SMART Orchestra Staff
Manuel Arambula has taught string and wind students at the junior high, high school and university level. A native of South Texas, Dr. Arambula became interested in music at a young age. He began his piano studies at the age of 6, and affiliated himself at the secondary levels in the orchestra and band where he earned many distinctions as a performer. Graduating Magna Cum Laude from McAllen High School, Dr. Arambula knew that music was his calling. His professional trajectory has taken him across the states of Texas and California. He has taught both band and orchestra, including a teaching assistantship at Texas Tech University. A supporter of fine arts, Dr. Arambula has been involved with community musical organizations in the South Texas and Lubbock areas. He holds a Bachelor of Music Education (Summa Cum Laude) and a Master of Music in Instrumental Performance from the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, a Master of Music in instrumental conducting and a Doctorate in Musical Arts in instrumental conducting from Texas Tech University. Highly grateful for his journey, Dr. Arambula is thankful for the numerous mentors and students who have developed his love for music. When not engaged in his musical interests, Dr. Arambula is an avid collector of classical historical recordings, reading books in history and spending time with his dogs.
Assoc. Artistic Director
Charmaine Flake started playing piano at age 5, and spent most of her childhood in Wichita Falls, TX, where she studied piano under the tutelage of Dr. Ruth Morrow. Charmaine continued taking from Dr. Morrow while an undergraduate at Midwestern State University and also studied voice from Dr. James Schuppener for 2 years. At the age of 20, she graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor’s of Music in Keyboard Performance. While in Wichita Falls, Charmaine was actively involved in the community. She was a pianist and solo vocalist at Liberty Baptist Church for 7 years, performed in different musicals such as Oklahoma! and Two from Galilee with the Wichita Theatre, was the music leader for Vacation Bible School at Emmanuel Baptist Church for 2 years, and participated in music services at local rest homes. She started teaching piano at age 16, and maintained her students, as well as taught at the First Baptist Church Academy of Fine Arts, until she and her husband moved to the Austin area in 2010. Since then, Charmaine has been accompanying and coaching vocal students at Texas State University and the surrounding areas. She became a piano and voice instructor at Lone Star School of Music in Austin in 2012 and taught there for over 2 years until moving to Curious Chords Music Studio in Kyle in 2015 to be closer to home. Along with teaching, Charmaine has had the opportunity to be rehearsal pianist and music director at local theatres, including Austin Playhouse and ZACH Theatre. She was also an active member and pianist for the Austin-based organization One Ounce Opera from 2013-2017. Two kids later, Charmaine now stays at home with her boys, Lochland and Josiah. She currently teaches piano from her home, plays for the Lehman High School choirs and band students, and continues to take on side gigs as a freelance musician.
Board of Directors
Jeremy Sustaita has performed as a SMART Orchestra clarinetist since their 9th season and is currently serving his 4th consecutive season as the SMART Orchestra’s board president. He is also the SMART Orchestra’s principal clarinetist. He began playing clarinet in the SMCISD over 26 years ago and studied under Mr. Gordon Sabin in high school and Dr. David Pino at Southwest Texas State University. He has also taught clarinet lessons privately and for private schools for several years. Outside of SMART, Jeremy is a licensed personal lines insurer for one of the top three Insurance companies in the United States, and currently holds 16 state licenses. Aside from performing in several community wind ensembles, he also began composing arrangements for friends and fellow musicians/educators, his clarinet students, as tailored teaching resources, and has even commissioned several works in the last 7 years. In addition to composing arrangements for chamber ensembles in many previous SMART Sessions Recitals, Jeremy also recently wrote his first complete orchestral arrangement—Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me”, which was debuted by the SMART Orchestra in our season 11 Pops Concert: A Tribute to Motown.
VP of Membership
Kathy Melde has been with the SMART Orchestra for 3 seasons as a violist. She joined in the Fall of 2018 after meeting Chris Hanson, the founder, who encouraged her to join. She enjoys the community of musicians and the impact on the San Marcos Community. Kathy started her journey with the viola in 4th grade and played through 10th grade. She would periodically pick the viola up throughout her adult life with her parents’ and husband’s encouragement. In 2017, 1 year prior to joining the SMART orchestra she picked the viola up yet again. As VP of Membership, her goal is to help every orchestra member to feel connected to the group and have an enjoyable experience playing in SMART.
VP Community Relations
Kwin Lara (bio coming soon)
Kayla McGuire joined SMART Orchestra for their 10th Season in the fall of 2018. She began playing violin in her hometown Amarillo, TX, in her public school orchestra in the fourth grade. She continued her music education through Amarillo’s public school system until her family moved to the Rio Grande Valley. Thanks to her amazing grandparents who paid tuition so she could attend a school out of her district which had an orchestra and thanks to her father’s encouragement, she was able to continue playing in her public school while living in the Valley. Kayla then attended Texas State University where she took violin lessons for the first time in her life. At Texas State she was able to explore several different music genres and ensembles including chamber, mariachi, improvisation, and musical theater. Life took Kayla in a direction away from music for about 9 years until she joined the SMART Orchestra. Now, she is excited about making music with other musicians and getting reacquainted with her instrument as an adult learner who is navigating her own music education through trial-and-error and a healthy dose of YouTube tutorials. She believes in the strength of community and the power of music to speak to people of all backgrounds and is ready to help reinforce and invigorate SMART Orchestra’s community ties.
DJ Castilleja started with the SMART Orchestra in 2021 as a very talented section leader for our french horn section. He has been playing french horn since 1992 where I learned in Middle School. A few words from DJ: “What I love about performing in an orchestra is the multi-faceted art form that it is. First is the art of writing a piece of music that someone dedicated heart and soul to compose, sometimes taking months or years. Then each individual performer gets a piece of the big picture and has to be an artist in their own parts with their own instruments. All the individuals then come together to form one big piece of art in the performance all done in real time by the leading of a conductor.
Member at Large
Cathy Stoughton is currently in her third season with the SMART orchestra. She is a native of San Marcos, TX, and a 1993 graduate of SMHS, where she served as the principal trumpet player and as the trumpet section leader from 1990-1993. She also placed as a member of the All-Region band where she had the opportunity to represent SMHS. After graduation and upon receipt of softball and music scholarships to Texas Lutheran University she continued her education and is about to begin her 23rd year of teaching, 19 of which have been at SMHS, where she is the head softball coach and teaches geometry. She recently began her pursuit of a master’s degree in mathematics. Cathy is excited to have this opportunity to pursue her passion for music with such an amazing organization and the wonderful people of which it is comprised. She is married to Craig, and they have two children, Cailyn & Cayden.
Member at Large
Augustine Chavez (bio coming soon)
Texas State Interns (Coming soon)