Music Faculty

Dr. Diana Amos
Music Program Coordinator
Assistant Professor of Voice and Musical Theater
DMA and MM, University of South Carolina
BM, Oberlin Conservatory of Music
Diploma, Hochschule fuer Musik, Cologne, Germany.
Dr. Diana Amos has performed over sixty leading roles on the stages of thirty-five European opera companies. Career highlights include the role of Queen of the Night in Mozart’s The Magic Flute at the Berlin State Opera, Olympia in The Tales of Hoffman at the Semperoper in Dresden and at the Cologne Opera, Gretel in Hansel and Gretel in Luxembourg, and Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos at the Staatsoper in Hannover, Germany. After joining the Bielefeld Theater in Germany, Diana Amos was presented with the North Rhine Westphalia Young Artist Award in Dusseldorf. Her appearances as featured soloist include Carmina Burana at the Berlin Philharmonic, concerts with the Cologne Radio Orchestra, the North West German Philharmonic, the Bielefeld Philharmonic, and the Hannover Johann Strauss Orchestra. She has performed in recitals and in oratorio concerts throughout England, Germany, and the United States. Dr. Amos sang the role of Zemire in Gretry’s Zemire and Azor with the Houston Grand Opera. She was the soprano soloist in Brahms’ German Requiem with the South Carolina Philharmonic, Miss Havisham in Miss Havisham’s Wedding Night, the Fairy Godmother in Massenet’s Cendrillon, and Martha in Martha with Opera at USC. Dr. Amos performed the role of Lucy in Menotti’s The Telephone with Donald Portnoy, conductor, at Piccolo Spoleto, in Charleston, S.C., in Brevard, N.C., in Aiken, S.C., and with the USC Symphony at the Koger Center for the Arts.

Aletha Jacobs

Piano, Jazz Combos Ensemble, Applied Jazz, and Music Theory. Aletha Jacobs is a 1997 University of South Carolina graduate with an M.M. in Jazz Studies. She began teaching at Columbia College (’78 BA Music Education/ Choral/ Piano) in 1998.

As a professional musician for 40 years, Aletha Jacobs has performed in every kind of venue, from playing/singing in bands, accompanying various musicians and musicals, to performing with orchestras. She has toured the Mediterranean and Central America, performing for our troops. Famous people with whom she has shared the stage include John Pizzarelli, The Shirelles, The Drifters, and Freddy Cole. Aletha Jacobs is also the director of Carolina Alive at USC.

She has recently written an etude book for intermediate piano with an emphasis on beginning improvisation, entitled “Rockin’ Around the Keys,” and has been a guest artist at CMTA’s Jazz and Improv festival for the past several years.

USC’s Carolina Alive, The Sandlapper Singers, and North Texas summer camp have performed her jazz choral arrangements. New charts and performances are in the works.

Recent studies include an intensive week of jazz vocal study with the New York Voices at Bowling Green State University.
As a member of JEN and MTNA, she is a dedicated teacher who enjoys bringing out the artist in every student.


Paula B. Wilson
Columbia College Choir, Columbia College Chorus, and Hi-C’s.

Paula Wilson has a Master of Music degree from Florida State University and a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia College, S.C. She is a music educator with degrees in music education, vocal performance, and choral conducting. Paula Wilson joined the faculty at Columbia College in 2011 and continues to be in demand as an adjudicator and clinician at conferences, festivals, and seminars. She served for twenty-seven years as an Elementary Music Specialist in Richland School District Two in Columbia, South Carolina, where she had the honor of being named District Teacher of the Year. Serving as the Director of Music Ministries at Trenholm Road United Methodist Church has afforded Mrs. Wilson the unique opportunity of conducting choirs of all ages, from pre-school to senior citizens. Her choirs are frequently invited to perform for all types of state and regional gatherings; and the Sanctuary Choir has toured internationally, presenting concerts in Israel and Italy in December 2004 and in Greece in June 2006.

J. Aaron Hardwick
Columbia College Chamber Orchestra

James “Aaron” Hardwick has established a reputation as an outstanding conductor, setting himself apart with his engaging, charismatic, and musically precise approach on the podium. He currently serves as the conductor of the Columbia College Chamber Orchestra in Columbia, S.C. and cover conductor for the Aiken Symphony Orchestra.

