Artistic Leadership

053115_WCYO_374_Low-ResSMEric Mahl

Maestro Eric Mahl is the Music Director/Conductor of the Western Connecticut Youth Orchestra. He also serves as the Conductor and Artistic Director of OrchestraOne, Associate Conductor of the Greenwich Village Orchestra, and Music Director/Conductor of Philharmonia Orchestra at Third Street Music School, and the Orchestra at Turtle Bay Music School. 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. Mahls’ past positions include artistic director of the New Jersey Young Artists Ensembles, the Harmony Program North Orchestra, assistant conductor to the contemporary music ensemble Orchestre 21, in Montreal QC, Urban Playground Chamber Orchestra in New York, New York, Conductor of the Fredonia Symphonia, cover conductor for the Orchard Park Symphony in Buffalo, NY, assistant to all orchestral and operatic activities at SUNY Fredonia, in Fredonia, NY, and assistant to orchestras at Universite de Montreal. He has had guest conducting experiences with the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, Ridgefield Symphony, New Amsterdam Symphony, Greenwich Village Orchestra, The Chelsea Symphony, 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. He was also selected from over 100 applicants to participate in the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music Conducting Workshop, where he worked closely with Marin Alsop and James Ross. His composer in residence program at the WCYO has accounted for four commissions and world premieres for Orchestra and Wind ensemble, as well as the performance of countless contemporary works throughout the season.

As a passionate educator, Mr. Mahl has personally taught all ages and instruments at a public and private schools throughout the five boroughs of New York City, and frequently works with student musicians from under-served communities. As a firm believer that music can provide a transformational experience for any child regardless of background, he attempts to engage and inspire students from as many cultural and geographic backgrounds as possible through community engagement activities such as free lectures, workshops, and concerts in addition to working with student orchestras.

Mr. Mahl also firmly believes that classical music is for everyone, and that art is an important and necessary vehicle to spur empathy and the understanding of one another, regardless of background. To that end, he continually strives to engage the communities that surround his orchestras through lecture series, interactive workshops, partnerships with other local non-profits and other engagement and educational activities. It is his goal to expose the humanistic meaning behind great works of art, to tear down any and all barriers between the audience and performers and to make everyone feel welcomed and accepted into a symphonic concert.

Mr. Mahl received his Bachelors of Music in Education from Ithaca College and continued his studies both at 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 Marin Alsop, James Ross, 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 schooled in all orchestral instruments. He continues to perform in orchestral, jazz, and chamber music settings and most recently made his Opera Debut with a production of La Cenerentola with the Geneva Light Opera Company in Geneva, NY. Mr. Mahl is an outdoor enthusiast, an accomplished cook, and an avid runner.

Albert Montecalvo

Albert Montecalvo joined the WCYO as conductor of the WCYO Wind Ensemble in 2010 for the ensemble’s inaugural season. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Music Education from Western Connecticut State University and his 6th Year Professional Diploma in School Administration and Supervision from Southern Connecticut State University.

Albert retired from the Carmel New York School District in 1998 where he was director of middle school and high school bands as well as K-12 Director of Music. He has performed as percussionist with many Connecticut and Westchester County symphony orchestras and played drums and percussion with various theater groups, jazz big bands and small groups. He recently recorded a newly released CD with The Bridgeport Jazz Trio entitled “Out of The Past.”

Albert was an adjunct music professor at Western Connecticut State University for four 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 at the Danbury Music Centre for 16 years and been guest conductor of the Danbury Symphony POPS Orchestra three times. Al conducted numerous award winning  musicals at Ridgefield High School for 14 years and at Trinity Catholic High School in Stamford for four years.

Sasha Ono

Sasha Ono is a cellist and music educator in the New York City area. Recent performances include work with Michael Bublé, Josh Groban, Sarah Brightman, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Grammy Award-winning jazz musicians, Mozart in the Jungle, Streetlight Manifesto, and Little Kruta Orchestra. She has performed in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall,  National Sawdust, Avery Fisher Hall (David Geffen Hall), Madison Sq. Garden as well as international performance venues.

As an advocate for making live music more available to the public, she founded Lotus Chamber Music Collective. The series presents concerts at informal venues and encourages audience members to engage in meaningful dialogue at local venues and private homes. The series also collaborates with local music educators to provide resources and workshops for students and highlights composers and performers of color.

