Artistic Leadership

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Eric Mahl joined the Western Connecticut Youth Orchestra in the fall of 2016 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


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.


Tristan Rais-Sherman is the recently appointed Conductor of the West Connecticut Youth Orchestra String Ensemble. He also has recently been named Artistic Director and Conductor of the Hilltop Music Collective in Greenwich, CT. Tristan has become one of the most sought after young conductors in New York/Connecticut area, and is becoming known for his vivid and thrilling music-making. This August, he appeared as part of the Kaufman Music Center’s Summer String Fest at Merkin Concert Hall. In early 2017, Tristan appeared as a Guest Conductor with the Chelsea Symphony in New York City, and was a finalist with both the Naples Philharmonic and the Memphis Symphony Orchestra to become Assistant Conductor and Music Director of their respective Youth Orchestras. He previously served as Assistant Conductor and David Alan Miller Fellow of the New York Youth Symphony from 2015-2017. Tristan recently performed as part of the Lamont Conducting Workshop in Denver, CO and the Aurora Festival in Vänersborg, Sweden. He is passionate about creating inspiring musical experiences for people of all ages, from 6 months to 60 years, and beyond.

Tristan graduated from the University of Michigan with a Master’s degree in Orchestral Conducting as a student of Kenneth Kiesler in 2015. While in Michigan, he served as Music Director of the Michigan Pops Orchestra—the United States’ oldest collegiate Pops orchestra, and one of Ann Arbor’s most cherished musical organizations. Under his direction, the orchestra performed a wide variety of music—ranging from Mendelssohn and Prokofiev to Game of Thrones and Video Games Live. He performed with the University Symphony and Philharmonia Orchestras on the stage of Hill Auditorium, and served as Assistant Conductor of all active ensembles. He led premieres of music by Keith Allegretti, Sam Saunders and organized a performance of music by Brahms, Haydn, and Rameau. Since completing his graduate studies at the University of Michigan, Tristan has been a Conducting Fellow at the Dartington International Summer School in the UK, and participated in the Seventh International St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic Masterclass with Alexander Polishchuck and Sian Edwards in September 2015.

 Tristan Rais-Sherman’s website


Past Conductors

Petko Dimitrov

WCYO Music Director & Conductor of the Symphony Orchestra – 2006-2015

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