ESYO’s Youth Orchestra is our most advanced orchestra and is reserved for players whose technical skills and musicality are at the highest level. The orchestra receives regular professional coaching and performs in the finest concert halls, including the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Massry Center, Zankel Center, Proctors Theatre, and even Carnegie Hall.
The Youth Orchestra has undertaken five international tours, most recently in 2012 when it was invited to perform at the World Expo in Yeosu, South Korea. That tour included concerts in Beijing and Shanghai, China, Seoul, and on Sorok Island (South Korea) where victims of Hansen’s disease (leprosy) have been isolated for most of their lives. The tour concluded with a rousing concert of patriotic music for US troops and their families stationed in Seoul. Traveling to Austria, Germany, and the Czech Republic in 2008, the orchestra performed the European premieres of Samuel Adler’s A Bridge to Understanding. This piece was commissioned by ESYO for its March 2008 New Music for a New Generation Festival.
Every year the orchestra performs in Melodies of Christmas, CBS 6′s popular holiday program that has raised more than $7 million for the pediatric oncology program at Albany Medical Center. A fall rehearsal weekend in the Catskills, an annual young people’s concert, a free concert for senior citizens, and a concerto competition round out the program.
Helen Cha-Pyo, ESYO’s Music Director and Conductor of the Youth Orchestra
Since 2002, Music Director Helen Cha-Pyo has inspired hundreds of young musicians to perform at the highest levels, resulting in Empire State Youth Orchestras (ESYO) being recognized as one of the nation’s premier music organizations for youth. As Conductor of ESYO’s Youth Orchestra, Ms. Cha-Pyo regularly programs a wide range of music embracing many different cultures. Her vision resulted in ESYO being awarded a $100,000 grant to partially fund a music festival that commissioned nine works (one for each of ESYO’s ensembles), and winning three prestigious ASCAP awards for programming. She has conducted the orchestra in outstanding concert halls including Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, the Massry Center for the Arts, EMPAC, Tanglewood’s Ozawa Hall, and Carnegie Hall. She has led the orchestra on two international tours: to Europe in 2008, and to China and South Korea in 2012.
From 1996 to 2002, Ms. Cha-Pyo served as Artistic Director and Conductor of the Riverside Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir and Associate Director of Music at The Riverside Church in New York City. A committed music educator, she pioneered the Riverside Music Educational Program, which served thousands of New York City public-school children. She recorded 3 CDs with the Riverside Choir under the JAV label.
As Artistic Director for the Kenya Jirani Choir and Harlem Jirani Ensemble of the Jirani Cultural Organization from 2010 – 2013, Ms. Cha-Pyo traveled regularly to Kenya and Korea to oversee artistic activities and train music staff and choirs. In 2011 she toured Korea with Kenya Jirani Choir and conducted its 5th anniversary concert at the famed Sejong Cultural Hall in Seoul.
Born in Seoul, Ms. Cha-Pyo immigrated to the USA when she was 12. She studied piano and organ in the Pre-College Program at The Juilliard School. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Organ Performance from Oberlin Conservatory and Master of Music degrees in conducting and organ performance from the Eastman School of Music. She frequently conducts orchestras for the New York State School Music Association’s festivals including All State and area All-State and has conducted orchestras and choruses around the country and in Africa, Asia, and Europe. She travels annually to Korea to teach and lecture at conductors’ seminars. She resides in New Jersey with her husband and two sons.
ESYO’s Repertory Orchestra is a full symphonic orchestra that provides intermediate-level students with challenging rehearsal and performance opportunities while stressing fundamental technical and musical skills and the improvement of sight-reading abilities. The orchestra usually performs three or four concerts during the year and regularly performs with the Youth Orchestra at a major venue. The Repertory Orchestra participated in exchange concerts with the Vermont Youth Philharmonia (from Vermont Youth Orchestra), is a regular guest performer at Albany Pro Musica’s annual High School Choral Festival, and participates in the ESYO fall rehearsal weekend in the Catskill Mountains.
