Royce Engstrom recently retired from a 41-year career in higher education, serving as a chemistry professor for about half of that time and as an administrator for the other half. He served as President of the University of Montana for six years and was a member of several national-level organizations and boards. He has always been interested in music, playing the guitar and mandolin for fun, and now a little piano. His wife, Mary, is also a life-long educator. They have two children and two grandchildren. Royce feels extremely fortunate to be on the SOR Board.
Joyce moved to Missoula in 1976 to teach Communication Studies at UM after teaching at the University of Colorado. She is a fifth-generation Texas native, and now a first-generation Montanan. As a psychologist in semi-retirement, Joyce writes and teaches at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and at Red Willow Learning Center, where she serves on the advisory board. She began attending SOR in their second year, becoming a devoted audience member. She enjoys being in the giving back phase of life.
Jim Jourdonnais is a native Montanan. He is the retired owner of a small business and holds an MBA in Finance and an MS in Taxation. Jim lives with his wife Barbara in Missoula.
Donna Mendelson worked in photographic collections in the Arizona State Museum and taught first and second grade before going back to school to study English and American literature. She is especially interested in literature and the environment—literary representations of our human relationships with the natural world—and taught at the State University of New York at Binghamton and the University of Montana. She listens to both classical and traditional music and served on the board of directors of the Tucson Friends of Traditional Music and Fiddle and Bow in Winston-Salem, NC.
Tom Cook is a Professor Emeritus of Music at the University of Montana where he was Director of Bands and Professor of Trumpet for fifteen years and Chair of the Department of Music for the following ten. After retirement, he served as interim Chair of the Department of Art and then assistant to the Dean in the School of Fine Arts. He and his wife, Janie, live in Missoula, where he is a part-time program host of Morning Classics on Montana Public Radio. Their two children reside in Missoula, along with their granddaughter. Tom is proud to have been selected for membership on the SOR Board.
Adam Collins has taught cello at the University of Montana and played with the String Orchestra of the Rockies since 2018. He is also principal cellist of the Missoula Symphony Orchestra and the president of the Montana Association of Symphony Orchestras. Since joining the faculty of UM, Adam has performed and led masterclasses across the United States, South Korea, and Canada. His university students have won statewide and regional competitions and been accepted to prestigious summer programs such as Roundtop and Aspen. When Adam isn’t teaching or performing, you’re likely to find him baking sourdough or hiking and running on trails around Missoula.
SOR Artistic Director Maria Larionoff is a graduate of the Juilliard School and the former Concertmaster of the Seattle Symphony. She is currently on the faculty of the Seattle Conservatory and a member of the Vancouver BC-based Vetta Quartet. In her free time she enjoys playing tennis and spending time with golden retrievers.
Dari Quirk, originally from Massachusetts, settled in Missoula with her family in 2013. A great supporter of the arts, Dari was particularly excited to join the SOR family because of her violinist daughter, McKenna. Dari received her undergraduate degree in Art History from Bowdoin College (1988) and her MBA in marketing and finance from the University of Colorado – Boulder (1993). When not coordinating for the SOR, Dari can be found being amazed by her son, Colton’s card tricks, attending 4-H and FFA events with her daughter, McKenna, spending time with her dogs, Diesel and Puck, or enjoying a float on the river with her husband, Jim.
Michael Wilder is a photographer, master color printer, artist, cyclist, and hay and horse farmer among other things. He has been photographing SOR concerts and creating the SOR website since 2005—because he appreciates the fine music and unique place of this orchestra.