In Irish's first year at Summer Creek, all Irish led ensembles received straight 1s at UIL, along with a regional performance with Music for All leading to Summer Creek being recommended for and accepted to the 2023 Music for All National Festival. Dozens of Summer Creek students were named to region, area, received gold medals at State TSSEC, and performed with the Houston Youth Orchestras. In the Spring of 2022, the Summer Creek Symphony was highly praised with two judges noting they were moved to tears, while the Chamber Orchestra was credited with "exceptional artistry" by a Music for All evaluator.
Named Indiana Music Educator of the Year in 2013 by Indianapolis Youth Orchestras, Irish tripled the enrollment of both the band and orchestra program in his first three years as director, creating the Palo Verde Philharmonic in 2016. The Palo Verde Philharmonic finished 2nd place in the full orchestra division at the ASTA National Orchestra Festival in 2019 and was invited to perform at the 2020 Music for All National Festival. Under Irish’s tenure as Director of Bands, Palo Verde's Wind Orchestra was selected three times (2015, 2018, 2020) to the featured stage of the National Festival, performed at numerous Music for All Regional Affiliate festivals and hosted the Las Vegas Concert Band Festival, starting in 2019. All ensembles under Irish’s direction have received Superior Ratings in all CCSD-sponsored festivals including concert band, jazz band, and orchestra. Irish was recognized by U.S. House Representative Susie Lee for the accomplishments achieved at Palo Verde during Irish's tenure.
Irish has conducted performances in Czech Republic, Germany, and China. Irish is a published arranger with his setting “Suite from ‘The Mikado’” having been performed on “Marquee Mojo” with the UNLV Wind Orchestra on Klavier Records (K11185), as well as being found in Teaching Music Through Performance in Band Vol. 9, and featured on “Wind and Rhythm” on NPR. Teaming with David Maccabee, Irish was a presenter at the Arts Empowerment Conference, discussing transitioning a marching program from competitive to non-competitive. Irish received an MM in Wind Conducting and BME from UNLV, as well as having taken undergraduate music classes at Ball State University. Irish previously taught band and choir at North White Jr./Sr. High School in Monon, Indiana where similar growth occurred. Irish was recognized by U.S. House Representative Todd Rokita for having 100% superior ratings for all entries at Solo & Ensemble in his second year at North White.
Karen Kelley is an Assistant Orchestra Director at Summer Creek HS in Humble ISD. She graduated from the University of New Mexico where she received a double bachelor’s degree in violin performance and string pedagogy. While at UNM she taught private and group violin lessons under the mentorship of pedagogy professor Susan Kempter, and she also received her Books 1-10 Suzuki Teacher Training and certification. In addition, she performed with several ensembles including with the UNM Undergraduate String Quartet at the 2017 John Donald Robb Composers’ Symposium.
Originally from Las Vegas, Nevada, she began studying violin at the age of 5 with Carroll Berns and later studied at the Nevada School of the Arts with Jennifer Hellewell and Mary Straub. After graduating, she returned to Las Vegas and assisted with the nationally renowned Cashman Middle School orchestra program. She also taught at the Nevada School of the Arts, where her students participated in solo and ensemble, the district honor orchestra, and the Nevada All-State Orchestra.
After moving to Houston in August, Ms. Kelley began teaching private violin/viola lessons for Humble ISD and has coached upper strings at several middle and high schools. She was also an assistant orchestra director at Woodcreek MS during the 2021-2022 school year, where she led the Camerata to a UIL Sweepstakes award.