David C. Beck, Conductor, ESYO’s Repertory Orchestra
David Beck has been a string specialist for the Bethlehem Central School District since 1991. During his tenure at Bethlehem, he has taught string lessons and orchestral ensembles in grades 6 through 12. He is currently the conductor of the Bethlehem High School Concert Orchestra and Symphony, both highly-rated ensembles in NYSSMA’s Major Organization Evaluation System. In 1994, Mr. Beck established a chamber music program for his high school orchestra program. His chamber ensembles have performed for three New York governors at the governor’s mansion as well as in master classes given by the Manhattan String Quartet.
Mr. Beck has also worked as a festival clinician throughout New York, Connecticut, and Florida and has presented workshops at conferences for CASDA, NYSBDA, and NYSSMA. He is certified for NYSSMA as a Solo/Ensemble Adjudicator, All-State Adjudicator, and Major Organization Adjudicator and has served as both the Assistant Chair and Chairman of NYSSMA’s All-State Orchestra and is currently Strings Chairman for the NYSSMA Winter Conference. Since 1995, he has been the conductor of orchestras at Eastern US Music Camp in Hamilton, NY; this past summer, he also served as conductor for American Music Abroad and will tour with them again in 2016. Previously, Mr. Beck was on the staff of Laurel Music Camp in Connecticut and has worked with the Delmar Community Orchestra, Connecticut Valley Chamber Orchestra, and the West Hartford Music Club.
Double-majoring on cello and tuba, Mr. Beck received his Bachelor’s in Music degree from Ithaca College. He also holds a Master’s degree in orchestral conducting from the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford.
Mr. Beck has been the conductor of ESYO’s Repertory Orchestra since 2000.
ESYO’s Wind Orchestra performs a wide variety of literature, including original wind ensemble pieces, marches, chamber music, and transcriptions of orchestral works. The focus of training is concentrated on performance standards, tone production, precision, musicality, individual and group style, and practice habits. The ensemble gives several concerts a year and has performed annually with The College of Saint Rose’s Wind Ensemble.
Dr. Robert Hansbrough, Conductor, ESYO’s Wind Orchestra
Dr. Robert S. Hansbrough is Professor of Music at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY. His teaching responsibilities include conducting the wind ensemble and chamber winds as well as teaching graduate courses in music education, instrumental conducting and wind band literature. He also conducts Empire State Youth Orchestras’ Wind Orchestra as well as The College of Saint Rose’s Faculty Camerata Chamber Orchestra.
He earned a BA in Music Education from The University of South Florida and the Masters and PhD in Music Education with a concentration in wind band conducting from The Florida State University. He is the co-author of “Music For Concert Band,” a selected literature textbook, which was published by Meredith Music in February 2014. Dr. Hansbrough has conducted honor bands throughout the United States and Europe and has adjudicated bands and orchestras from 26 states, Canada and Mexico. He has served on the National Band Association Board of Directors as the Eastern Division Chair. He has conducted ESYO’s Wind Orchestra since the 2001-02 season.
ESYO’s String Orchestra gives string players training in the techniques of playing in large ensembles and lays the foundation for participation in other ESYO ensembles. Supplementing area school string programs, the orchestra gives at least two concerts a year with other ESYO groups.
Joseph Gumpper is a graduate of Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam, holding a degree in music education with a concentration in violin. He earned his Master’s degree in Music Education from The College of Saint Rose.
A teacher in the Shenendehowa School District, Mr. Gumpper began his career in the district’s elementary schools, and then became director of middle school orchestras. Since 2006 he has served as the High School Orchestra Director at Shenendehowa’s East and West High Schools. In his current position he conducts three orchestras. Mr. Gumpper also has a small studio of private students.
Mr. Gumpper has been guest conductor for several All-County and Area-All State festivals throughout the state. He has also conducted workshops for CASDA, a local teacher training organization.
