M. Janice Mitchell, President
Susan Rankin, Secretary
Alicia Hallock Meryweather, born and raised outside of New York City, relocated to Knoxville immediately upon receiving a BSN from the University of Kentucky. She works at UT Medical Center as a peri-operative nurse. She grew up playing the guitar and singing in a church choir, but transitioned to the cello as an adult, only 14 years ago. Although this was quite a challenge, she loves learning and taking lessons from Mathew Wilkinson. She always wanted to play in an orchestra and started 8 years ago in the Maryville College Orchestra. Then, Alicia became one of the four founding members of Scruffy City Orchestra.
When not working in surgery, or practicing cello, Alicia enjoys coordinating and teaching in a Bible home fellowship, working with teens at The Boys and Girls Club, playing tennis, running and biking. “I love Scruffy City Orchestra because we are a thriving community of musicians and more importantly, friends. We support each other and work well as a team, under the direction of our conductor Ace Edewards. Being with this group of musicians… is for me…a dream come true.”
Ahsia Spencer, a native of Virginia, moved to Knoxville in 2013 and has been a member of the Scruffy City Orchestra since its origination. Upon graduating high school, he went on to play in the Army band. Currently, he serves as clarinet section leader and drum major for the 29th Army Band, Army National Guard, in Virginia. Ahsia’s educational background includes the Army School of Music in Norfolk, Virginia where he studied bassoon, Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Virgnia for Music Education (clarinet) and Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, Tennessee where he received his masters in Educational Leadership.
Along with serving on the Board of Directors as the librarian for the Scruffy City Orchestra, he is an elementary music teacher and assistant band director with Knox County Schools. When Ahsia is not with the orchestra or at work, he is a Zumba instructor along with being a program-builder and choreographer for colorguards in marching band and drum corps spreading from Virginia to Alabama.
Melissa McCoy was fortunate to learn to read music and play the clarinet in eighth grade and from there obsessively tackled bass clarinet, piano, guitar, harp, saxophone, oboe and bassoon with varying degrees of success. Despite an early career as an anthropologist, then later in the publishing world, she never lost sight of music, playing in small groups, community bands and orchestras as much as possible over the years. Currently, Melissa plays bass clarinet in Scruffy City Orchestra, usually on the second bassoon part, but is hoping to be able to actually play her bassoon in public without terrifying people someday! As the publicist for Scruffy City Orchestra, Melissa is responsible for “getting the word out” to the media about SCO concerts and events. In addition, she is chairman of SCO’s annual Concerto Competition and manages the auditions for the 2-day competition that takes place every spring. Melissa is also co-founder and secretary of the Tennessee Valley Ensemble, a 25-year-old community band with a focus on bringing music to people who can’t get out to hear it, playing about a dozen concerts every year in facilities such as nursing homes and hospitals. She also performs with other area musical groups. Since 2004, Melissa has been the Marketing Director for Nisus Corporation, a green pesticide and wood preservation manufacturer in Rockford, Tennessee.
Ace Edewards has recently begun a second vocational adventure as the producer and host of the Afternoon Concert on Knoxville’s public radio station: 91.9 FM WUOT.
As a conductor, Ace Edewards is known for his passionate lyricism and scholarly informed programming. Recent engagements include performances with Opera Grand Rapids, MI, Victory Hall Opera, Charlottesville, VA, and cover conductor duties for the 2018 Winter Festival at Sarasota Opera. In the city of Knoxville where he resides, Dr. Edewards has conducted critically acclaimed productions of Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors, Pasatieri’s La Divina and Moore’s Gallantry with Marble City Opera, and worked as assistant conductor for Knoxville Opera’s production of Boito’s Mefistofele. In three seasons as assistant/cover conductor for Opera in the Ozarks, Edewards conducted performances of Le Nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, La Cenerentola, La traviata, Pagliacci, and Il tabarro. After conducting its premiere, Ace was invited to lead Alfonso Molina’s opera Illegal Alien at the Festival Alfonso Ortiz Tirado in Àlamos, Sonora, México. Dr. Edewards was a finalist in the 6e Concorso Internazionale Per Direttori d’Opera “Luigi Mancinelli” in Orvieto, Italy, with Verdi’s Il trovatore as repertoire. Other conducted works include productions of Carmen, L’ivrogne corrigé, La canterina, Die Zauberflöte, Così fan tutte, La bohème, Die Fledermaus, La traviata, and a reprise of Marble City Opera’s production of Amahl and the Night Visitors.
As a symphonic conductor, Ace Edewards is the founding conductor of the Scruffy City Orchestra, a community ensemble in Knoxville, TN. From very humble beginnings, this ensemble has grown quickly in size and ability and in November 2019 joined the Cathedral Concert Series at the beautiful Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. In his programming, Edewards is committed to creating performances that are enjoyable as well as educational. As a guest conductor, Ace has led performances with the Civic Orchestra of Tucson, the Sierra Vista Symphony, and the Summerville Orchestra.
As a choral conductor, Dr. Edewards is the Music Director at the First Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Oak Ridge, TN.
A fluent French speaker, Ace created French Diction for Singers, a series of videos to help those singing Mélodies. As soon as he finds time in his busy schedule, he plans on expanding the list of videos to include more titles as well as opera arias.
Edewards earned his doctorate in orchestral conducting at the Fred Fox School of Music in Tucson, AZ, where he conducted the Arizona Symphony Orchestra and led the University of Arizona Philharmonic. At the Lamont School of Music in Denver, CO, Ace Edewards concurrently earned a dual emphasis masters in vocal performance and choral conducting, and an artist diploma in orchestral conducting. While at Lamont, he directed the first student-led production of a chamber opera/musical; led the first vocal chamber ensemble to win the university’s chamber competition; and was awarded the Leon Guide Outstanding Conductor Award and Frank Toth Memorial Award by the music faculty. Ace was also the Mark Sheldon Conducting Intern with the St. Martin’s Chamber Choir, Denver’s only professional choir.
Edewards is an accomplished vocalist, having earned a Master of Opera from The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, in Glasgow; pursued postgraduate studies in voice at Le Centre d’études supérieures de musique et de danse in Toulouse, France; and graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Music in vocal performance from the California State University in Sacramento.
As the son of missionaries, Ace grew up in France, where he received his Baccalauréat Série Scientifique with honorable mention.
Ace currently lives in Knoxville with his wife Ruth, a violinist in the Knoxville Symphony and Suzuki violin teacher. Together, they love trying new restaurants, cooking new recipes, and hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains. They enjoy life with their two aptly named orange Tabbies: Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings.