Darlene Schmid was born and raised in Missoula and is a third-generation Montanan. With music a part of her life from a young age, Darlene played flute in the MCPS grade school and high school bands, as well as the high school symphony. Like many native Montanans, she left the State for a time but returned to Big Sky country—drawn home by the love of mountains and wonderful quality of life. She has a Master’s Degree in Public Health and has worked as a registered nurse in Montana for over 30 years. Her daughter’s violin teacher, Madeleine McKelvey, encouraged her to join the Board for the String Orchestra of the Rockies over 5 years ago, and she has loved being a part of this extraordinary organization.
Royce Engstrom has been in higher education for over 40 years, serving as a chemistry faculty member 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 is now teaching and doing research in chemistry again. 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.
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.
Susan Johnson, a retired nurse, is a strong proponent of the String Orchestra of the Rockies, Handel’s operas and Bach’s choral music. When not playing her own violin, she works hard to ensure that charitable donations cover operating expenses and support the long-term viability of the SOR.
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.
Madeleine McKelvey is a founding member of the String Orchestra of the Rockies and was a principal player in the Missoula Symphony for many years. She is a devoted private teacher of violin and viola, with extensive training in the Suzuki method. Before returning to her native Missoula in 1995, she lived in Florida and California, where she taught and played professionally. She studied music at Catholic University in Washington, DC, the Royal Conservatory in Brussels, and at the University of Montana, where she earned degrees in both Music and Liberal Arts. She and her husband Kevin spend most of their free time with their two-year-old grandson.
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.