Blue Sky at MAT Camp Faculty

Sara Gunnell

Fiddle, Violin/Viola


As a performer and teacher, Sara Law Gunnell has had a fun, varied, and impressive history.  Highlights from her education include a Bachelors of Music in violin performance from USU and a Masters of Music in Violin performance and pedagogy with an emphasis in Viola from Ohio University.  During her training she worked extensively in chamber music studies and on the side started fiddling with Celtic, Old-time, Scottish, Appalachian, and even Country Music.  Yes! She CAN play “The Devil went down to Georgia” but she can also play the Sibelius Violin Concerto.  Her teaching career includes nearly 20 years of private lesson instruction, directing orchestras in one capacity or another consistently throughout that time.  She has taught for the MWSA, Brevard Summer Music School, Athens Community Music School, Thomas Edison Charter School, Logan City School District, Utah State University, and currently works as an Adjunct professor at Snow College in Utah.  As a performer, Sara is regularly sought after as a free-lance violinist performing with orchestras throughout Utah.  She also performs extensively as the fiddler in the band Leaping Lulu.  Highlights from her performing career include working for the UFOC and the American Festival Orchestra and Chorus, playing live on KRCL – FM radio as well as UPR Public Radio, collaborating with the Inishfre Irish dancers for 10+ years creating the show “Celtic Night”, and producing 4 CD’s with Leaping Lulu (available on Pandora, CDBaby, and itunes).  Sara is a mom with 3 rambunctious children under the age of 5 and loves every minute.  They all just have to listen to a lot of violin,viola, and fiddle.

Derik Nelson



singer, songwriter, producer, audio engineer.

Derik is popularly known as the lead guitarist on FOX’s hit TV show, “Glee.”  His singing voice is heard on FOX’s “Raising Hope” and “New Girl,” CBS’s “How I Met Your Mother,” and NBC’s “Go On” and “The Voice.” Bachelor of Science from University of Southern California, where he helped to shape the curriculum that became the Popular Music Degree program. Awarded the Brian Wilson Music Scholarship for songwriting and received first place in the Indie International Songwriting Competition for his original song, “The Way It’s Gonna Go.”


Colin Botts

Mandolin, Banjo, Guitar


Colin Botts is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, and as a former Capitol Records-Nashville recording artist, has performed on radio, television, and live in hundreds of venues, both across the United States and internationally.  Recently Colin was featured on the guitar, banjo, and mandolin with the Utah Symphony. He has a degree in guitar education and is a passionate and dedicated teacher. He has had the privilege to teach and lecture in a variety of settings, from university classrooms to private lessons, as well as music camps and festivals. Additionally, Colin is co-author of Mel Bay’s Killer Technique: Flatpicking Guitar. Music has taken Colin around the world, having studied guitar from gauchos in Argentina, concertina and bouzouki from traditional musicians in Ireland, and fiddle from gypsies while traveling through Romania. In 2013 Colin was awarded a masters degree in Irish Traditional Music Performance from The University of Limerick, Ireland. In addition to his busy teaching schedule, Colin regularly travels and performs with a variety of artists and groups as well as working as a studio musician and multi- instrumentalist.

Sam Runolfson

Cello, Bass

Samuel graduated from Weber State University with a Music Education degree and The University of Utah with a Master’s in Cello Performance. Classically he has performed throughout Northern Utah as a soloist and as chamber musician most often with the Piano Trio, Tria Fata. He has performed as a soloist with the Weber State Symphony Orchestra and as prinicpal cellist of that Orchestra and the New American Philharmonic. The ensemble Tria Fata were most recently National Finalists in the MTNA Chamber Music Competition. Samuel was also recoginzed by Weber State with a Crystal Crest Award for his performance and contributions as a student. He has also performed and taught in Haiti as a volunteer professor. Alternatively, Samuel began his non-classical adventures with an eclectic ensemble consisting of viola, cello, hand percussion, harp and the mission to play jazz and blues.  There was much joy and sorrow, as well as some awesome gigs and lots of original compositions and arrangements. Since then Samuel has been on a journey of discovery in the world of non-classical Cello composing, arranging, performing and teaching fiddling, jazz and blues all over the Wasatch Front. Samuel’s first experience with folk music was actually on upright bass where he learned the intense and often understated importance of I, IV, V, I. Though his bass playing is occasionally surrounded by mystery when it surfaces it is a force to be reckoned with. Samuel is currently seeking a Master’s Degree in Cello Performance from the University of Utah.


James Arbizu



James currently holds a masters degree in orchestral conducting from Brigham Young University where he guest conducted the BYU Symphony Orchestra and Co-Conducted for a Laycock Center for Creative Collaboration in the Arts Grant for New Chamber Music.  He has conducted many youth orchestras and community orchestras including the Lincoln Youth Symphony, the Nebo Youth Philharmonic, various clinicians and the Star Valley Messiah Orchestra and Choir. He currently holds the post of Orchestral Director for the SaltRiver Symphony Chorus and the Evanston Community Orchestra.

For his undergraduate studies, James received a baccalaureate degree in Music Education from Weber State University. As a teacher, he directed the Star Valley High School Bluegrass Band who played 20-30’s a year, professionally recorded 2 CD’s and received perfect scores at adjudications every year during his tenure.

Over the past decade, James has performed with various groups both classic and bluegrass. This year he  performed over 100 times as  lead fiddle of the Bar T 5 Band.

Tara Johnson




Tara Johnson, choir director for the Salt River Symphony Chorus in Star Valley WY is a native to Utah, Tara grew up in Centerville. She received the gift of piano lessons for her fourth birthday and began receiving awards for her original compositions at age five. Tara developed a love for performing country music while taking guitar as a young teen and began singing with her guitar teacher at local restaurants. Since then she has been hooked on performing for live audiences! She has performed with LDS artists Kenneth Cope and John Bytheway. She has composed several pieces for original LDS musicals, one of which was performed at the LDS conference center in Salt Lake City. Tara moved to Star Valley in 2004 and accompanied the choirs at Star Valley High School in Afton, WY from 2005-2011. She has also directed several SVHS musicals, including Joseph & the Technicolor Dream Coat, Bye Bye Birdie, My Fair Lady, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and The Sound of Music. For the past 16 years Tara has taught voice and piano lessons. She has directed several church and community choirs including “Valley Voices”, a local children’s choir and the Star Valley choir that performs Handel’s Messiah. Tara is the proud mother of three children.


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