A freelance violinist, Mr. Gumpper also plays fiddle. He has played with several local bands and currently plays with Rusticator, an acoustic folk group. Mr. Gumpper joined ESYO in 2007 as the conductor of the Empire State String Orchestra.
ESYO’s Concertino Strings is a performance-based ensemble with a focus on educating and fostering a love of music in beginning string musicians. Basic and intermediate rehearsal techniques are introduced in a safe and nurturing environment. Music is chosen to challenge all players, and to add to their canon of musical knowledge. Understanding of the elements of music and string playing is deepened through the study of carefully chosen selections. Concertino Strings has two concerts every year.
John Burmeister, Conductor, Concertino Strings
John F. Burmeister is an educator, conductor, and performer residing in Troy, New York. A public school teacher for many years, Mr. Burmeister has taught elementary and middle school orchestra, classroom music, special education music, and currently teaches Performing Arts and Orchestral Studies at Troy Preparatory Elementary and Middle schools in Troy, NY; a charter school within the prestigious Uncommon Schools network.
Mr. Burmeister holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam, and a Master of Music degree in Music Education from Ithaca College. While studying in Ithaca, he focused on initiating life-long and professional musicianship habits in young students. Mr. Burmeister maintains a select private cello studio, and is a member of the National Association for Music Education and the New York State School Music Association.
Youth and Repertory Jazz Ensembles
ESYO’s two jazz ensembles cover most of the history of jazz from early swing of the 1920s to the exciting jazz/rock fusion of the 1980s to today’s contemporary jazz. The Youth Jazz Ensemble, formed in 1986, has performed with Eastman’s Jazz Ensemble and has worked with guest artists such as “Blue” Lou Marini and Allen Vizzutti, and Grammy-award winning pianist/ composer Bill Cunliffe. The Repertory Jazz Ensemble, formed in 2006 for less experienced musicians has, since 2011, been a regular performer at the annual SaratogaArtsFest (SAF). In 2014, with an SAF grant, the ensemble premiered Walk Like the Guv, which ESYO commissioned from jazz trombonist Michael Davis.
Paul Evoskevich, Director, Youth Jazz Ensemble
Paul Evoskevich is Professor of Saxophone and Jazz Studies at The College of Saint Rose. A graduate of the Hartt School and The Eastman School of Music, he has performed with numerous orchestras and with such music luminaries as Louis Bellson, Bob Mintzer, Bill Cunliffe, Paul Anka, Liza Minelli, Joel Grey, Johnny Mathis, The Four Tops, The Temptations, Sarah Vaughn, Theresa Brewer, and Ben Vereen. He has extensive experience recording for television and radio jingles and is an active performer of classic saxophone repertoire and jazz. He has performed and presented master classes throughout the United States and Europe. He is a former staff writer for The Saxophone Journal and Jazz Player Magazine. He joined ESYO in 1986.
Lee Russo, Conductor, Repertory Jazz Ensemble
Lee Russo is currently the Director of Guilderland High School’s Jazz Ensemble and Concert Band and teaches woodwind lessons and music technology. An active performer, he leads his own trio/quartet, and plays with groups led by Joe Barna, Keith Pray, Michael Benedict, Pete Sweeney and Teresa Broadwell. He has released two CD’s as a band leader: “Trading Off” (2006) and “The Abenaki” (2007). Mr. Russo studied with Paul Evoskevich and Jack Fragomeni at The College of Saint Rose and completed his studies at the Crane School of Music where he studied with Bob Faub and Brett Zvacek. At both schools he worked under the direction of many guest artists/clinicians, including Bob Mintzer, Bill Cunliffe, Rufus Reid, Donald Sinta, The New York Hardbop Quintet, Ralph Lalama and Dave Demsey. Mr. Russo, an ESYO Jazz alumnus from 1990, joined ESYO as a conductor in 2015.
