Staff

ROBERT SOTO

Low Brass Staff

Low Brass Staff

Trombonist and Educator Robert Soto is a native of El Paso, Texas. Robert has been active as a professional musician and teacher for the last twenty years, having performed and taught across the United States, Mexico, Canada, England and Brazil. He has worked with such artists as Sir Neville Marriner, Dave Taylor, Gary Foster, Brad Leali, Bill Reichenbach, Tito Puente Jr, Dave Brubeck, Alan Silvestri, Eric Nathan and Frank Ticheli to name a few. Robert has also recorded/performed with a variety of groups including the El Paso Wind Symphony, Long Beach Symphony, Golden State Pops Symphony Orchestra, Clare Fischer/Brent Fischer Jazz Group, Elliot Deutsch Big Band, Conjunto Oye and on the IFC series Comedy Bang, Bang! He has performed with the Yale Philharmonia at the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Hungarian Revolution at Carnegie Hall in NYC, Birmingham and Wigan Jazz Festivals in England, the International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE) convention, the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) convention and the Music for All National Festival and Summer Symposium.

 

As a featured soloist, Robert has performed at the Texas Tech Big XII Trombone Conference, with the El Segundo Concert Band, Fullerton College Symphonic Winds, Southern California Trombone Day, and the William H. Taft Wind Ensemble. Robert has been in demand as a freelance trombonist, private instructor, conductor and guest clinician. He has worked with a variety of music programs ranging from beginning bands, middle school/high school ensembles, college/university groups and community bands. Mr. Soto has been a member of the Western Band Association, Southern California Scholastic Band Orchestra Association, International Trombone Association, and the Texas Music Educators Association. His students and ensembles have received numerous recognitions from scholarships to leading university music programs to consecutive festival and UIL sweepstakes awards. Robert has presented clinics at

TMEA and serves as an active adjudicator in Region 29/Area H. In addition to his program work, Robert has served on the brass staffs for: Chino Hills High School, Ruben S. Ayala High School, Blue Knights, Sacramento Mandarins, Cavaliers, Boston Crusaders and The Battalion Drum & Bugle Corps. Robert holds a Bachelor in Music Education (Cum Laude) from the University of Texas at El Paso and a Master in Music Performance from Yale University, School of Music. He has studied trombone with Scott Hartman, Steve Norrell, John Lofton, Steve Wilson, Allan Kaplan and Robert Melendez. His conducting studies were with Dr. Ron Hufstader and Maestro Toshiyuki Shimada. In 2013, Robert was selected as a performer for the Pokorny Low Brass Seminar, where he studied with members of the Los Angeles, San Francisco, Detroit and Chicago Symphony Orchestras. Robert has served as the trombone faculty at Fullerton College, Cal Poly Pomona University, and as Director of Bands at Norte Vista High School, El Segundo Middle School/High School.

 

Currently, Robert is one of the Associate Directors of Bands at William H. Taft High School in San Antonio, Texas. He also serves as the low brass instructor for Schreiner University in Kerrville, TX. Off the podium, Robert devotes his time with his beautiful wife April, their children Camila and Alexander, and their furry kids too. Mr. Soto is excited to be returning to Blue Knights as a member of the brass instructional staff. Mr. Soto is a performing artist for Yamaha Corporation of America and performs on Yamaha trombones exclusively.

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Ken Adams

KEN ADAMS

Mark Arnold is one of the longest-serving Directors in Drum Corps International, serving as Executive Director of the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps since 1985 and as CEO of Ascend Performing Arts since 2010.

Under his leadership the Blue Knights organization has developed into one of the premier Drum and Bugle Corps in the history of the activity, recognized Internationally for excellence and innovation in the performing arts. Through the years the Blue Knights has expanded its programing and now serves thousands of young musicians and performers annually in multiple performing ensembles, events and educational programs under the umbrella of the Ascend Performing Arts.

