ESYO engages more than 600 youth from across New York’s Capital Region and Western New England in the joyful pursuit of musical excellence.
Described as “a major career in the making” by Seen and Heard International, Colombian conductor and composer Carlos Ágreda is noted for his dynamic presence on the podium and breadth of repertoire, with musical interests ranging from opera and choral to contemporary and Latin-American music. Currently Music Director and Conductor of the Empire State Youth Orchestra, Ágreda was formerly a Conducting Fellow at the Curtis Institute of Music under the mentorship of Yannick Nézet-Séguin. He was also previously the Music Director at Corporación Coral y Orquestal de Colombia.
Ágreda first came to international attention when he reached the third round in the Cadaqués Orchestra International Conducting Competition in 2013 at the age of 22, the youngest of the short-listed candidates. Since then, he has worked with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, BBC Philharmonic, Manchester Camerata, Curtis Symphony and Liverpool Mozart orchestras amongst others and has conducted a number of fully-staged opera productions with Opera Philadelphia and Curtis Opera Theatre. Highlights of the coming season include his inaugural concert as Music Director with the Empire State Youth Orchestra, a return to the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Colombia as well as concerts with the Orquesta Filarmónica de Medellín.
An advocate of new music, Ágreda has conducted more than thirty world premieres. Particular highlights have included a concert of new works by British composer Jonathan Harvey at London’s Wigmore Hall and an appearance at the New Music North West Festival in 2016. He was invited to lead the Conducting Workshop at
the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival 2016 and in 2017, joined the Cabrillo Contemporary Music Festival as Conducting Fellow. As assistant conductor, Ágreda has worked alongside internationally renowned names such as Juanjo Mena, Yan Pascal Tortelier, David Robertson, Jon Storgårds and Sir Mark Elder with orchestras such as the Saint Louis and Pittsburgh symphony orchestras. He has also collaborated professionally with Sir Andrew Davis, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, and Osmo Vänskä and has been invited to participate in many high-profile masterclasses with Stéphane Denève, Leonard Slatkin, Vasily Petrenko, Cristian Măcelaru and Michael Tilson Thomas, to name a few.
Ágreda is passionate about social transformation through art and community education, as well as the power of symphonic music to bring young people together. He has been involved in projects with Play on Philly (POP) and All City Orchestra in Philadelphia, Stockport Youth Orchestra in the UK and the Orquesta Unimúsica in Colombia. He was also the Music Director of a special community project at the Bogotá City Hall in collaboration with the Orquesta Filarmónica de Bogotá.
Born in Bogotá, Colombia, Carlos Ágreda studied conducting and composition at the Juan N. Corpas University under the mentorship of Jorge Alejandro Salazar, graduating with summa cum laude honours in 2012. He continued his conducting studies at the Royal Northern College of Music on the prestigious Master’s programme under the tutelage of Clark Rundell and Mark Heron, graduating with distinction in 2016 before taking up a Conducting Fellowship at the Curtis Institute of Music. As a composer, Ágreda has won several prizes, including First Prize for both the Stockport Youth Orchestra Composition Competition (2016) and the Gustavo Gómez Ardila Composition Competition (2012). Several of his compositions have been performed by the leading professional orchestras in Colombia.
Lee Russo joined ESYO in 2015 and currently serves as the ESYO Youth Jazz conductor. Lee’s primary instruments are alto and tenor saxophone. A graduate of the Crane School of Music, Lee is the Director of Guilderland High School’s Jazz Ensemble and Concert Band. He also teaches woodwind lessons and music technology in the district. An active performer, Lee leads his own duo/trio/quartet, and plays with groups led by Joe Barna, Phil Allen and Michael Benedict. Lee has released two CD’s as a band leader: “Trading Off” (2006) and “The Abenaki” (2007). Lee studied with Paul Evoskevich and Jack Fragomeni at the College of Saint Rose and completed his studies at Crane 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. Lee is an ESYO Jazz Orchestra alumnus from 1990.
Richard Albagli joined ESYO in 1983 and currently serves as ESYO Repertory Percussion Ensemble and Youth Percussion Orchestra conductor. A graduate of RPI and Eastman School of Music, Richard 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.
When he is not conducting for ESYO, Richard is busy in his role as principal percussionist of the Albany Symphony Orchestra, as an adjunct professor at the University at Albany, and as a private teacher.
Mark Foster joined ESYO in 1987 and currently serves as ESYO Youth Percussion conductor. A graduate of the Eastman School of Music, Mark is a member of the Percussive Arts Society (PAS), Vic Firth Education and Hudson Music Teacher Integration Programs. In addition to his role at ESYO, Mark is a percussionist with the Albany Symphony Orchestra, and maintains a private percussion studio in Glenmont. Mark is widely respected as one of the premier drum set players in the region.