Youth, Repertory – Falcons, and Repertory – Eagles Percussion Ensembles
ESYO’s three percussion ensembles , Youth, Repertory – Falcons, and Repertory – Eagles, follow the model of our progressive training program by providing a clear path for young percussionists to follow as they develop and improve their ensemble skills under the supervision of several of the area’s top percussion players. Many members of these three ensembles also perform in ESYO’s Youth, Repertory, and Wind Orchestras. The more advanced ensembles routinely perform in festivals and clinics throughout the northeast; the Youth Percussion Ensemble recently was a guest performer at Albany Symphony’s American Music Festival. ESYO is the only youth music organization in the country to host three percussion ensembles.
Richard Albagli, Co-Conductor, Youth Percussion Ensemble and Repertory Percussion Ensemble
Richard Albagli is principal percussionist with the Albany Symphony Orchestra and a member of the music faculty of the University at Albany.
A graduate of RPI (physics) and the Eastman School of Music (percussion performance), he has written more than twenty-five works for solo percussion and percussion ensemble as well as a timpani concerto. As a co-founder of Associated Solo Artists, he has designed and performed interdisciplinary programs in music, the sciences, and the humanities as well as programs in leadership and creativity in more than twenty states, Europe, Mexico, and Canada. Mr. Albagli has been conducting ESYO ensembles since 1983.
Mark Foster is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music. A member of the Albany Symphony Orchestra, he also performs with the Empire Jazz Orchestra and is on the music faculty at The College of Saint Rose. He is a member of the Percussive Arts Society (PAS), Vic Firth Education and Hudson Music Teacher Integration Programs. One of the premier drum set players in the region, he also has a private percussion studio in Glenmont. Mr. Foster has been conducting ESYO ensembles since 1987.
John Antonio, Co-Conductor, Falcons Repertory Percussion Ensemble
Until his retirement in June 2004, John Antonio taught music in the Albany City School District and was the program coordinator of the district’s summer music program. As a teacher he has been responsible for starting many of the area’s top percussion players including Matthew Ward and Grammy nominee Stefon Harris. Mr. Antonio has been a guest conductor at numerous Area All-District music festivals. He is currently the co-conductor of the Empire State Repertory Percussion Ensemble – a position he has held since 1995. He also coaches the percussion sections of ESYO’s Repertory and Youth Orchestras. Mr. Antonio received his Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Music Education from The College of Saint Rose.
Genoveffa Vitale, Conductor, Eagles Repertory Percussion Ensemble
Genoveffa Vitale is a local music educator in the Bethlehem Central School district and also gives master classes on four mallet marimba. She holds degrees from Onondaga Community College (A.A.S), SUNY Potsdam, Crane School of Music (B.M.E.), and Walden University (M.S.). While at Crane, Ms. Vitale won the Crane Concerto Competition, conducted and performed in the two percussion ensembles, and obtained a Performance Certificate in percussion. Ms. Vitale joined ESYO in 2010.
Empire State Youth Chorale
The Empire State Youth Chorale collaborates with Empire State Youth Orchestra for the Melodies of Christmas performances at Proctors Theater.
Rae Jean Teeter, Director
Rae Jean Teeter has been the Director of Vocal Music at Guilderland High School since 1995. While at Guilderland, Mrs. Teeter has developed a choral curriculum that has been recognized throughout the state for its excellence in performance and in the use of Music Learning Theory and movement to develop the aural skills and total musicianship of her vocalists. She is a frequent guest conductor and clinician and is a contributing author “Teaching Music Through Performance in Choir Vol. 2” published by GIA music. While many of her alumni go on to pursue music as a career, she continues to work toward cultivating an atmosphere where her students will go on to become life-long singers and advocates for the importance of choral singing. She also maintains a large active private vocal studio in both Guilderland and Schoharie.
Mrs. Teeter has directed the Empire State Youth Chorale since 2012.