John Zirkle is the Founding Director of the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center, an internationally-award winning composer, and a nationally-honored music educator. Under John’s leadership, WMPAC has hosted over 200 programs to more than 50,000 patrons in a town of less than 3,000 full-time residents. As the key development officer for WMPAC, John has raised over $6 million for the arts in Montana by establishing strong relationships with public funding entities, private foundations, and individual donors. In his tenure at WMPAC, John has served as an expert panelist for the Montana Arts Council, the Cultural and Aesthetics Projects Committee for the Montana State Legislature, the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF), and the National Endowment for the Arts. He currently serves on the boards of the the Montana Performing Arts Consortium and Arts Northwest.
As an artist, John finds most of his inspiration from collective music-making. In 2008, he traveled independently for a year in Eastern Europe studying vocal ensembles and choral organizations in Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Estonia as a Thomas J. Watson Fellow. He holds certificates from the International Summer Academy of Music in Ochsenhausen, Germany and his composition teachers include Jan Jirasek, Ofer Ben-Amots and David Hykes. The highlight of his musical theater background was working alongside Emmy award-winning music director Michael Kosarin and Oscar award-winning composer Alan Menken on Disney on Broadway’s “The Little Mermaid.”
Since 2010, John has also been an active force on the local arts scene, directing, facilitating and producing over 60 theatrical and music performances with multiple organizations, several of which he has helped found from the ground up. A graduate of Colorado College, John is passionate about excellence in the arts and is grateful he can pursue both of his great loves—performing arts and outdoor recreation—in beautiful Big Sky.
Director of Operations & Marketing
Cara Wilder is the Director of Operations and Marketing, where she manages ticketing, scheduling, care and maintenance of the multi-use theater facility, hospitality services for all its guests, and creative marketing for WMPAC.
Originally from the Bay Area, Cara grew up in Bozeman, and her passion for live performance includes over 25 years of area theater-making. After earning an MFA from the National Theater Conservatory in Denver, she performed in theater and film projects in New York and Los Angeles. She returned to Bozeman in 1995 to create local art as a producer, director, actor, and teacher. Cara has collaborated with a variety of arts organizations, including the Ellen Theater, Verge Theater, Broad Comedy, the Museum of the Rockies, and Bozeman Actors Theater, which she co-founded in 2009, among others. Most recently, she produced and directed Tony Kushner’s epic “Angels In America, Part 1: Millennium Approaches” at the Emerson Crawford Theater, and she continues to act in film, television, and the stage.
As an Assistant Professor, Cara taught acting at MSU and Gallatin College for over 10 years, from Beginning and Advanced Acting to Acting for Film and Theater Production. Other related experience includes marketing, development, commercial radio, and emceeing nonprofit events such as Pecha Kucha.
At WMPAC, Cara directed the Community Theater favorite “Howl” in 2019, and participated in past summer residencies. She’s been a fan of WMPAC’s creative programming and state-of-the art facility since its inception, and is thrilled to help the team usher the organization into its next decade! When not immersed in creating and supporting live performance, she enjoys exploring the natural beauty of southwest Montana, hiking with her two dogs, gardening, and viewing our breathtaking sunsets.
Rikka is the Communications Manager at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center. She grew up in Maine and is a writer by trade, having worked in the publishing world and as a freelance writer for several years after graduating from Carleton College. She went on to earn a Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction Writing at the University of Montana in Missoula, where she was named the Tim O’Leary and Michelle Cardinal Prose Scholar.
It was in graduate school that she first fell in love with Big Sky, taking advantage of the academic calendar to work here seasonally. She then spent three years teaching literature and writing at international semester schools in Switzerland and the Bahamas, but found that she couldn’t stay away from Big Sky, returning as often as she could to ski, hike, and write in the Montana mountains. She is thrilled to move to Big Sky full-time this year, and looking forward to being part of the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center’s seminal work.
Jeremiah began his career as a location sound engineer on various films and commercials. In 2002 he started Jereco Studios, Inc. designing his first commercial recording facility, and in the spring of 2010, he founded a second Bozeman, Montana recording facility, Peach Street Studios.
Today, Jeremiah is responsible for producing and engineering Post Production Sound, Live Sound, Music Recording, and Location Sound for many shows and events both nationally and regionally. In 2010, Jeremiah was appointed the Audio Director of the 11th & Grant with Eric Funk music television series on Montana PBS. By 2011, Jeremiah earned his first Emmy Award for Audio for his work on the 11th & Grant TV series. Jeremiah has since earned seven Emmy Awards.
A graduate of Montana State University – Bozeman, Jeremiah continues supporting, working, and teaching at the institution. Jeremiah is faculty and Technical Director at the School of Music and instructor at the School of Film & Photography. He teaches Entertainment Business, Sound for Film & TV, Multimedia Audio Production, Recording 2, and a graduate level sound class for the Science & Natural History Filmmaking’s MFA program.
Jeremiah is – A member of the Board of Governors for the Northwest Chapter – National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. A mentor for the Recording Connection. An active member of the Audio Engineering Society [AES] and the Recording Academy [Grammy Awards].
Jeremiah enjoys skiing wherever there is fresh powder, trout fishing in his childhood backyard of the West Boulder River, driving big trucks, and listening to music of all kinds.