Sasha is a faculty member at New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and conductor of the Western Connecticut Youth Orchestra String Orchestra. During her tenure teaching and conducting elementary through high school orchestras, Sasha developed a unique strings curriculum focused on developing perseverance, building effective practice techniques, and learning music literacy through ear training.

Sasha received her B.A in Cello Performance under the direction of Julia Lichten at SUNY Purchase College Conservatory of Music and Masters of Arts in Music Education from Manhattanville College where she received the Fromkin Award and became a New York State Certified Music Teacher.

Sasha Ono’s Website

Paul Frucht

Paul Frucht is the Artistic Director of the Charles Ives Music Festival at the WCYO!

Hailed as a “composer with a career to follow” by the Ridgefield Press, Paul Frucht is an American composer whose music has been acclaimed for its “sense of lyricism, driving pulse, and great urgency” (WQXR) and “excellent orchestration” (Ridgefield Press). His music has been commissioned and performed by the Minnesota Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, Atlantic Music Festival Orchestra, Chelsea Symphony, Juilliard Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, Weill-Cornell Music and Medicine Orchestra, Western Connecticut Youth Orchestra, American Modern Ensemble, Asian American New Music Institute, Euclid Quartet, Gamper Festival of Contemporary Music, LONGLEASH Trio, New York City Ballet Choreographic Institute, Utah Arts Festival, Buffalo Chamber Music Society, and the Eastern Music Festival among numerous other performing ensembles and organizations.

This summer, Paul will be a Composition Fellow at Midsummer’s Music in Door County, WI and the 2021-2022 season will feature the premiere of two songs commissioned by the Boston Opera Collaborative, new commissions for Ulysses and Carpe Diem String Quartets, and the premiere of an orchestral song cycle to be written for bass-baritone Kenneth Kellogg, commissioned by Yuga Cohler and the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra.

Paul has been the recipient of a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Brian H. Israel Prize from the Society of New Music, an ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Award, Juilliard’s Palmer Dixon, Arthur Friedman, and Gena Raps Prizes, the American Composers Orchestra’s 2016 Audience Choice Award and has been recognized for his work by the American Modern Ensemble, the Nashville Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Red Note New Music Festival, Chelsea Symphony,  Periapsis Music and Dance, and the Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra.

Paul prioritizes cultural engagement in his music and artistic leadership activities. He is the artistic director of the Charles Ives Music Festival (CIMF) based in Ridgefield, CT, a position he has held since he founded the program in 2015. CIMF explores the rich history of Ives and his legacy, American music, through dynamic artist concerts and interactive educational events, with a particular focus on presenting the works of living American composers. In addition to CIMF, these goals have been realized through his role as the organizer and director for the 2016 Danbury Concert Across America to End Gun Violence, his representation of the Juilliard School and the United States at the Kyoto International Music Festival, and through his work, Dawn, which was written in memory of Sandy Hook Elementary School Principal, Dawn Hochsprung. The work has received over 15 performances and has been heard around the United States. He has also appeared for interviews with the Hartford Courant, “Fifteen” Questions, and CT NPR and his writing has appeared in NewMusicBox, an online publication.

A passionate educator of all ages, he has been a faculty member at New York University’s Steinhardt School since 2015 and before that was a music theory teaching fellow in Juilliard’s College Division and an instructor in Juilliard’s Pre-College Division. From 2014-15, he was composer-in-residence at the pianoSonoma Music Festival for amateur adult musicians and in 2015, founded the Charles Ives Music Festival, for both youth and adult musicians. He was also the Western Connecticut Youth Orchestra’s Composer-in-Residence for the 2017-18 season, where he worked with student musicians and led readings of student composers’ orchestral works.

Paul received his doctoral of musical arts and master of music degrees at the Juilliard School and a B.M. from New York University. His two primary teachers have been Robert Beaser and Justin Dello Joio.

Paul Frucht’s Website

Past Conductors

Petko Dimitrov – Western Connecticut Youth Orchestra Music Director & Symphony Orchestra Conductor – 2006-2015

Tristan Rais-Sherman – String Ensemble Conductor – 2017-2019

Suzanne Corey-Sahlin – Ridgefield Symphony Junior Orchestra & WCYO String Ensemble Conductor – 2005-2012

Ankush Kumar Bahl – Ridgefield Symphony Youth Orchestra (WCYO) Music Director & Symphony Orchestra Conductor – 2003-2006

Jonathan Schiffman – Ridgefield Symphony Youth Orchestra (WCYO) Conductor – 2003