BOARD OF DIRECTORS
NINA FLANIGAN, M.A., President
At age 10, I convinced my parents that a piano was needed in our home and I began lessons. Later that year, I discovered my mother had played the clarinet in high school and we got it out of the attic for me to play with the school band in fifth grade. Without private clarinet study, I wasn't sure how to create the sounds that I heard and loved in the Grand Canyon Suite that we listened to and studied at school. But then In ninth grade, the band director spoke to me about learning the bassoon since no one was playing it in our high school band. I loved its deep voice and got babysitting jobs to pay for adding bassoon lessons to my life. My teacher Sonia Seslar inspired me and I was very diligent learning to play quickly since I already read bass clef.
I continued improving and discovered orchestra at age 16 when my bassoon teacher invited me play second with her in the Defiance College Orchestra. We traveled the 50 miles from Ft. Wayne, Indiana on Tuesday nights with other musicians going to fill out the sections. Spending time with all of them gave me much joy, laughter and learning and I decided I too wanted to teach music and play bassoon.
I have never stopped playing since I began this love affair with the bassoon almost six decades ago. I majored in bassoon and received a teaching degree from Ball State University. Upon moving to the Detroit area in 1967, I began playing with the Detroit Womens' Symphony, played 25 years with the Dearborn Symphony and played with other community groups as needed.
I obtained a Masters' Degree in Early Childhood Education from Marygrove College and a 30 hour administrative certificate from MSU. I taught music at all levels including elementary, middle school in Detroit and high school in Southfield. The last nine years of my 30 year career I was an elementary principal retiring from Southfield Public Schools in 2003.
Both of my children enjoy music as an avocation playing violin and cello. I continue to work as a Student Teacher Supervisor in music at Oakland University and direct a Handbell Choir at University Presbyterian Church. Playing chamber music has been part of my weekly life since 2008 and it compliments my performances in the Detroit Medical Orchestra and Spectrum Orchestras where I play first bassoon.
NOLAN O'HARA, M.S., Vice President
Nolan is an MD-PhD Student at Wayne State University, currently conducting research in neuroimaging and pediatric epilepsy disorders. He has played viola with the DMO since 2016. Playing music has been an important outlet during his medical education, and the DMO provides the perfect environment to appreciate how musical engagement can benefit the wellbeing of patients and nonpatients alike in his future.
Nolan currently serves as Vice President. He has previously served as President of the Student Board.
ASHLEY D'AGOSTINO, Secretary
Ashley is an undergraduate at Wayne State University dual majoring in Biological Science and Japanese and has played viola for 21 years. She works as a bartender at Temple Bar Detroit, a laboratory technician at Functional Fluidics LLC, and does academic hematological research in the Hines Lab through the Wayne State University School of Medicine. She also enjoys sewing, bike riding, running with her dog Pancake, and lounging around with her cats, Louie and Bandersnatch.
SYDNEY SCHAAF, Treasurer
Sydney Schaaf is a Design & Release Engineer at Ford Motor Company responsible for Exterior Lighting Systems (headlamps, tail lamps, etc...). She has been the principal flutist for DMO since 2013. In addition to making music with the Detroit Medical Orchestra, Sydney is also a member of the Michigan Flute Orchestra and the Ford Motor Company Chorus. Sydney studied under Dr. John Bailey at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she received her B.A. in Flute Performance.
Sydney acts as DMO Treasurer.
MICHAEL L. CHER, M.D., Student Board Faculty Advisor
I was fortunate to grow up in a very musical family in terms of both playing and appreciating classical music. I’m very proud of my own two boys, both of whom are accomplished violinists and have played several concerts with the DMO. My brothers and their kids are musicians, so our idea of a family reunion always seems to involve a lot chamber music. I’ve had the opportunity to play in many orchestras over the years, including medical orchestras in other cities. I love getting to know good music, and I enjoy playing in the Detroit Medical Orchestra and Spectrum Orchestra here in the Detroit area. I’ve also had the chance to play chamber music with many very talented friends and colleagues.
My "day job" is urologic oncology. I am Professor and Chair of the Department of Urology at Wayne State University and Chief of Urology at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute. I have the privilege of caring for patients, performing cancer surgery, teaching medical students and residents, and participating in research projects and clinical trials.
I began playing the trumpet in fourth grade as part of the Royal Oak Schools Instrumental Music program. In seventh grade I switched to the Horn. I then played through high school and college at Michigan State University where I studied with Dr Douglas Campbell. I was in Symphony Band, Marching Band, opera orchestras, brass choir, a woodwind quintet and eventually the MSU Symphony.
After graduation, I did not own a horn so I did not play for twenty years until my then ten-year-old son began the horn in the Berkley Schools Instrumental music program. Now I had a horn to play, and I eventually purchased my own horn and began playing regularly in community bands and orchestras.
After retiring from my “day job” as an outside technician for AT&T, I now spend a good deal of my time with several groups of which the DMO is my favorite.
Even though I am not involved in the medical arena, I support the DMO’s mission wholeheartedly.
My mom studied piano as a child but had to give it up when she went to college. She got herself a piano when I was 8, thinking that with her youngest child in first grade she would have time to get back into practicing. Instead, after several months of enduring my enthusiastic but cacophonous improvisations, my parents found me a piano teacher, and I studied classical piano and cello, which I started a year later, through high school.
