A Virtual Symphony Tribute: Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus. In Memory of our Conductor, Vincent J. Lionti

This tribute reflects the dedication of all members of the Youth Symphony. As a group, they refused to let COVID-19 prevent them from “getting together” to play one last time in memory of their Conductor, Vincent Lionti. Working at home, each musician recorded their part of Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus (arranged for full orchestra by Marc Garetto, Harmonie Editions), with the final compilation created through the hard work of Interim Conductor Kathleen Feldman, GWYOA Board Member Grace Baccay, and JLK Productions.

Elementary Strings Conductor and Coach: Mr. Bernard Klinger

Quartet musicians featured are in 6th grade:

Violin I - Natalie Baccay (upper left) / Violin II - Ava Wu (upper right)

Viola - Cindy Wang (lower left) / Cello - Teun van Diedenhoven (lower right)

Elementary Strings Virtual Quartet Performance

The GWYOA Elementary Strings presents a virtual quartet performance of:

Concerto Grosso in D (Georg Philipp Telemann; arranged by Robert D. McCashin)

Originally slated as part of the Spring Gala Concert program at Lincoln Center on April 28, 2020, but was cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Musicians used cell phones to capture their video. Each part was recorded remotely and then edited together.

Post-production editing by Ollie Baccay, an 8th grade musician from the GWYOA Junior Strings orchestra. Video editing program - Adobe Creative Cloud.

Welcome Kathleen

Kathleen Feldman has graciously agreed to serve as Interim Youth Symphony Conductor for our 2020-2021 season.

Dear GWYOA Families,

As a part of the ongoing effort to move our organization through this very difficult time, we are now able to offer you an update on our conductors. With Mr. Lionti’s passing so very recent, we still must plan for upcoming auditions and for our program for next season.

To that end, we are very pleased to announce that Mr. Klinger will remain the conductor of Elementary Strings and Ms. Stern will remain the conductor of Junior Strings. As such, those two wonderful groups will move forward in the same manner as they have in the past and with the same spectacular results.

Turning to the Youth Symphony, our search for a new conductor is expected to take the better part of a year, and possibly more. This is an incredibly detailed process and one that is designed to provide the YS with solid leadership for many years to come. In the interim, we are very excited to share with you that Kathleen Feldman has accepted the position of Assistant Conductor for the Youth Symphony. This action was taken with the full support of the board, and with the full support and approval of Victor Lionti as well. Many current YS musicians already know Kathleen as she ran our seating auditions earlier this season.

In addition, and keeping the long-term YS conductor search in mind, Kathleen has graciously agreed to serve as Interim Youth Symphony Conductor for our 2020-2021 season.

Kathleen holds degrees in violin performance from Purchase College (SUNY) and music education from Manhattanville College (MAT), as well as a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies from Boston University. She is a music teacher with the Chappaqua Central School District, where she has taught strings district-wide since 2005. She is currently the orchestra director at Horace Greeley High School and teaches courses in music history and theory. She performs locally with professional groups such as The Chappaqua Orchestra, where she is a permanent guest conductor of the summer pops concert. A Past-President of the Westchester County School Music Association, she is currently an advisor to the Board of Directors. Prior to her work with GWYOA, she was orchestra director for the Westchester Putnam Youth Symphony, Senior and Junior divisions.

As a part of our tribute to Mr. Lionti, Kathleen is actively working with a group of Board members on plans to record a “virtual symphony” in memory of Mr. Lionti. She will be reaching out to all current YS musicians in the not-too-distant future with details of the project.

As always, stay safe and stay healthy.

- The GWYOA Board of Directors

Dear GWYOA students and families,

It is with heavy hearts that we bring the sad news of Vincent Lionti’s passing on April 4, 2020. He was hospitalized for COVID-related illness and proceeded to become critically ill. We have been in touch with Victor Lionti (his father) and his family throughout this terrible tragedy.

This loss is so great, so sudden, so incomprehensible.

Vincent Lionti was not simply a wonderful conductor. He was a caring and thoughtful person, an enthusiastic and highly accomplished musician who led with his charisma and humor, and a friend and role model to all in our organization. He will be greatly missed.

Please all, be well.

- The GWYOA Board of Directors

PBS NewsHour feature "Faces of COVID"

If you missed the PBS NewsHour feature "Faces of COVID" which was broadcast on Friday evening, April 17, 2020, honoring five individuals who fell victim to this horrible virus - including Vincent Lionti. It can be found here: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/remembering-some-of-those-lost-to-covid-19

Westchester Community College will be closed and all activities cancelled until further notice.

