First Coast Wind Ensemble Conductors

Artie Clifton


Artie CliftonArtie Clifton is associate professor of music at Jacksonville University, where he teaches courses in music education and performance and conducts the wind ensemble and chamber winds. He holds degrees from Stetson University and the University of Cincinnati, and has done post-graduate study at New York University and Brooklyn College.

Mr. Clifton has taught band, chorus and orchestra in public schools in Orlando and Winter Park, Florida. From 1979-81, he was Music Director and Conductor of the Ocala (FL) Festival Orchestra and Assistant Conductor of the Florida Youth Symphony Orchestra.

From 1981-89, Mr. Clifton was Director of Instrumental Ensembles at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. There he conducted collegiate wind and jazz groups, and theatre orchestra productions. He was the recipient of two merit awards for outstanding teaching and four faculty research grants. Professional conducting activities (1982-89) included the Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre Festival Orchestra and the Muhlenberg Chamber Ensemble, a professional group that produced a concert series featuring chamber winds repertoire. He was also principal clarinetist of the Pennsylvania Sinfonia Orchestra, whose activities included a 1987 compact disc recording with keyboardist Anthony Newman on the Newport Classics label.

Mr. Clifton is a Buffet Group USA Performing Artist. As a clarinetist, he maintains an active performance schedule that includes recitals and chamber music, and he has been a member of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra since 1990. In addition to clarinet and bass clarinet, he has played soprano, alto and tenor saxophone with the JSO.

Mr. Clifton has served as a conductor of the First Coast Wind Ensemble since he co-founded the organization in 1990. The 60-member group provides an admission-free annual concert series as a cultural service to Northeast Florida. Under his leadership, the ensemble has produced three CDs and a DVD and has established a guest composer series and a concerto competition for high school musicians.

Mr. Clifton has produced and directed the Jacksonville Private Schools Honor Band at JU since 1993. This annual young artist program supports music education by providing talented high school students an opportunity to study and perform quality music literature in a university setting.

Mr. Clifton serves as a guest conductor and adjudicator in music festivals, and is a member of several professional music organizations and honorary societies.

Don Zentz

Associate Conductor

Don ZentzDon Zentz has been the Director of Fine & Performing Arts at The Bolles School in Jacksonville since 2003.  Previously he served as the music director for the St. Johns River City Band.  Don has held music professorships at the University of North Florida, Valdosta State University, and Florida Community College at Jacksonville.  Prior to collegiate teaching, he was a high school and middle school band director in the public schools of Georgia and Florida where his programs earned superior distinction in all areas of band media.  As an honor graduate of Valdosta State University (B.M., M.M.E.), Don has been recognized by his alma mater as an Outstanding Alumnus for professional achievement in music and education.  He has received a number of teaching awards throughout his career including DownBeat’s Jazz Education Achievement Award, UNF’s Outstanding Undergraduate Professor Award, and a TIP Award from the Florida Board of Regents for Excellence in Teaching.

Don is very much in demand as a player, adjudicator, and clinician in both traditional and jazz idioms.  His diverse musical capabilities reflect a personal attraction to all styles of art music – from Beethoven to Bird.  He has directed the All-State jazz bands of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Maine, and also the Delaware All-State Symphonic Band.  During the 1990’s, Don served as the jazz studies coordinator, music department chair, and wind ensemble director for the Georgia Governors Honors Program.  As a saxophonist and woodwind doubler, he plays many of the off-Broadway shows that travel into Florida.  He has performed numerously over the years with the Jacksonville Symphony and has appeared in concert with such notables as Dave Brubeck, Ray Charles, Natalie Cole, Nancy Wilson, Doc Severinsen, and Lou Rawls.

Don has been a Keilwerth Saxophones - Buffet Group USA performing artist and clinician since 1995.  His career reveals a deep commitment and passion for both the teaching and performing of music.