My college career started in math, but I missed playing music and transferred to Berklee College of Music to try to learn to improvise and to focus on music. After returning to Detroit, I completed a Master's degree in Music Improvisation in 1995, and have been a private piano teacher and freelance musician and piano tuner since then. Dr. Cher's invitation to join the DMO gave me a perfect reason to pick up my cello which had been languishing under the piano for years. It has been a great experience in many ways, and anyone who is thinking of joining the DMO definitely should!
My dad taught Anatomy at the WSU Medical School for 36 years, and I like to think of my participation in the DMO as being partly in his honor. He was not a musician, but was one of the greatest listeners and appreciators of music I have met. I'm sure he would have been delighted with the idea and the reality of the DMO. My mom taught in the WSU Anthropology Dept. for 50 years. She has not missed a DMO concert since I joined the orchestra.
SAMANTHA WUNDERLICH, CTRS, CBIS, CZT
Samm Wunderlich, CTRS, CBIS, CZT is a Recreational Therapist servicing the greater Metro-Detroit area. She holds certifications/trainings as a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS), Certified Brain Injury Specialist (CBIS), Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT), Trained Soul Collage Facilitator, and a Mandala Assessment Research Instrument Practitioner.
As owner and contractual recreation therapist at WunderRec Therapy, Samm strives to help all people increase mental, emotional and physical health through expressive, intuitive and cognitive arts. While Samm specializes in community reintegration for brain injury survivors, she enjoys helping all people, regardless of ability and age, find joy and optimum health through the creativity.
Samm is thrilled to have joined the DMO in 2015, where she plays oboe and English horn, exercising her own creative healing through music.
DANISH ALI, M.S.
Danish Ali is currently a graduate student pursuing his Master's Degree in IT Management at Oakland University in Rochester, MI. Danish has been part of the music scene in the Metro-Detroit area for several years now. He is very active with various chamber ensembles, and has performed with various community orchestras in Michigan and Georgia, most notably the Oakland Symphony Orchestra and the Ludwig Symphony Orchestra. Danish was also one of the charter members and principal violist of the Oakland University Chamber Orchestra, an ensemble he still performs with regularly. He joined the DMO as principal violist since 2016.
Danish has been on the board since 2018 and is currently the chair of the Chamber Collage Concert committee.
Gabby Bray has played in the viola section of the DMO since 2016, and joined the Board of Directors during the 2018/2019 season, shortly after graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wayne State University. She has experience playing in various community and student organizations, including the Wayne State University Symphony Orchestra, and playing in smaller ensembles, including participating in the DMO’s annual Chamber Collage concert. She currently serves as DMO Ensemble Librarian.
Christine Searle is a masters student in Robotics at the University of Michigan. Prior to returning to school, she was a software developer for General Motors. She began playing the cello with her school orchestra in fourth grade and continued throughout her undergraduate studies. She has been playing with the DMO since 2014.
Christine currently serves as DMO Webmaster.
JOAN BLAIR, J.D.
Joan is a retired state of Michigan Civil Rights Attorney with a B.A. from the University of Michigan, a master's in Urban Planning from Wayne State University and a J.D. from the Detroit College of Law. In addition to playing violin with the DMO, she performs with a variety of community groups and theaters.
Dominic has been playing cello since he was barely 7 years old, and although his career didn't take him into music full-time, he has never gone far from his musical roots. Throughout high school he was extremely active in orchestras, music camps, gigs and competitions--both locally and out of state--which nearly led him to pursue a path in cello performance. However, as college refined his passions and career aspirations, he quickly realized that healthcare was the field he was cut out for. Even so, while working toward his undergraduate degree in Natural Science/Mathematics at Oakland University in Rochester, MI, Dominic continued to participate in music events, teach cello and serve as principal cellist for the university chamber orchestra.
Science finally took the driver's seat in when Dominic was accepted into the Pathologists' Assistant program at Wayne State University in Detroit. Although he had to stop taking private lessons one semester into the program, Dominic was determined to make time in his schedule for both parts of his heart--science and music. Upon graduating with is laboratory PA degree from WSU, he was already looking for ways to get back involved with his musical side, and was very excited when the opportunity arose to join the Detroit Medical Orchestra. The orchestra strives for a mission that Dominic personally feels strongly about--bringing healing through music--and he is honored to play great classical music alongside so many other fantastic musicians and healthcare professionals. Dominic has been with the DMO since 2017 and is currently serving as the Public Relations & Marketing chair.
Stephanie is a supplier quality engineer at Ford. She also is pursuing an MBA at the University of Michigan. She has been playing the cello since age 10. Her favorite part about playing in the DMO is performing in a large ensemble. Stephanie has served on the board since 2019, where she is the Corporate Donations Chair. In her spare time, she likes to bake and read.
Sebastian Pernal is a MD-PhD Student at Wayne State University, currently completing his second year of medical school before transitioning into the research years. He has played violin with the DMO since 2018 and joined the DMO Board in 2019. In his spare time, Sebastian enjoys playing the piano, composing his own music, and cooking various cuisines. He would like to bring his accordion from Chicago to Detroit and practice more, but is afraid of the ruckus he would create for his neighbors.