Creative Team Restructured; New Leadership for Percussion Program

The season ends, the members go back to their lives, and corps around the nation begin planning for the next season. This year’s "off-season" is a particularly busy one for Pacific Crest.

After nearly 20 years of dedicated leadership, Dale Leaman has stepped down as Program Coordinator & Director of Education Programs. This is a significant change, and one that has required a restructuring of our creative team. Click here to read about the incredible impact of Dale’s contributions over the years at PC. The organization looks forward to staff calling on him for guidance and teaching during the upcoming season.


In a letter to the Pacific Crest family in September, Executive Director Stuart Pompel named Mark Gunderson as Program Coordinator & Ensemble Music Director. Mark has been with Pacific Crest since 1997, when he was hired as Brass Caption Supervisor. Over the past 14 years, he has assumed greater responsibility – serving most recently as Music Coordinator and a member of the Design Team. Mark’s focus will be facilitating the Team’s work and managing the design process, timeline, and implementation of the 2012 program. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education and a Master’s in Conducting from CSU Fullerton.

"We are excited that Steven Estudillo (drill designer) and Angela Tousley (guard designer) are returning for the 2012 season," says Pompel. In addition, Pacific Crest has tapped some of most notable designers in DCI and the marching band activity to help create next season’s program: Jeff LeeJohn Meehan, Ralph Pace, and Pete Sapadin.                               

Jeff Lee will be Music Director & Front Ensemble Arranger/Sound Designer. He currently works as the Music Director and Composer/Arranger for Mason Entertainment Group (MEG), producer of Blast! and other productions. During the 1990s, Jeff had an impressive decade-long run as percussion arranger/composer and instructor for the Concord Blue Devils, and currently serves as Front Ensemble Supervisor and Sound Designer for Madison Scouts. He holds a Master of Arts Degree in Percussion from CSU Fresno.

John Meehan will be Brass Arranger. He replaces Brian Belski, who’s worked with Pacific Crest off and on for a decade, and who did a first-rate job on brass arrangements over the past two years. Drum corps fans will know Meehan from the Blue Devils, where he’s taught brass since 1994, and has been the Brass Caption Head since 2006.  Outside of the drum corps activity, Meehan’s compositional highlights include the concert band commissions "Circe’s Curse" and "Man of the Minute", and he has released three CD’s of original music, which are all available on Apple’s iTunes.

Ralph Pace, a member of DCI’s prestigious Hall of Fame, has been tapped as Visual Coordinator. If you know about the 27th Lancers, you’ll immediately recognize Ralph’s success. In addition to “2-7”, Ralph designed shows and instructed for some of DCI’s most successful corps – including Phantom Regiment, The Cavaliers, Crossmen, and Spirit of Atlanta. His most recent work has been as design consultant for Boston Crusaders.

To fill the role of Field Percussion Arranger, Pacific Crest has selected Pete Sapadin, a marching percussion specialist based in Southern California, who has performed and taught around the world. Pete was a member of three World Class snare lines – Velvet Knights (1987-88), Blue Devils (1989-90), and The Cadets (1991) – and has taught at Riverside Community College and Yamato. His recent World Class experience was as Percussion Caption Head and Arranger for The Troopers (2002 – 2004).


After serving four years as Percussion Caption Head, Matt Altmire will not be returning to Pacific Crest in 2012, but rather will be devoting time to his doctoral studies at UCLA. Matt joined the team in the fall of 2007 and is largely responsible for the growth in the quality of our percussion program over the past four seasons. He brought aboard highly qualified instructors, who will continue to build the percussion program into the future.

Andrew Bill has been promoted to fill the position of Percussion Caption Head, and looks forward to building on Matt’s work. Andy came to Pacific Crest in 2010 as a front ensemble instructor and served as Front Ensemble Supervisor in 2011. He hails from University of North Texas, where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education. At UNT, Andy studied marimba under She –E Wu and Leigh Howard Stevens, and performed under Eugene Corporon. He served as District Percussion Coordinator for the Northwest ISD in Fort Worth, Texas, prior to coming to California. Andy currently instructs the Santa Monica, Mira Costa, Pacific Palisades and Los Angeles High School percussion programs. He’s also an instructor for the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles and Harmony Projects under the direction of L.A. Philharmonic conductor Gustavo Dudamel and works regularly with A.S.C.A.P. Award winning film and television composer Eric Amdahl.

As Andy moves into his new role, we are pleased to announce Rudy Arzaga as Front Ensemble Supervisor. Rudy brings a wealth of performance experience, including Pacific Crest, Cascades, and the Blue Devils. He has also performed with Black Knights and Riverside Community College.  Rudy earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications with an emphasis in public relations from CSU Fullerton, as well as a Minor in music. He is currently instructing the front ensembles at Trabuco Hills and Upland High Schools, as well as Pulse Open.

For detailed bios on these and other Pacific Crest staff, click here.