Mr. Freebern attended the University of Massachusetts, Amherst on a Chancellor's Talent Scholarship for four years of study in music education. He graduated receiving the highest departmental award, the Lebow Scholar, and then began his teaching career as a High School Instrumental Music Teacher in Bennington, Vermont.
He was later recruited to serve as a Graduate Assistant for the Director of Bands at UMass, receiving a Masters Degree in music education with an emphasis in conducting. During this time he served as the conductor of the UMass Youth Wind Ensemble and was the adjunct professor of trumpet and brass methods at Keene State College in New Hampshire. Neil and his wife Julie taught music together in Colorado and later returned to Massachusetts to resume his work with the UMass Youth Wind Ensemble program.
His success on the podium led to annual engagements as a festival conductor across New England, conducting several district festivals, honor bands and a five summer engagement as the conductor of the United States Youth Wind Ensemble, touring Europe. Over the next decade, he taught instrumental music in the Berkshires at Wahconah Regional High School, where his music program received a Grammy Signature School award for outstanding curriculum in addition to the highest ratings at festivals. Dedicated to bringing music to the community, he has been the conductor of several community ensembles and served as the executive director and founder of the Public Arts Resource Center, dedicated to bringing cross-generational arts opportunities to the community. He has been recognized on several occasions for his outstanding contributions to the field of education, having received outstanding educator awards from the Western District Music Educators Association, Central Berkshire Regional School District, Yale University, and recently the Roland Faculty Chair at his current school Burr and Burton Academy. He currently continues to expand arts offerings for the students at Burr and Burton as the Chair of the Creative Arts Department, advancing blended learning practice and the use of technology in the classroom. In addition, he is an adjunct instructor of Trumpet at Castleton State College in Vermont and performs regularly throughout New England on Trumpet and Jazz Piano.
Julie Freebern received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Eduction from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, graduating Summa Cum Laude with a full tuition Chancellor’s Talent Scholarship for clarinet performance. She has been the director of vocal music for the Moffatt County School System in Craig, Colorado, Quabbin Regional High School in Barre, Massachusetts, Wahconah Regional High School in Dalton, Massachusetts, and currently teaches music history, music theory and vocal music at Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester, Vermont.
In 2007, Julie received the Distinguished Music Educator Award from the Yale School of Music and was the recipient of the Burr and Burton Academy's Bigelow Fund for Excellence Faculty Grant affording her the opportunity to study Castles and Cathedrals of Medieval England during the summer of 2008. Her love of history and travel has inspired her to lead group tours throughout Germany, Italy, France, The Netherlands, Belgium, England, Austria, Switzerland, The Czech Republic, Scotland and Turkey. Her choirs have enjoyed collaborations with composer Christopher Tin, performing twice at Lincoln Center and a world premier at Carnegie Hall under the direction of Jonathan Griffin, Distinguished Concerts International New York.
Julie won a trip to Ireland through the American Choral Director’s Association Eastern Division Conference and completed a two week residency with On Campus Ireland during the summer of 2016. She was recently honored by Burr and Burton Academy with the 2017 Rowland Faculty Chair Award which helped to support her studies in recorder, voice and early notation at the Amherst Early Music Festival in New London, Connecticut. She currently plays clarinet with the Sage City Symphony Orchestra, sings with Northshire Voices and performs Early Music with the Equinox Consort on various Renaissance and Baroque Recorders.