Hardwick has worked with orchestras across the United States and is in demand as a guest conductor and clinician. Maestro Hardwick served as assistant conductor for the University of South Carolina Symphony Orchestra and conducted the Brevard Philharmonic, Rochester Philharmonic, and Aiken Symphony Orchestras. His mentors include Dr. Donald Portnoy, Neil Varon of the Eastman School of Music, Neil Casey, Jorge Richter, Anthony Maiello, Paul Vermel, Maurice Peress, Peter Jaffee, and Samuel Jones. In 2016, he was invited to conduct the world premiere of a rescoring of the silent film “The Cabinet of Dr. Calagari” with the CICA (Collaborations in Contemporary Art) Ensemble. He was invited to conduct the Xibus World Tour with the Turtle Island String Quartet in 2012, and conducted a premiere work by jazz pianist/composer Ben Rosenblum in concert at Jordan Hall, MA.

In addition to his conducting career, Mr. Hardwick is recognized as an award-winning educator and guest clinician/conductor with youth ensembles across the country. He served as a conductor of the Bay Youth Orchestras of Virginia from 2011 to 2015 and as Director of Orchestras at Frank W. Cox High School in Virginia Beach from 2007 to 2015, where he was recognized as “Outstanding Music Educator.” The Virginia Symphony Orchestra named Mr. Hardwick as one of Hampton Road’s “Most Outstanding Music Educators” in 2015 and recognized him as a “Favorite Music Teacher” in 2014. He was nominated by The Grammy Foundation® and The Recording Academy® as a quarter-finalist for the Music Educator Award in 2014. Hardwick was one of 50 teachers in the nation to be honored by Yale University in 2011, receiving the Yale Distinguished Music Educator’s award.

Mr. Hardwick is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Orchestral Conducting at the University of South Carolina. He earned a Master’s Degree in Orchestral Conducting from the University of South Carolina and a Bachelor’s Degree in Music with honors from East Carolina University. He studied viola with Ara Gregorian, Nicholas Cords, and Karen Huey, and continues to perform with the University of South Carolina Opera, USC Symphony Orchestra, Brevard Philharmonic, and Aiken Symphony Orchestras. Mr. Hardwick lives with his amazing wife and son in Columbia, SC.

Adjunct Faculty:

Pam Tellejohn Hayes
Instructor of Violin, is nationally recognized for her work in the field of music education as an orchestra teacher, author, clinician, consultant, and conductor. Mrs. Hayes is the recipient of both the Merle J. Isaac Lifetime Achievement Award from NSOA and the Elizabeth A.H. Green School Educator Award from ASTA. She has served as president of the National School Orchestra Association, the South Carolina Music Educators Association, the Orchestra Division of SCMEA and the South Carolina chapter of the American String Teachers Association. Mrs. Hayes is co-author of the comprehensive method book series Essential Elements 2000 for Strings and a violinist with the South Carolina Philharmonic. She earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Wichita State University, a Master of Education degree in Educational Administration and an Education Specialist certificate in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of South Carolina.

Tom Brunson
Instructor of Voice. A native South Carolinian, Tom Brunson received the Bachelor of Music degree from Converse College and the Master of Music degree from the University of South Carolina. In addition to his position at Columbia College, he is Director of Music at Mt. Hebron United Methodist Church in West Columbia, instructor for Lexington School District Two’s Gifted and Talented Voice Performance Class, and maintains a large private voice studio. Students of Mr. Brunson are consistent winners at state and regional NATS Auditions, and many continue their careers as professional musicians and teachers in public schools and at the college level. As a performer, Mr. Brunson has had leading and supporting roles in Don Giovanni, Rigoletto, La Perichole, The Devil and Daniel Webster, Amahl and the Night Visitors, The Sound of Music, and The Music Man. Oratorio roles include Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Rossini’s Stabat Mater, and Schubert’s Mass in G.

Allison Hilbish
Staff Accompanist. After earning and Associate of Arts degree from Anderson Junior College, Allison received her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the University of South Carolina. She was the 1988 regional piano performance winner of the Music Teachers National Association competition, and has performed with the USC Symphony Orchestra. Allison is currently the Pianist for Saint Andrews Presbyterian Church in Columbia and the accompanist for the Palmetto Mastersingers, also here in Columbia.

Ashley Horvat
Instructor of Violin. A native of Columbia, South Carolina, Ashley Horvat began studying violin at age three. Mrs. Horvat holds a Masters degree in Violin Performance from the University of Akron, a Bachelors degree in violin performance from the North Carolina School of the Arts, and a high school diploma with a focus on violin performance from the North Carolina School of the Arts. Mrs. Horvat has also studied chamber music with the Tacaks Quartet and the Mendelssohn Quartet. She has won many awards in and around the Southeastern United States, including the Young Artists Competition in South Carolina, The Upton Foundation Scholarship, a four-year scholarship program at the North Carolina School of the Arts, and was the North Carolina Federation of Music Clubs state winner for 2000 and 2001. She has also been teaching assistants at both University of Akron and North Carolina School of the Arts. Presently, she is Associate Concertmaster of the South Carolina Philharmonic and a contract player with the Augusta Symphony. Mrs. Horvat is on the violin and viola faculty at Columbia College and the Palmetto Center for the Arts. She also maintains a very exclusive private studio at her home. She is a very active solo and chamber musician and gives frequent recitals and guest appearances throughout the year. When she is not busy with her music, she loves photography, gardening, animals, cooking, and spending time with her husband, Damir.

Alan Knight
Instructor of Guitar, MM in guitar performance, University of South Carolina, 1992, and BA, University of New Orleans, 1987, is in his 19th year as adjunct at Columbia College in Columbia, SC. He also maintains a full-time studio at the Carolina Music Academy. He is currently President of the Columbia Guitar Society and an active performer in the area . His performances include concerts with the Sandlapper Singers and solo and duo concerts in Columbia and Aiken, SC. Sound of Two, his CD was released with duo partner, Jeff Harris in 2001. His article, “Doing Classroom Guitar Right” was published in South Carolina Musician, Volume LVI, No. 1

Robyn Doherty
Instructor of Flute, obtained a Bachelor of Music Degree from The University of SC in 1988. While there she studied flute under Dr. Constance Lane and was awarded a “Performance Certificate” in Flute. She performed as Principal and Co-Principal Flutist with the USC Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble and Orchestra! She also held the 3rd flute/piccolo position with the SC Philharmonic Orchestra from 1986-9188. After graduation Mrs. Leadbitter joined the US Air Force where she performed as Principal Flutist with the USAF Field Band at Travis Air Force Base, CA until 1992. While in California she had the opportunity to study flute with Jeffrey Day and Lloyd Gowan of the San Francisco Symphony Orch. as well as Isabelle Chapius of the San Jose Opera Orchestra. Upon returning to the Columbia area in 1992, Mrs. Leadbitter opened a private studio teaching middle and high school flutists and began an active career in free-lance work. Currently she is the Adjunct Professor of Flute at Columbia College, Principal Flutist with the Palmetto Concert Band and a member of the Goodwinds Wind Quintet. She is also frequently in demand as a performer for church services, weddings, receptions, with chamber groups and choral societies and orchestras throughout the state. Mrs. Leadbitter resides in Blythewood with her husband and son.

Mary Ann Watson
Instructor of Cello, received her formal music training from the University of South Carolina, Southwest Missouri State University, and the University of Akron. As a professional cellist, Mrs. Watson has performed with various organizations throughout the United States, has served as principal cellist with the South Carolina Philharmonic for many years and performs regularly with the Greenville Symphony, Charlotte Philharmonic, Spartanburg Philharmonic and other area ensembles. In addition to performing, Mrs. Watson teaches cello and bass, has co-directed the Homeschool Strings program since its inception in 2002, and serves as adjunct string faculty at Columbia College.

Frances M. Webb
Instructor of organ, earned a bachelor’s degree in piano pedagogy from Coker College. She then spent two years at Indiana University studying with Sidney Foster and completed a master’s degree in piano performance. She enjoyed a 36-year teaching career at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas where she taught applied piano and piano literature. She was one of the founders of the Young Pianist Competition held each spring at the university. Her performance specialty was accompanying both faculty and students. During her time in San Marcos, she was organist and music director for St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. Upon retirement in 2006, she returned to her home state of South Carolina. In her retirement she serves as the accompanist for Columbia Choral Society and is in demand as a substitute organist for many Columbia area churches. She is a board member of the American Guild of Organists.