Orchestras & Conductors

Westchester Youth Symphony

Considered one of America’s foremost youth orchestras, the GWYOA Youth Symphony is a full orchestra, including string students in grades ten through twelve and wind, brass and percussion students in grades nine and above. This ensemble is comprised of over 100 gifted young musicians who have demonstrated advanced ability and musicality. The Lionti-Lewis Concerto Competition recognizes outstanding members of the orchestra’s graduating class each year.

Conductor: Vincent Lionti

Vincent J. Lionti holds a bachelor’s degree in music and a master’s degree in music from The Juilliard School where he was principal violist and teaching assistant to William Lincer. He has been a member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra since 1987. From 1983-87 he was a member of the Detroit Symphony, and he performed with the New York Philharmonic from 1981-83. Mr. Lionti has performed as the principal violist with the Santa Fe Opera and guest principal violist of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. He has also been a member of the Casals Festival Orchestra, Lyric Chamber Ensemble, and Renaissance City Chamber Ensemble. Mr. Lionti has had a long history with the GWYOA, first as a student at age 12, through high school, and now as a conductor. He led the Westchester Junior Strings and became the conductor of the Westchester Youth Symphony in 1997.

Conductor: Victor Lionti

C. Victor Lionti was musical director and conductor of the Westchester Youth Symphony for 27 years until 1997. His teaching career has included Hartford High School, White Plains High School, and Kent State University. He was on the faculty of Westchester Community College for 25 years where he served as music curriculum chairman, and remains as professor emeritus and adjunct professor of music. A graduate of the Eastman School of Music and the Catholic University of America, Mr. Lionti has performed with the Rochester Philharmonic, Hartford Symphony, U.S. Marine Band in Washington, D.C., and as principal violist with the Greenwich Symphony. He was music director of the Aaron Copland Music and Arts Program in Westchester County, and presently serves as coordinator and associate conductor for the GWYOA Youth Symphony.

Westchester Junior Strings

Westchester Junior Strings is a group of committed string players who are accepted into the orchestra by audition in the spring. The ensemble is comprised of 7th, 8th and 9th graders, mostly from Westchester County, but a few from Rockland and Dutchess Counties (and one from New Jersey). Everyone in the group participates in their school's instrumental ensembles, and many are active chamber musicians as well. The orchestra works on and performs a range of compositions from Baroque to contemporary, and has had works written for the group. Junior Strings has performed at Avery Fisher Hall, Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall, and has been chosen twice to play for "Music in our Schools Month" in Albany.

Conductor: Jacqueline Stern

Jacqueline Stern has conducted the Junior Strings since 1996, before which she was the founding conductor of the Elementary Strings. She is also director of instrumental music at the Green Meadow Waldorf School, where she conducts the orchestras and teaches cello. Ms. Stern is an active orchestral and chamber music performer with many groups in the tri-state area including the trio Terzetta, the Stamford Symphony, the Encore Chamber Players, Spirit (an improv group at Teachers College), and others. She has played Baroque cello with the Artek Ensemble, Orchestra of the 18th Century, and New York Baroque. She has been an artist-fellow with the Bach Aria Festival and a full scholarship student at the Britten-Pears School for Advanced Musical Studies in England. She holds a bachelor of music degree from Ithaca College, and a master of music degree from the Manhattan School of Music, where she was a Helena Rubinstein Foundation Scholar.

Westchester Elementary Strings

The GWYOA Elementary Strings, comprised of 60 students in grades four through six, provides a unique opportunity for young string players to begin their orchestral training. For many, it is their first opportunity to play with a group of musicians with similar abilities. The orchestra offers its members the opportunity to advance their skills and participate in an array of concerts at sites ranging from local schools and hospitals to prestigious institutions like Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in Manhattan

Conductor: Bernard Klinger

Bernard Klinger is a graduate of Hartt College of Music where he received bachelor’s degrees in music education and viola performance. He has a master’s degree in music education from Columbia University Teachers College. Mr. Klinger taught strings and orchestra at Holland Hill School in Fairfield, Connecticut for five years. Before that, he taught strings and orchestra in the Chappaqua and White Plains School Districts for 33 years. He was principal violist in the Ridgefield, Connecticut Symphony, and currently plays viola in the Greenwich Symphony. A past president of the Westchester County School Music Association (WCSMA), he has also served as elementary festival coordinator, orchestra chairman, elementary orchestra conductor, and advisor to the board. Mr. Klinger joined the GWYOA in 1996.