March 29, 2020 Update:

Dear GWYOA Families,

Please read the following Covid-19 update from the board of GWYOA:

  • The GWYOA board has been meeting every Monday evening by phone, and continues to monitor COVID-19 developments in the hope of allowing for a concert in late June.
  • Still, any determination to begin rehearsing again will be made based on the actions allowed by government and health officials. In addition, the GWYOA board may determine that our actions should be even more conservative than those allowed by public officials.
  • As of now, we have tentatively booked Lincoln Center for June 21. That said, still-unknown events in advance of that date will drive our ability to rehearse for such a concert and therefore our decision to perform (or not).
  • Any concert after late June is not likely as summer will have started. We are also mindful of graduation dates in late June for our seniors, though we assume those dates may also change.
  • We will stay in touch with all GWYOA families as events warrant and appreciate your patience during this unprecedented time.

Please stay safe and healthy!!

The GWYOA Board of Directors

Related Links:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/

New York State Department of Health: https://www.ny.gov/agencies/department-health

Westchester County Department of Health: https://health.westchestergov.com/

WCC’s Coronavirus Preparedness: https://www.sunywcc.edu/news/coronavirus-preparedness/


Our primary communication with members during the 2020-2021 season will be through email. Please make sure you have registered under your primary email address and check to make sure email communication from gwyoa.org and SignupGenius.com are not being directed to your Junk or Spam folder.

Please follow us on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gwyoa/

2019-2020 GWYOA Schedule

(click for printable PDF)

Detailed Information available on Member Info pages:


September 9 - Rehearsal #1

September 16* - Rehearsal #2

September 23 - Rehearsal #3

September 30 - No rehearsal: Rosh Hashanah

October 7** - Rehearsal #4

October 14 - Rehearsal #5 (Columbus Day)

Sunday, October 20 - Elementary Strings Sectional Rehearsal, 1:15 - 2:30 PM, 2:45 - 4:00 PM

October 21* - Rehearsal #6

October 28 - Rehearsal #7

November 4** - Rehearsal #8

November 11 - Rehearsal #9: (Veteran's Day)

November 18* - Rehearsal #10

November 25 - Rehearsal #11 - also Junior Strings Sectional Rehearsal

December 2** - Rehearsal #12

Tuesday, December 3 - Elementary Strings Crowne Plaza Concert

December 9* - Rehearsal #13

Thursday, December 12 - Elementary Strings Fall Concert Tour (snow date Dec. 13)

Thursday, December 12 - Junior Strings Fall Concert

Sunday, December 15 (snow date Dec. 16) - GWYOA Winter Concert at WCC (recorded), 1:30 PM


January 6* - Rehearsal #14

January 13 - Rehearsal #15

Monday, January 13, 7:00 pm (snow Jan. 27) - Lewis-Lionti Sonata Concert (Youth Symphony performing, all welcome to attend)

January 20 - No rehearsal: Martin Luther King Day

January 27** - Rehearsal #16

February 3 - Rehearsal #17

Sunday, February 9 (snow date Mar. 1) - Elementary Strings Sectional Rehearsal

February 10* - Rehearsal #18

February 17 - No rehearsal: President’s Day

February 24** - Rehearsal #19

March 2 - Rehearsal #20

March 9* - Rehearsal #21 CANCELLED

March 16 - Rehearsal #22 CANCELLED

Monday, March 16 - Special rehearsal and sectionals for Junior Strings members, 6:30 - 8:45 pm CANCELLED

March 23 - Rehearsal #23 CANCELLED

March 30** - Rehearsal #24 CANCELLED

April 6 - No rehearsal: Spring Break

April 13* - Rehearsal #25 CANCELLED

April 20** - Rehearsal #26, Recordings: CANCELLED

ES report at 6:15, record 6:30 -7:15

JS report at 6:20, record 7:15 - 8:15

YS report to top floor at 7:45, record 8:15 - 9:15

Thursday, April 23 - Junior Strings Spring Concert, 6:00 pm CANCELLED

Saturday, May 30 - Auditions

Monday, June 1 - Auditions

May 11*

Friday, April 24 - Elementary Strings Spring Concert Tour CANCELLED

Note that the Up-County NYSSMA Solo/Ensemble Festival will be Friday afternoon and evening, and Saturday, April 25. If you plan on participating in that NYSSMA Festival, please request Saturday, April 25. Our tour will last a full day, and our musicians will need to be rested.

