Orchestras and Conductors
Westchester Elementary Strings
The Westchester Elementary Strings, comprised of 60 musicians 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.
For string players entering grades 4-6 in September
Bernard Klinger, Conductor
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.
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 musicians in grades seven through nine, mostly from Westchester but also from the surrounding counties. Everyone in the orchestra 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. The Westchester Junior Strings has performed at David Geffen Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall, and has been chosen twice to play for "Music in our Schools Month" in Albany.
For string players entering grades 7-9 in September
Jacqueline Stern, Conductor
Jacqueline Stern has conducted Junior Strings since 1996, before which she was the founding conductor of Elementary Strings. 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, the Stamford Symphony and the flute quartet, Cara. 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 and a Conducting Fellow at the Pacific Northwest Conducting Institute and the Queens College Conducting Workshop.
Westchester Youth Symphony
Considered one of America’s foremost youth orchestras, the Westchester Youth Symphony is a full symphonic orchestra, including string musicians in grades ten through twelve and wind, brass and percussion musicians in grades nine and above. This ensemble is comprised of over 100 gifted young musicians who have demonstrated advanced ability and musicality. The annual Lewis-Lionti Sonata Concert recognizes outstanding members of the orchestra’s graduating class each year.
For string players entering grades 10-12 in September
For brass, wind and percussion musicians entering grades 9-12 in September
Kathleen Coletta Feldman, Conductor
Kathleen Feldman 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 regularly with local orchestras and has served as guest conductor for The Chappaqua Orchestra's summer pops concerts. 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 the GWYOA, she was orchestra director for the Westchester Putnam Youth Symphony, Senior and Junior divisions.
Forever in Our Hearts
The GWYOA family suffered a sudden, incomprehensible loss when Vincent J. Lionti passed away on April 3, 2020 from COVID-related illness.
Mr. 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.
On February 16, 2023, Vincent’s father, C. Victor Lionti, our conductor emeritus and prior conductor for 27 years, passed away. Maestro Lionti was a lifelong mentor and inspiration to many musicians as a teacher, conductor, and performer. Victor’s involvement in music brought him endless joy. The memories he had of time spent at rehearsals and performances were some of his happiest ones.
Both conductors will be greatly missed.
Vincent J. Lionti, Conductor
Vincent J. Lionti held a bachelor’s degree in Music and a master’s from The Juilliard School where he was principal violist and teaching assistant to William Lincer. He had 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 had a long history with the GWYOA, first as a student at age 12, through high school, and then as a conductor. He led the Westchester Junior Strings from 1993-1997 and became the conductor of the Westchester Youth Symphony in 1997.
C. Victor Lionti, Conductor
C. Victor Lionti was Musical Director and Conductor of the Westchester Youth Symphony 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.