In addition to shaping the course of Ascend Performing Arts, Mark also has played an integral role in the ongoing development and successes of Drum Corps International as a collective. He served as chairman of the DCI Board of Directors in 1994 and again from 2008 to 2013. Mark was honored as Corps Director of the Year in 2004, and was the inaugural recipient of the George Bonfiglio Chairman’s Award at the 2012 DCI World Championships, which is given to an individual each year who demonstrates extraordinary leadership and service on behalf of DCI and its performing drum corps.  Mark was inducted into the DCI Hall of Fame in 2014 and the Blue Knights Hall of Fame in 2019.

Prior to his position with the Blue Knights, Mark was the Assistant Director of the Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps from 1978 through 1983, serving alongside Director Jim Jones, one of the founders of Drum Corps International and an inaugural member of the DCI Hall of Fame.  Mr. Arnold has a degree in Music Education from the University of Wyoming and taught High School Music in Wyoming and Nebraska from 1979 through 1985.
Mark Arnold

MARK ARNOLD

Scott Factor has served on the Ascend Performing Arts Board from 2012 to 2018 as a voting member in various positions including Vice-Chairman. Since 2019 my role has been in an Advisory position.

Outside of Ascend Performing Arts i am Senior Account Executive for Baxter HealthCare.
Scott Factor

SCOTT FACTOR

I am currently an Ascend Board Member-at-Large.  I have been a volunteer with the Blue Knights since 2013.  I have been serving on the BoD since 2019.  I retired from the United States Postal Service in 2010.  Although I have never marched drum corps I am an avid fan of the activity and thoroughly support our members in any way that I can.  “We Go On”!!! 

Neil Corvino

NEIL CORVINO

Board member Kathy Black is an attorney in New Mexico practicing as a full-time litigator focused on employment and civil rights defense. She came to the law as a second career after twenty-five years in high tech with NCR Corporation, doing everything from operating systems programming to Vice President positions in engineering, customer services, and sales. She earned her JD from Lewis & Clark Law School and her BA from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Ms. Black is active as a percussionist in the Albuquerque area. Way back in 1978 she marched with the Guardsmen, including at DCI Finals in Denver.  After many years of being just a drum corps fan, she was elected to the Drum Corps International Board of Directors in January 2016 and served on that board until January 2022, including three years as chair. 

Kathy Black

KATHY BLACK

Bryant’s path to the Ascend Board of Directors, which began in 2021 as a member-at-large, traces back to his childhood. Watching the Reading Buccaneers senior drum corps practice near his grandparents’ home ignited a lifelong passion, and a student of all thing’s percussion.

Years later a family move to Colorado provided Bryant with a platform to display his passion, both on the stage with the nationally acclaimed Green Earth Percussion Ensemble and on the field as a snare drummer with the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps until his age-out year in 1984.

In his professional career as the Senior Director of Strategic Accounts at Yokohama Tire Co., Bryant credits the principles instilled by the marching arts and years on tour for his success. On a personal level, the arts played an even larger role, where Bryant met his wife, Stephanie. The Rankin’s currently make their home in South Carolina, enjoying time with their grown children, two incredible grandchildren, and their beloved brown lab, Zoey.
Bryant Rankin

BRYANT RANKIN

Retired, Director, Office of Research and Analysis, Colorado Department of Revenue Ms. Archibeque served 26 years in the area of statistical analysis for the Colorado Department of Revenue and Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. Her skills in this area assist the board in developing a strategy for statistical analysis in the area of program evaluation. She has also been a significant volunteer managing and working with volunteers for the organization and will assist the board in understanding the complex nature of the organization. Her personal experiences as a minority and female can inform and promote a more inclusive environment and agenda for the projects that the board supports.

Janet Archibeque

JANET ARCHIBEQUE

Rob Batchelder was appointed to the Ascend Performing Arts Board of Directors in May 2023, and currently serves as Vice Chair. As a member of the Senior Foreign Service, Rob has represented the United States overseas in India, Poland, Germany, Argentina, Nicaragua, Jamaica, and Namibia during a diplomatic career spanning nearly 30 years. He currently serves as Managing Director for Visa Services in the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs in Washington, DC. Rob marched in the Blue Knights hornline in 1987 and 1988, and he was Drum Major in 1989. He and his family live in Alexandria, Virginia, but his heart still yearns for Colorado.

Rob Batchelder

Rob BATCHELDER