Artistic Leadership


Eric Mahl joins the Western Connecticut Youth Orchestra beginning this season as Music Director and conductor of the Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Mahl is a musician who believes in the transformative powers of music above all else. His hope is to provide meaningful, enriching and educational musical experiences to as many people as possible. Under the belief that the study of music is essentially an exploration of the human condition, and that classical music is infinitely beneficial for every human, he strives to cultivate an appreciation and understanding of music played with the highest possible level of artistry.

Mr. Mahl currently serves as a conductor of the Greenwich Village Orchestra in New York, NY. His past positions include assistant conductor to the contemporary music ensemble Orchestre 21 in Montreal QC and the Urban Playground Chamber orchestra in New York, NY, conductor of the Fredonia Symphonia, cover conductor for the Orchard Park Symphony in Buffalo, NY, and assistant to all orchestral and operatic activities at SUNY Fredonia in Fredonia, NY. He has had guest conducting experiences with the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, Greenwich Village Orchestra and Urban Playground orchestra, and the university orchestras of  the College Conservatory of Music (CCM), Orchestra de l’Universite de Montreal, and SUNY Fredonia. Mr. Mahl’s dedication to contemporary music is evident in his many collaborations and commissions with professional and student composers, including the world premieres of fully staged operas, experimental ballet, and countless small and large ensemble pieces of all genres. As part of his position with Orchestre 21, Mr. Mahl was selected to act as assistant for the world premiere of Debussy’s newly finished opera, Le Diable dans le Belfroi.

Mr. Mahl received his Bachelors of Music in Education from Ithaca College and continued his studies both at l’Universite de Montreal and the State University of New York at Fredonia, where he received his master’s degree.  He has studied with some of the foremost conducting pedagogues in the United States including Harold Farberman, Neil Varon, Marc Gibson, Larry Rachleff, Don Schleicher, Jean-Francois Rivest, Paolo Bellomia, and Joeseph Gifford. He has participated in workshops and competitions in the United States, Canada, the Czech Republic, at the Eastman School of Music, College Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati and Bard College.  Mr. Mahl’s Primary instrument is the trumpet, although he is well-schooled in all the orchestral instruments. He continues to perform in orchestral, jazz, and chamber music settings. Mr. Mahl is an outdoor enthusiast, and accomplished cook, and an avid runner.

Eric Mahl’s website

Justin Elkins joined the WCYO as Conductor of the String Ensemble in 2012.  Justin, a Wyoming native, began playing the cello in the fourth grade. He completed his junior and senior years of high school at the prestigious Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, and then went on to complete his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in cello performance at the renowned Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York where he studied with distinguished professor of cello Alan Harris. Following graduation, Justin has had an active musical career. In addition to his performances in the Elkins Duo with his wife Marija, a pianist, he has also served as cellist of the North Dakota String Quartet and performed solo concertos with the Cloud Peak Symphony of Wyoming and the Missouri Valley Chamber Orchestra of North Dakota. Justin is currently a regular performer in the Norwalk Symphony, and has also performed with the Greater Bridgeport Symphony. Justin is also a devoted music educator. He served on the faculty of the Talent Education Suzuki School in Norwalk, CT where he was head of the cello department and also taught extensively through the K.E.Y.S. (Kids Empowered By Your Support) program, a non-profit organization that sends professional musicians and teachers into Bridgeport Public Schools to teach students one-on-one and in groups during the school day. The Elkins Duo has also performed in numerous house concerts throughout the area to raise money to help fund the K.E.Y.S. program. Justin is currently the Orchestra Director at Trumbull High School, where he also teaches music theory.

Justin Elkins’ website

Albert Montecalvo joined the WCYO as conductor of the Wind Ensemble in 2010 for the ensemble’s inaugural season.  Al retired from the Carmel, New York School District in 1998 where he taught for thirty years.  At Carmel, he was director of middle and high school bands as well as K-12 Director of Music.  Al has performed as percussionist with many local orchestras including the Ridgefield Symphony, Chappaqua Orchestra and Danbury Symphony, and has played drums and percussion with various theater groups including the Downtown Cabaret Theater, Seven Angels Theater, Musicals at Richter and TheaterWorks in New Milford.  He also performs with the Sonny Carroll Big Band, the Norm Hathaway Orchestra and the Berkshire Big Band.  Al was an adjunct music professor at Western Connecticut State University for five years where he taught music education courses, supervised student teachers and conducted the WCSU Symphonic Band.  He has also been the Director of the Summer Band Program for the Danbury Music Centre for many years and conducted numerous musicals at Ridgefield High School.

Past Conductors

Jonathan Schiffman

Ridgefield Symphony Youth Orchestra (now WCYO Symphony Orchestra) – 2003

Ankush Kumar Bahl

Ridgefield Symphony Youth Orchestra (now WCYO Symphony Orchestra) – 2003-2006

Suzanne Corey-Sahlin

Ridgefield Symphony Junior Orchestra & WCYO String Ensemble – 2005-2012