Orchestras & Conductors

Westchester Youth Symphony Orchestra

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 Lewis-Lionti Concerto Competition recognizes outstanding members of the orchestra’s graduating class each year.

Conductor: Vincent J. Lionti

Vincent J. Lionti holds a bachelor’s degree in Music and a master’s 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 1983-1987, he was a member of the Detroit Symphony, and he performed with the New York Philharmonic from 1981-1983. 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, the Lyric Chamber Ensemble, and the 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 Orchestra from 1993-1997 and became the conductor of the Westchester Youth Symphony Orchestra in 1997.

Conductor: C. Victor Lionti

C. Victor Lionti was Musical Director and Conductor of the Westchester Youth Symphony Orchestra for 27 years from 1970 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, the Hartford Symphony, the US Marine Band in Washington, DC, and as principal violist with the Greenwich Symphony. Mr. Lionti was Music Director of the Aaron Copland Music and Arts program in Westchester County. He presently serves as coordinator and Associate Conductor for the GWYOA Youth Symphony.

Westchester Junior Strings Orchestra

Westchester Junior Strings Orchestra 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 Westchester Junior Strings Orchestra since 1996, before which she was the founding conductor of Westchester Elementary Strings Orchestra. She is Director of Instrumental Music at the Green Meadow Waldorf School, where she conducts the orchestras, teaches ‘cello and music history and coaches chamber music. Ms. Stern is an active orchestral and chamber music performer with many groups in the tri-state area including the trio Terzetta, Stamford Symphony and the Encore Chamber Players. 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. Ms. Stern has conducted, coached and been clinician at various music festivals in the metropolitan area. She holds a Bachelor of Music from Ithaca College and Master of Music from Manhattan School of Music, where she was a Helena Rubinstein Foundation Scholar. She has been a participant in the Music Educators’ Workshop at the Resnick Education Center of Carnegie Hall since 2016.

Westchester Elementary Strings Orchestra

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 5 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 is currently an advisor to the board. Mr. Klinger has conducted the GWYOA Elementary Strings since 1997.