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.  Eric Mahl’s Website

Joanna Giordano

Joanna Giordano joined the WCYO as String Orchestra Conductor in January 2022. She is a classical violinist, WCYO alumna, and strings educator in New York.

She received her Bachelor’s degree in Music with a minor in Education & Child Study from Smith College. While she was there, Joanna studied violin with Joel Pitchon and was the concertmaster of the Smith College Orchestra under conductor Jonathan Hirsh. She performed in a variety of concerts, including Gustav Holst’s The Planets and Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana collaborating with members of the Smith College Glee Club, as well as Montage, a series of contemporary songs centered around various themes. Joanna also studied composition under Dr. Kate Soper, which culminated in the original composition “Echoes,” exploring various composition techniques and extended performance techniques centered around a four-note melody. The piece was written for bass flute, C flute, violin, and vibraphone, performed by Erin Lesser, Ian Antonio, and Josh Modney of the Wet Ink Ensemble.

In the summer of 2014, Joanna was awarded a Susan Rose Internship from Smith College and pursued a teaching internship at Escuela de Música Qantu in Cuzco, Peru. There, she instructed Peruvian and international strings students in Suzuki Method and participated in concerts showcasing traditional Andean and Peruvian music. It was this internship and working with a diverse group of students that sparked Joanna’s passion for music education.

Joanna followed this passion to Teachers College, Columbia University, where she received her Master’s degree in Music & Music Education. Her studies included instrumental pedagogy, music education philosophy, and the intersection of child development and music under Daniel J. Brown, Dr. Randall Everett Allsup, Dr. Lori Custodero, and Dr. Kelly Parkes. One highlight of Joanna’s graduate program was the collaborative composition “Stages of Grief,” a semi-improvised exploration of the grieving process written for two voices, violin, cello, and piano. Joanna has always believed music to be a powerful means of self-expression–this composition felt even more powerful in that it allowed the co-composers to share and express those emotions in a musical community.

Joanna has played violin for over 15 years, including as a member of the Western Connecticut Youth Orchestra for six years. Some of her concert highlights include playing at Carnegie Hall in 2006 as a member of the Greater Westchester Youth Orchestra and at Avery Fisher Hall in 2008 as a member of WCYO. Joanna also sang in the Canticum Novum Youth Choir under director Edie Rosenbaum for a few years. Her performance highlights with the choir include singing in The Ennio Morricone Concerts at Radio City Music Hall and The United Nations in 2007 as well as performing at Cooper Union in 2007.

Joanna currently resides in White Plains, where she serves as concertmaster of the New Westchester Symphony Orchestra. In addition to music, Joanna loves spending time outdoors hiking or going to the beach, lifting weights, and taking care of her house plants.

Malin Carta

WCYO welcomes Malin Carta as conductor of the Wind Ensemble for Fall of 2022. Malin is a jazz saxophonist, woodwind doubler, and educator based in Connecticut.

A recent graduate of Western Connecticut State University (Magna Cum Laude, graduate of Kathwari Honors Program), Malin holds her Bachelor’s degree in Jazz Performance where she studied under the direction of Grammy-nominated saxophonist Jimmy Greene. Along with her position as Wind Ensemble conductor for the WCYO, Malin is currently Greenwich Country Day School’s director of the Jazz Band and teacher’s assistant for the Concert Band. Malin’s past teaching positions have included both group and private music classes at Bearclaw’s Academy of Music of New Milford, Southbury Music Studio, Summit Music Center of Manchester, Music & Arts of East Hartford, and Bach to Rock of Ridgefield.

Malin performs regularly with the CT-based band Lavender Social Club and the New Haven-based Elm City Big Band lead by Nick DiMaria. She has made appearances with several different groups including the Hartford Jazz Orchestra, the Greg Packham Group, the Berkshire Jazz Orchestra, and the Governor’s Foot Guard Band conducted by Chuck Lignelli.  During her four years at WCSU, she played lead alto saxophone in the Jazz Orchestra and Frankensax, lead by Jimmy Greene, Jamie Begian, and Andrew Beals; first chair in the Wind Ensemble, lead by Dr. Luis Fernando Jiménez; and soprano saxophone in her Saxophone Quartet, lead by Dave Noland.  She has had the opportunity to share the stage with masters such as Ron Carter, Sean Jones, Josh Evans, Russell Malone, and Geoffrey Keezer.

Past venues that Malin has performed at include the Soapbox Gallery (Brooklyn, NY), Space Ballroom (Hamden, CT), The Buttonwood Tree (Middletown, CT), the Cellar on Treadwell (Hamden, CT), the State House (New Haven, CT), and Cafe Nine (New Haven, CT). She is currently an active member of the Women in Jazz Organization (WIJO), where she worked with musicians Karolina Strassmayer, Alexa Tarantino, Sharel Cassity, Roxy Coss, and Emily Pecoraro .

Carta has been featured as a guest on Jim Motavalli’s segment on WPKN, where she discussed her self-released EP A Beautiful Storm (2021). Her original song “Sleeping Song” was played on WPKN 89.5, as well as her recordings of standards “Four” and “Stars Fell On Alabama”. She has won numerous awards including the 2021 WCSU Music Book Award for Jazz Studies, the 2018 James Furman Memorial Award, and the 2020 JUMY Foundation Scholarship.

Malin currently resides in Danbury, CT. Aside from music, Malin loves to hike, swim, and care for her plants.  Malin Carta’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