Sierra Mountain Music Camp has been lucky enough to have some wonderful talents in the roles of Music Directors. We have award winning directors, many of whom have received national recognition, and have studied among other great talents. In addition to being wonderful directors, these people have inspired many former campers to pursue a lifelong devotion to music, and have kept the flame of music alive in the hearts of hundreds of former campers.
Leo Gravin: Orchestra Director
Leo Gravin began the string program at SMMC in the year 2000. He returned in 2007, and has been with the Camp
ever since. He holds an M.A. in Cello Performance, a California Clear Teaching Credential, an Administrative Services
Credential, and an English Language Learners Certificate.
Mr. Gravin’s professional career began at age 18 as a cellist with the Sacramento Symphony. He has played with
organizations including the Stockton, Modesto, Vallejo, and Santa Rosa Symphonies; the Reno Philharmonic; the
Aspen, CO, Bear Valley, CA, and Round Top, TX Music Festivals; Music in the Mountains, and headliner shows at
Nevada Casinos including Harrah’s Lake Tahoe and Reno. Since 1996 he has taught music full-time in the public
schools, and is currently with the Folsom-Cordova Unified School District. During the summer (when he is not
with SMMC) Mr. Gravin plays principal cello with the Music Circus at the Wells Fargo Pavillion. He is also a cellist
with the Sacramento Philharmonic, Opera, Choral Society, and Ballet Orchestras.
Mr. Gravin’s teaching and conducting experience includes a wide range of students from ages 5 to 85. He is the
former director and conductor of the South Placer Youth Symphony, the Solano County Youth Orchestra, the CMEA
All-City Honor Orchestra, the Vacaville U.S.D. Honor Orchestra, and the Folsom-Cordova U.S.D. Honor Orchestra.
He also began a highly successful Adult Education Orchestra with the Folsom-Cordova Unified School District.
Mr. Gravin is a frequent adjudicator and coach for the Golden Empire Music Festival and the Sacramento Youth Symphony.
As a public school orchestra director and instructor, his students consistently receive Superior ratings or win Command
Performances at Music Festivals and Concerto Competitions. Several of Mr. Gravin’s former students are now enjoying
professional music careers of their own
Cherry Hayes: Artistic Director/ Choral Music Director- Senior Girls
Cherry has literally taught music to thousands of young people. She has taught all grade levels, elementary
through high school. Cherry has developed highly successful choral programs, attracting over 15% of the
student body in choir. Her choirs consistently received superior ratings and first place honors at any festival
they attended. They have performed in Carnegie Hall, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Honolulu Gateway Music Festival,
and the Abbotsford International Music Festival. Her groups twice performed aboard a Carnival cruise ship
bound for the Bahamas, each time earning gold medals for superior performances.
Cherry received a Bachelor of Arts degree in classical vocal performance and music education from California
State University, Sacramento, and a Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction in
the Arts from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Cherry holds a lifetime California teaching
credential and was a public school educator for thirty-seven years before retiring in 2007. Since retirement,
Cherry continues a variety of music activities. She is Director of Music at Calvary Bible Church, which includes
directing the adult choir and leading worship. She teaches voice and piano from her Grass Valley home and also
enjoys judging choral festivals for California Music Educators Association and Music in the Parks.
Cherry has been the recipient of numerous awards including Pleasant Ridge District Teacher of the Year, the May
Martin Goyne Educator of the Arts award, Bear River High School's Teachers Who Make a Difference, California
Music Educators Association Capitol Section Choral Music Educator's Award and has been listed numerous times
in Who's Who Among America's Teachers and Who's Who Among American Women. This is Cherry's 12th year as
a SMMC Music Director. She has directed Junior Boys, Junior Girls, Senior Girls and A Capella. Cherry is excited to
be directing Senior Girls and A Capella for SMMC 2020!
Rod Baggett: Choral Music Director- Senior Boys
Rodney Baggett is in his 30th year teaching choral music and his 22nd year leading the program at Nevada
Union High School which services students from the communities of Grass Valley and Nevada City, California.
He received his music degree and training from San Francisco State University in 1987 and taught in the greater
Sacramento area before coming to Nevada Union High in 1996.
Mr. Baggett conducts six choirs at Nevada Union High School varying in range from beginning, intermediate to
advanced choral ensembles. The choirs under his direction have consistently received superior ratings and
marks at choral festivals, earning them a reputation of excellence throughout California, the U.S. and Europe.
Baggett has traveled with his choirs to Austria, Bosnia, Croatia, Czech Republic, England, Estonia, Finland,
Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Northern Ireland, Poland, Scotland, Serbia
and Spain. He is a member of the California Music Educators Association and the American Choral Directors
Association. In 2005 he was awarded a Certificate of Excellence by the California Music Educators Association.
Outside of the choral classroom, Mr. Baggett is actively involved in the music of the community and has been
a leader in various singing and song sharing events ranging from casual ‘sing-a-longs’ to others that focus more
intently on learning to sing various vocal parts in harmony. He sings, plays guitar and piano/keyboards in several
ensembles and bands that perform locally for various events and music festivals i.e. celtic festival, world music
festival. In addition to performing he has also led workshops in multicultural music at the California World Fest.
SMMC is thrilled to have Rod join our music staff for 2020 camp.
Anne Vaaler: Choral Music Director- Junior Girls
Anne Vaaler is the director of the Colla Voce Children's Chorus, bringing the art and love of choral music to a new
generation of Sierra Foothills singers. She also keeps busy as a Music Director for the Placer Community theater,
recently directing "Marry Poppins" and "Godspell"; and lends her soprano voice to a contemporary church
service and various musical projects. Anne continues as director of Choral Music at Magnolia Intermediate
School, where she has taught since 2002. Magnolia is part of the Pleasant Ridge School District, where Anne
is the choral and classroom music specialist, and directs the popular show choir program, "Starmakers".
Previously, Anne taught at San Francisco's George Washington High School, directing a program of seven choral
ensembles. Anne received her B.A. in music from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa where she was fortunate
enough to sing in the Nordic Choir and work under the direction of choral directors Weston Noble and Craig
Arnold. She continued her studies at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and San Francisco State University,
completing her teaching credential in music. Anne is a certified Music Together teacher,and is a member of MENC
and ACDA. She has been awarded the California League of Teachers "Outstanding Educator" award, and was
honored by San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown for her work with George Washington High School. She has served
as director for several Honor Choirs and as a clinician and adjudicator for numerous choirs and solo/ensemble festivals.
Sarah Irvin: Choral Music Director-Junior Boys
Sarah is a hard-working, dedicated musician who is passionate about choral education and loves to share that
enthusiasm with her students. She is especially excited to return to the staff of Sierra Mountain Music Camp,
directing the Junior Boys again. Sarah earned her Bachelor of Music degree in music education from
the University of Nevada, Reno. She currently teaches choral and classroom music at Cold Springs Middle
School in the Washoe County School District in Reno. Sarah interned in the same district in choral and
classroom music programs, grades K - 12, directing both elementary and high school choral ensembles.
Choir has always played a huge part in Sarah's life. Being a choir member since elementary school, she has
been a member of many honor ensembles, served as a soloist and section leader in the UNR University
Chamber Singers, Symphonic choir, and Nevada Chamber Opera.
Sarah's teaching style is one of enthusiasm, passion, and humor. SMMC Director Cherry Hayes says, "I've had
the pleasure of observing Sarah in action. Her love of kids and music is obvious. She engages them from the
moment they enter the classroom and all are eager to participate and meet the goals set for them. Not only do
they produce beautiful music, but they have fun doing it!"