Instructional & Design Staff

VIPE 2020

2020 Instructional & Design Staff

Biographies are below.

Mark Gowman, director

Vince Pastore, front ensemble

Sam Carr, front ensemble

Joe Palomaki, battery

Melissa Mesic, battery

Elizabeth Gowman, battery (cymbals)

Jake Everett, visual

Rachel Hucko, choreography & more

Book by Vince Pastore & Joe Palomaki

Drill design by Patsy Vankirk


MARK GOWMAN is the percussion caption head for the marching arts program at Victor High School and director of the Victor Indoor Percussion Ensemble. Since joining the program in 2014, Victor Percussion has won the WGI World Championships bronze medal (PSA), three New York State percussion championships, been a 4-time WGI regional finalist, won two WGI regional championships (PSA), and has won the NYS field band championship and two Bands of America regional Class AA championships as part of the Victor Marching Blue Devils.

Mark is also the instrumental music director and fine arts department head at East Rochester High School, where he has led the instrumental program since 2001. At East Rochester, he directs the award-winning ER Jazz, the Wind Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, and Róisín Dubh, the school's nationally-recognized Irish music program. He is honored to have received the East Rochester PTA's Distinguished Service Award.

Mark holds degrees in music education and performance from the Eastman School of Music and the University of Michigan, where he played in the snare line. He regularly presents professional workshops on music education, Irish music, and marching percussion. These include numerous sessions at the Eastman School of Music, Boston University, and other collegiate music schools; five workshops and one featured performance at the NYS state music education conferences; and the Music Educators National Conference.

In addition to his instructional work, Mark currently serves as president of the New York State Percussion Circuit, and is a signed endorser for Salyers Percussion. He is a former member of the WGI Percussion Advisory Board, and is the proud father of three current and former Victor percussionists.

VINCE PASTORE teaches the front ensemble at Victor and is the front ensemble arranger for the 2020 indoor program. His marching experience includes 2 years with Carolina Gold Drum and Bugle Corps, 2 years with the James Madison University Marching Royal Dukes, 5 years with the George Mason University Indoor Percussion Ensemble, and 4 years with The Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps. He has also been a member of Downbeat Percussion and the Buffalo Bills Stampede since 2018.

Vince had the honor of serving as drum major for The Cavaliers for his age-out season in 2016, and also performed in PASIC as part of The Cavaliers' percussion clinic in 2013. In his time with George Mason Indoor, he was a WGI Open Class gold medalist in 2012, a WGI World Class finalist in 2013, and served as the front ensemble section leader in 2013 and 2014.

The addition of Vince to VIPE staff in 2016 was essential to the development of the front ensemble and the success that ensemble had on the state, regional, and world levels.

Vince grew up in Richmond, VA and graduated from James Madison University with a degree in chemistry. He is currently pursuing a PhD in chemistry at the University at Buffalo. When he's not doing band or science, he likes exploring outdoors, finding good food, and playing with his dog, Lorelei.

ELIZABETH GOWMAN is in her third year as cymbal instructor for Victor High School. Liz played on the cymbal line at the University of Michigan, and has served as cymbal tech and percussion instructor for numerous high school marching programs. She holds degrees in music education and music therapy from the University of Michigan and Immaculata University, and has been the music teacher at St. Louis School in Pittsford for 13 years. She has developed the St. Louis music program into the strongest and most diverse in the diocese, with a band, orchestra, 50-member glee club, 40-piece percussion ensemble, popular music showcase events, and much more.

A Victor graduate who was part of the Marching Blue Devils' first-ever state championship, "Mama G" has also served as front ensemble instructor with the field band for the past two years.

JOE PALOMAKI is entering his third year working with the battery at Victor High School. A 2010 Victor graduate, Joe is a charter member of the Victor Indoor Percussion Ensemble and was a part of many of VIPE's "firsts"— first performance, first NYS championship, first regional competition, and first trip to world championship finals. Joe also won two state championships with the Marching Blue Devils.

While still in high school, Joe also performed with the bassline of the 2009 and 2010 Empire Statesmen Drum & Bugle Corps, and won the DCA Individual & Ensemble competition with "The Empire Bassmen".

Joe attended Miami University in Oxford Ohio, where he played on both the snare and quad lines and served as section leader. He also performed on the bass line with the WGI Independent World Class ensemble Matrix. While at Miami, Joe also began to study the steel pan. As a pan artist, Joe has performed in many ensembles and with many professional pan musicians, been featured in recordings, and performed for the Percussive Arts Society International Conference (PASIC). In 2016, Joe travelled to Trinidad and Tobago to perform in Panorama, the largest Pan competition in the World, where he played with the PCS Nitrogen Silver Stars through preliminary rounds and into the Panorama Finals.

In addition to his work at Victor, Joe has also worked with the marching percussion programs at Kettering High School near Dayton, and Deer Park HS in Cincinnati.

RACHEL HUCKO is thrilled to be back with VIPE for her third season on staff, where she has enjoyed fulfilling roles in choreography, front ensemble, and dramatic coaching. Rachel is an award-winning choreographer, having choreographed 20+ musicals, show choirs, and movement for drama. She trained in a variety of dance disciplines for 15 years before moving to choreography. As a dancer and musician, Rachel strives to integrate musical elements through movement. All of her choreography supports and contributes to the musical design creating a cohesive picture. A graduate of Victor and the field band program, Rachel has been teaching vocal/general music in middle schools for the last nine years. Her choirs have performed around the country, winning top awards in competition, including first place in mixed and treble ensembles at Festival Disney. She is currently enrolled as a full-time doctoral student, earning an Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction. Rachel lives in Victor with her husband and six-year-old daughter.

SAM CARR is in her second year as front ensemble instructor for Victor High School. A graduate of East Syracuse Minoa HS, Sam is a junior at Nazareth College and has performed as center vibraphone with White Sabers Drum Corps. In her short time with Victor, Sam's work has been essential in developing the skills of our young musicians so that our 1st- and 2nd- year members — most still in junior high — are competitive with any front ensemble in New York State.

Battery tech MELISSA MESIC is a music education major at Nazareth College, where she performs on both percussion and cello. A bass drummer with Downbeat Percussion and the Buffalo Bills Stampede Drumline, Melissa got her start at Liverpool High School, where she played in the battery for both marching band and indoor percussion. She has previously served as a battery and visual instructor with East Irondequoit Indoor Percussion. In addition to her musical pursuits, Melissa is on the rowing team at Nazareth.

JAKE EVERETT is a graduate of Jordan-Elbridge High School, where he participated for 7 years in the JE marching band, and four years with the indoor percussion ensemble. Jake played trombone in the all-county symphonic band and orchestra, as well as the New York All-State and All-Eastern Honors Bands. After high school, Jake studied music education at Onondaga Community College and Ithaca College. Jake is very active in the drum corps and brass band community, and has performed with the Empire Statesmen, the Edge "Mini" Corps, Brig Juice Brass/Mini Corps, The Hitmen Brass Band, Easy Money Big Band, and the White Sabers Drum & Bugle Corps.

As an instructor, Jake has worked as a visual tech at Horseheads High School, Jordan-Elbridge High School, and then as visual coordinator for the JE indoor percussion ensemble. He is in his second year as brass instructor for the Victor Marching Blue Devils.