Artistic Leadership

053115_WCYO_374_Low-ResSMEric Mahl

Maestro Eric Mahl is the Music Director of the Western Connecticut Youth Orchestra (WCYO), Conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Third Street Music School Settlement, Artistic Director of the Harmony Program Youth Orchestra North (HPYO), Artistic Director of the New Jersey Young Artists Ensembles (NJYAE) and assistant conductor of the Greenwich Village Orchestra in New York, New York, 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 assistant conductor to the contemporary music ensemble Orchestre 21, in Montreal QC, and Urban Playground Chamber orchestra in New York, New York, 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, the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra, Greenwich Village Orchestra, The Chelsea Symphony, Urban Playground orchestra, and the University Orchestras of the College Conservatory of Music at Cincinnati (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. This past January, he was invited by the Chelsea Symphony (Manhattan, NY) to conduct the world
premiere of Tim Kiah’s “Song of Zippy,” as well as music by Bartok.

As a passionate Educator, Mr. Mahl teaches all ages and instruments at a number of schools throughout the five boroughs of New York City, and frequently works with student musicians from underserved 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 whenever and wherever possible, in addition to working with student orchestras and giving lessons.

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 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.


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

We are excited to welcome Sasha Ono as our String Ensemble Conductor!

Sasha is a freelance cellist and music educator in the New York City area. Recent performances include work with Grammy Award-winning jazz musicians, Mozart in the Jungle, Streetlight Manifesto, and Little Kruta Orchestra. Sasha is also a part of a new collaboration with organist Anthony Rispo in a series of concerts performing newly imagined works for organ and cello which was featured at Piccolo Spoleto. She has performed in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall,  National Sawdust, Avery Fischer Hall (David Geffen Hall), Madison Sq. Garden as well as international performance venues. She recently completed a concert tour of Northern Japan, to raise awareness and funds for areas still heavily impacted by the tsunami and earthquakes.

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. 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 for Youth Orchestra of St.Luke’s (YOSL) and has spent the last few years creating and directing a unique Strings curriculum for Brewster Central School District. 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. At YOSL, she works as a group cello instructor as well as a consultant and creator of student assessments.

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

We are pleased to welcome Paul Frucht as 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 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, LONGLEASH Trio, New York City Ballet Choreographic Institute, Utah Arts Festival, and the Eastern Music Festival among numerous other performing ensembles and organizations.

The upcoming 2019-2020 season is highlighted by performances by the Ulysses Quartet at the Buffalo Chamber Music Society and on the Mostly Music Series, the premiere of a new work for violin and piano by Alice Ivy-Pemberton, the premiere of Acadian Vista by the Minnesota Orchestra, 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, and Periapsis Music and Dance.

Paul prioritizes cultural engagement in his music and artistic leadership activities. In addition to his position as artistic director of the Charles Ives Music Festival at the Western Connecticut Youth Orchestra, these goals have been realized through his role as the organizer 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 a chamber program for both children and adults,  which is now part of the Charles Ives Music Festival. He was also the Western Connecticut Youth Orchestra’s Composer-in-Residence for the 2017-18 season. 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


Jonathan Cziner

We are pleased to welcome Jonathan Cziner as the Associate Artistic Director of the Charles Ives Music Festival at the WCYO!

Jonathan Cziner is an American composer based in New York City. His music combines colorful harmony and texture with nostalgic lyricism, creating a sound-world that ranges from dark and mysterious to vibrant. Drawing on a wide variety of inspirations, Jonathan’s writing engages the senses and the emotions, fully immersing listeners in the musical experience.

A 2018 Charles Ives Scholarship recipient from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Jonathan’s works have been performed in the United States and Europe by ensembles including the Minnesota Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Juilliard Orchestra, and New Juilliard Ensemble. Recent commissions include Once New for the Lyric Chamber Music Society, Fantasy Chorale for the American Guild of Organists, and Nebulous for the Dallas Harp Quartet, with performances at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, and (Le) Poisson Rouge in New York City.

His orchestral work Resonant Bells, premiered by David Robertson and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, was awarded the William Schuman Prize for most outstanding score at the BMI Student Composer Awards as well as the 2018 Palmer Dixon Prize, awarded to the most outstanding work composed at the Juilliard School. The piece was then selected by the Minnesota Orchestra for performance at the 2018-2019 Minnesota Orchestra Composer’s Institute with Maestro Osmo Vänskä. Cziner’s most recent orchestral piece, flowers of fire, was written to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the World War I armistice and was premiered by the Juilliard Orchestra with soprano Kathleen O’Mara and Maestro Jeffery Milarsky in February 2019.

Jonathan served for two years as co-artistic director of Dynamic Music Festival, an annual concert series dedicated to premiering works of student composers attending universities in the New York City area. He currently is the associate artistic director of the Charles Ives Concert Series, which focuses its programming on the music of Ives, as well as other past and present American composers. Equally dedicated to film scoring, he has worked with writer/director Nora Unkel on her first feature film, A Nightmare Wakes, for release in 2019. Cziner began formal composition training upon his acceptance to New York University, where he received a Bachelor of Music degree studying with Justin Dello Joio. He completed his Master of Music degree at The Juilliard School under the tutelage of Robert Beaser, and is in the midst of his studies in Juilliard’s prestigious C.V. Starr doctoral program.

Jonathan Cziner’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