Orchestra, Pennsylvania Orchestra, Philadelphia Opera Orchestra and Young Audiences Inc., of Philadelphia.  Returning to the Northwest, Ms Ward founded the Evergreen Brass Quintet.  The Quintet is well known for its’ educational programs and is a part of the Washington State Arts Commissions’ “Arts In Education” and Arts Network of Washington, “Rural Residency” programs and a member of Arts Northwest.  Ms Ward has an active private studio of young and aspiring horn players.  Her students have consistently received awards on the state level thru the Washington State Music Educators Association and on the national level from Music Teachers National Association.  For the past several years she has conducted the TYSA Brass Choir and has added being the Assistant Conductor of the Tacoma Debut Orchestra winds, brass and percussion (SWAT).

Patricia Wooster
Harp Training Program

     Leads the Harp Training program and Harp Ensemble of up to 30 students.  They hold three performances annually.  Selected students serve as harpists in the TYSA orchestras.  Patricia McNulty Wooster teaches harp at the University of Puget Sound and at Pacific Lutheran University.  She holds degrees in both music and education and studied harp with Lynne Palmer in Seattle.  Her 42-year teaching career includes experience in high school, community college and universities.  Mrs. Wooster has presented workshops and has performed at national conferences of the American Harp Society and ASTA, and has serves as a judge for the AHS National Competition.  She and her daughter, Elizabeth, presented a duo harp performance at the AHS National Conference in St. Paul in June 2002.  She has served as principal harpist and soloist with orchestras on both the west and east coasts.  Recently she resigned as Principal Harp with the Tacoma Symphony, but still performs with the Northwest Sinfonietta.  She also performs locally in both a harp duo and a harp/flute duo.  Mrs. Wooster founded and directs the harp-training program for the Tacoma Youth Symphony Association and teaches 35 harp and piano students, ranging from age 8 to senior citizens and from beginners to young professionals in her private studio.  Patricia Wooster is past president of the American Harp Society and is Chairman of the Board of the World Harp Congress, Inc.  She was chairman of the Sixth World Harp Congress International Music Festival that brought more than 1,000 harpists from more than thirty countries to Tacoma for an eight-day music festival in July 1996.

Dr. Loma Cobbs

Music Theory and Musicology

Former Executive Director

For nearly three decades she led the entire organization as Executive Director instilling the culture with her dedication to music and youth. Dr. Loma L Cobbs has achieved consistently high ratings from the Washington State Arts Commission, Tacoma Arts Commission and ArtsFund.   Having been involved with the Tacoma Youth Symphony Association since 1993, she initially served as Festival Manager for the Evergreen Music Festival for three years and then became Marketing Manager.  For two years she was the Operations Manager for the organization while teaching Music History courses at Tacoma Community College.  Her motivational attitude has served the students well, inspiring them to new heights of performance excellence.  Although she recently retired as Executive Director, she continues her work with the TYSA serving as the Music Theory and Musicology Instructor.
      Loma has been a guest lecturer at the University of Washington in Seattle and Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  She was a regular speaker at the League of American Orchestras National Convention, where she delivered presentations on youth orchestra operations and management.  She was a member of the Northwest Development Officers Association (NDOA), Puget Sound Grantwriters Association (PSGA), City Club, Health Council of Pierce County and on the Board of Directors of the Theater District Association (TDA).  She was also on the Education Committee for the Northwest Sinfonietta, the Board of the Association of Northwest Symphony Orchestras and served for many years on the Ethics Committee of Good Samaritan Hospital.  She added the role of Executive Director of the Everett Philharmonic, a professional orchestra in Everett, serving as their inaugural Director and continuing for their first six years.
      Loma was born in Tacoma and has been an active member of the Pierce County community for the past forty years.  She has served on the boards and as president of several local civic and educational organizations.  She brings with her an educational background in math, physics, medical ethics and business experience in personnel, music and law.  A pianist since the age of four, she also plays the organ and violin.