sturgisDr. Alfred E. Sturgis

Dr. Alfred E. Sturgis is the conductor of the Tar River Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus. He also the principal conductor of the Carolina Ballet as well as music director of theNorth Carolina Master Chorale.

Al has conducted a number of successful performances with Carolina Ballet including Messiah, Romeo & Juliet, Carmen, and Nutcracker. Al is highly regarded for his versatility as a conductor in a variety of other musical arenas as well including orchestral, choral, and opera. His international conducting experiences have taken him to China, Bulgaria, France, and Italy.

He recently made his Lincoln Center debut as a guest conductor with the New York City Ballet.

Other Guest Conductor appearances include:

  • North Carolina Symphony
  • Raleigh Civic Symphony
  • Winston-Salem Symphony
  • National Opera Company

Sturgis was the 1996 recipient of the Raleigh Medal of Arts. In addition to his conducting experience, Sturgis was a featured soloist with the Robert Shaw Festival Singers, and he performs on a Grammy-winning CD by the same group.

Al earned his Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees from the University of South Florida and his doctorate from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. He has also been a public school teacher and a church musician. Al lives in Cary with his wife and two children.

glasgowBgMichael J. Glasgow

Michael J. Glasgow is in his eighth season as the rehearsal conductor of the Tar River Chorus.

Michael has served as the full-time Minister of Music since 1998 for the North Raleigh United Methodist Church.

An honors graduate from the College of Charleston (SC), Michael earned B.A. degrees in music theory/composition and journalism. He holds a Master of Church Music degree from Concordia University Wisconsin as the program’s first double-emphasis student, in both choral and hand-bell music.

Michael has composed four musical plays, as well as numerous original sacred choral, orchestral and handbell compositions. His setting of the Latin Requiem text was premiered at North Raleigh United Methodist Church with full orchestra and choir in 2001 and once again received wonderful acclaim at the 2011 ten year anniversary performance.

Michael is an active member of:

  • American Composers Forum (ACF)
  • American Choral Directors Association (ACDA)
  • American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP)
  • Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts (FUMMWA)
  • Handbell Musicians of America
  • Mensa


gillilandPatsy Johnson Gilliland

Patsy Johnson Gilliland is the conductor of the Tar River Children’s Chorus

Patsy is a founding board member and visionary of the Tar River Choral and Orchestral Society. She tirelessly promotes the organization and molds young voices into award winning ambassadors of Rocky Mount.

Performances and awards include:

  • Miss North Carolina
  • Talent award winner – Miss America competition
  • Soloist – Miss America-USO Show
  • Johnny Carson Show
  • Soloist – Winston-Salem Symphony

Patsy brings the professionalism necessary to succeed as a performer in operas, oratorio, musicals, concerts, radio and television to hungry young students. She graduated as a voice major from Meredith College and earned her Master of Music degree in voice performance from Indiana University.

Patsy continues to sing professionally and teaches voice privately. She is married to the Reverend Peter Gilliland and they have one son, Matt, and daughter-in-law, Meghan.

Children’s Chorus Wins Big in New York


Chris Ellisunnamed (1)

In addition to teaching and conducting with the Tar River Strings, Chris teaches violin privately in Greenville, Goldsboro and Wilson. He also conducts the Beaufort County Community Orchestra, a community orchestra in Washington, NC, and teaches applied violin/viola at Coastal Carolina Community College in Jacksonville.

Chris earned a Bachelor of Music degree at East Carolina University studying with Paul Topper. He later earned a Master of Music degree at Florida State University studying with Karen Clarke and Gary Kosloski. He was a member of the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra and has performed with other orchestras including the Southwest Florida Symphony, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra of Georgia, and the Richmond Symphony Orchestra. He is currently a member of the Tar River Symphony Orchestra and has been the concertmaster of the Barton College/Wilson Symphony since 2002.