Sunday, June 21 - Spring Gala Concert at David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center, NYC CANCELLED

___________________________________* Board meeting** Parent/Guardian Committee

Inclement Weather Policy

GWYOA follows the Westchester Community College decisions for bad weather closures. Please check the WCC website (http://www.sunywcc.edu), call the WCC Information number at 914-606-6900, or contact your conductor/parent liaisons when in doubt. Should a rehearsal be cancelled for weather, we will notify you by email. Please make sure we always have your current email address.

All-GWYOA Concerts

Spring Gala Concert:

Sunday, June 21, 2020, at David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center, NYC. Tickets are available for purchase through Lincoln Center’s box office a few weeks before the concert. Seating is general admission, although you will be asked to choose seats when purchasing tickets. Student BUS transportation from WCC to Lincoln Center is provided - and is REQUIRED. Transportation home from Lincoln Center is NOT provided.

Orchestra-Specific Events

About the GWYOA

The Greater Westchester Youth Orchestras Association is dedicated to the development of young people’s musicianship through rehearsing and performing together.

The GWYOA is a not-for-profit organization providing excellent grounding in cooperation, helping young people to develop self- esteem, and promoting harmony in our ethnically diverse community through classical music training. Founded in 1953, the GWYOA consists of three orchestras made up of students in grades four through twelve from Westchester County, NY, and from the surrounding counties in the Tri-State area, working in cooperation with the Westchester Community College in Valhalla, NY. All three of the orchestras perform Winter and Spring Concerts each year.

History of the GWYOA

Mr. Harry Alshin, a string teacher in the Scarsdale school system, sowed the seeds for the GWYOA in 1955. Mr. Alshin first organized and conducted a countywide orchestra for junior high school students, preparing the young participants for the first youth orchestra which was established 2 years later.

The Westchester Youth Symphony, a high school age group, has had only 5 conductors since its inception. The longest tenure is held to date by Victor Lionti who took over the baton in 1970 and maintained it for 25 years. The current conductor, his son, Vincent Lionti, played viola with the GWYOA from the age of 12 through high school. He conducted the Westchester Junior Strings from 1990 until 1996 when he followed in his fathers footsteps and moved onto leading the Westchester Youth Symphony.

Maestro Alshin, the founder of the Westchester Junior Strings remained with that group until he retired in the 1980’s. Dale Lewis was the next conductor until Vincent Lionti came on board in 1990. The Westchester Elementary Strings was organized in 1983 and was first conducted by Jacqueline Stern. She moved onto the Westchester Junior Strings in 1996. It was at that time that Bernard Klinger joined the GWYOA as the conductor of the Westchester Elementary Strings.

During the early years, GWYOA was sponsored by Westchester County and rehearsals were held in the basement of the County Center. There was also a 6 week sleep away summer camp co-sponsored by the GWYOA and the county at Croton Point. Now, GWYOA works in cooperation with the Westchester Community College in Valhalla, NY, where weekly rehearsals are held.

Performance Venues

The GWYOA orchestras perform in a wide range of venues. In the past they have been honored to perform at:

  • Carnegie Hall
  • David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center
  • Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center
  • Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center
  • Ellis Island
  • Kennedy Center
  • SUNY Purchase Performing Arts Center
  • Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital
  • MENC Eastern Division Conference
  • NYSSMA State Conferences
  • White Plains Performing Arts Center
  • 1976 Bicentennial celebration in Philadelphia

Various local nursing homes, elementary and middle schools.


Lewis-Lionti Sonata Concert

Monday, January 13, 2020

(snow date Jan. 27)

VENUE: Westchester Community College's, Hankin Academic Arts Building Auditorium (map).

PARKING: The nearest parking lot to the venue is Lot #4 (same as rehearsals), but you must climb a hill to get to the Auditorium entrance, which may be difficult for some of our grandparents. Please see the overhead map and instructions for Handicap drop off route. Musicians and Guests proceed up the hill towards the regular rehearsal room, Musicians (and Guests that need to use the elevator) head left towards building side entrance, Guests continue up the hill to Auditorium entrance.

TICKETS: No admission charge. Seating is general admission.

April 20, 2020 - Recordings

ES report at 6:15 pm to regular rehearsal room, record 6:30 -7:15, return to rehearsal room and rehearse until 8:15 pm

JS report at 6:20 pm to regular rehearsal room, record 7:15 - 8:15

YS report to 3rd floor at 7:45 pm, record 8:15 - 9:15