David Beck joined ESYO in 2000, and currently serves as the ESYO Repertory conductor. A graduate of Ithaca College and the Hartt School of Music, David’s primary instruments are cello, tuba and string & electric bass. David has been a string specialist in the Bethlehem Central School District since 1991. Throughout his tenure, David has taught string lessons and orchestral ensembles in grades six through 12, and has cultivated a notable chamber program, which he founded in 1994. Currently, David conducts the Bethlehem High School Concert Orchestra and Symphony, both ensembles of note in NYSSMA’s Major Organization Evaluation System. His chamber ensembles have performed for three New York governors at the governor’s mansion and have participated in master classes given by the Manhattan String Quartet and the Shanghai String Quartet.
David also works as a festival clinician throughout New York, Connecticut, and Florida and has presented workshops at conferences for CASDA, NYSBDA, and NYSSMA. He is a NYSSMA certified Solo/Ensemble Adjudicator, All-State Adjudicator, and Major Organization Adjudicator, 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. He also served as conductor for American Music Abroad and Cortland Chamber Orchestra. Previously, David was on the staff of Laurel Music Camp in Connecticut, and worked with the Delmar Community Orchestra, Connecticut Valley Chamber Orchestra, and the West Hartford Music Club.
Dr. Robert S. Hansbrough joined ESYO in 2000 and currently serves as the ESYO Wind Orchestra conductor. Robert’s primary instrument is percussion. A graduate of the University of South Florida and Florida State University, Robert is a music professor at The College of Saint Rose where he founded the College of Saint Rose Summer Youth Music program and served as its director for the first five years. Robert was also the inaugural director of The College of Saint Rose Pre-College Experience program. He is the co-author of “Music for Concert Band”, a selected wind band textbook published in February 2014 by Meredith Music Publications.
Robert’s teaching responsibilities include conducting the wind ensemble and chamber winds as well as courses in music education, instrumental conducting, and wind band literature. In addition to the ESYO Wind Orchestra, Robert conducts the Faculty Camerata Chamber Orchestra. Previous to his tenure at the College of Saint Rose, Robert served four years on the faculty of Western Kentucky University as associate director of bands and director of the "Big Red" marching band. During this appointment, he was selected as “University Teacher of The Year” by the Third District Music Educators Association.
Robert taught for 15 years in the Florida public school system. For 12 of those years, he was Director of Bands at Lincoln High School in Tallahassee where his bands consistently earned "Superior" ratings at The FBA District and State Festival Evaluations and performed at various invitational conferences. During that time, he was selected as The ASBDA Stanbury Award winner (recognizing excellence in young band directors) for the state of Florida, The Southeast Region was a National Finalist. During the last seven years in Tallahassee he served as the Coordinator of Instrumental Music for Leon County’s 37 public schools.
Robert has conducted honor bands throughout the United States and Europe and has adjudicated bands and orchestras from 26 states, Canada, Mexico, and Hungary. He has served on the National Band Association Board of Directors as the Eastern Division Chair. His articles and research have been published in several professional journals. His Dissertation, “A History of The Florida School Band Movement 1922-1995” has been cited by several publications and is in high demand for historical research in pivotal music education.
Robert holds professional memberships in NAFME, NYSBDA, NYSSMA, NBA, CBDNA, WASBE, Phi Mu Alpha, Pi Kappa Lambda, Kappa Kappa Psi, Phi Beta Mu and is a Lifetime Member of the Florida Bandmasters Association.
Joseph Gumpper joined ESYO in 2008 and currently serves as the ESYO String Orchestra conductor. Joe’s primary instrument is violin. A graduate of Crane School of Music and the College of Saint Rose, Joe began his career in the Shenendehowa School District, where he first taught in the elementary schools before becoming the director of the 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, Joe conducts three orchestras. Joe also maintains a private studio.
Joe has been guest conductor for several All-County and Area-All State festivals, and has conducted workshops for CASDA, a local teacher training organization. An active freelancer, Joe also plays fiddle with several local bands. He currently plays with Rusticator, an acoustic folk group.
John Antonio joined ESYO in 1994 and currently serves as ESYO Repertory conductor. A graduate of the College of Saint Rose, John taught music in the Albany City School District and was the program coordinator of the District’s summer music program, until his retirement in 2004. John maintains a private studio, and is responsible for giving many of the area’s top percussion players their start, including Matthew Ward and Grammy nominee Stefon Harris. John has been a guest conductor at numerous Area All-District music festivals.
Dave Fisk joined ESYO in 2018 as the ESYO Repertory Jazz Orchestra conductor. His primary instrument is saxophone. Dave’s father, amateur musician David Fisk Sr., introduced him to music at a young age, from Mozart to Hendrix to Paul Simon to Stan Getz; but it was when Dave’s father played Miles Davis’s album “Jazz Traxx” that Dave became “hooked” on jazz. The group on the album contained such notables as Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, Alto Sax and John Coltrane Tenor Sax.
A graduate of the Crane School of Music (music education with a minor in Jazz Studies), he studied with Robert Faub and Brett Zvacek, as well as Dave Dempsey, Jim Corigliano, Joe Magnarelli, Mark Vinci and Ralph Lalama.
Dave’s professional teaching career began at the Taconic Hills Central Schools. The past 20 years he has been at Niskayuna Central Schools where he is the director of two high school jazz ensembles and also teaches lessons and music theory class. Teaching music, especially jazz, is a passion for Mr. Fisk and continues to inspire him to this day.
In addition to teaching, Dave has been a regular performer in the Capital District. As a leader of his own quartet, he performs regularly at local venues. He is also a member of Keith Pray’s Big Soul Ensemble, Phil Allen Concert Jazz Band and has had the honor of being a guest with many other area Jazz musicians and groups.
Leo Milman joined ESYO in 2018 as the ESYO Concertino Strings conductor. A professional violinist and music educator, Leo studied the violin from a very young age. He holds degrees as a professional violinist from the Kiev School of Music and the Minsk Music Academy, where he studied with Olga Parkhomenko, and received a diploma with honors. Following this, he graduated from the College of St. Rose with an MA in Music Pedagogy.
While still a student of the Minsk Music Academy, Leo served as the assistant concertmaster in the Minsk Chamber Orchestra. While in that position Leo traveled around Eastern and Western Europe as a member of the orchestra as well as a soloist.
After moving to the United States, Leo pursued a teaching career and has been teaching music in public and private schools since 1995. Currently he is the string orchestra conductor for the Canajoharie School District. In 2006 he founded the Summer String Program, where he still serves as Music Director and conductor.
In addition to teaching, Leo is a soloist and member of a few chamber groups, performing in Albany and the surrounding Capital District. He is a founding member of Serenading Strings Ensemble and the Leonata String Ensemble.
Genoveffa Vitale joined ESYO in 2009 and currently serves as the ESYO Chamber Percussion conductor. A graduate of Crane School of Music and Walden University, Gen teaches elementary band, high school percussion lessons, and percussion ensemble in the Bethlehem Central School District, and maintains a private percussion studio. Gen worked with the Jordan-Elbridge Marching Band and Indoor Drum Lines from 2000-05 and the Mohonasen Marching Band from 2007-09. She has given mallet marimba clinics at SUNY OCC and SUNY Potsdam. While at Crane, Gen won the Crane Concerto Competition, conducted and performed in the two percussion ensembles, and obtained a Performance Certificate in percussion.
Julie Taylor is the Director of Bands at Bethlehem Central Middle School in Delmar, NY since 2007. She directs the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade bands, all lessons, and jazz band. Ms. Taylor earned a B.M. in Music Education and a Performance Certificate in Clarinet from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam, and a M.M. in Music Education from Ithaca College. She studied clarinet with M. David Schemancik, Dr. Alan Woy, Dr. Raphael Sanders, Dr. Michael Galvan, and Dr. Richard Faria. She is an active performing musician with Park Playhouse Pit Orchestra, The Capital Region Wind Ensemble, The Schenectady Symphony Orchestra, and numerous local pit orchestras as a woodwind specialist. She hosts Woodwind clinics throughout the Capital District, is a NYSSMA adjudicator, and has been honored to conduct All-County and Area All-State bands across New York State. Ms. Taylor mainatins a private clarinet studio which includes students attending NYSSMA All-State Conference and the NYSBDA All-State Honor Bands. She is grateful for the opportunity to inspire young musicians each and every day.
Scott Hopkins received music education degrees from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam and from the University of Connecticut with tuba as his primary instrument. Mr. Hopkins was a winner of the Crane Concerto Competition in 1996 on the tuba, and he also doubles on both bass and banjo. He has performed in concert bands, brass quintets, pit orchestras, and bluegrass, jazz and folk bands for over 30 years. As a music educator, Mr. Hopkins has taught and motivated hundreds of students and has most recently brought life to the grades 5-12 band program at Duanesburg Central School District through consistently high evaluations and a welcoming environment.
Rae Jean Teeter has been the Director of Vocal Music at Guilderland High School since 1995. While at Guilderland, Rae Jean 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 for “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.