Music Director/Principal Orchestra Conductor/Chamber Orchestra Conductor
Music Director and Alumnus of the Greater Bridgeport Youth Orchestras (GBYO), Christopher James Hisey, has conducted concerts throughout the United States…
Music Director and Alumnus of the Greater Bridgeport Youth Orchestras (GBYO), Christopher James Hisey, has conducted concerts throughout the United States, Europe, Mexico and China and with such notable musicians as Sir James Galway, Tim Janis, Jackie Evancho, James Dunham, Chris Finckel and Deborah Wong.
In addition to his duties with GBYO, Maestro Hisey serves as Music Director of the American Chamber Orchestra and is Co-founder and Music Director of the Connecticut Philharmonic. He has also served as the Music Director of the Civic Orchestra of New Haven, Connecticut Valley Chamber Orchestra, the Troupers Light Opera Company, and Perrysburg Symphony Chorale as well as the Associate Conductor of both the Perrysburg Symphony and the Bowling Green Philharmonia and Opera Theater Orchestras.
Maestro Hisey has been a guest and cover conductor of the Greater Bridgeport Symphony and has made appearances with the Ruse Philharmonic and Pleven Philharmonic in Bulgaria, and the St. Petersburg “Klassika” Symphony, formerly the Leningrad State Philharmonic, in St. Petersburg, Russia.
A champion of new music, Maestro Hisey frequently premieres new works. Emmy Award Winning composer Rex Cadwallader recently said of Maestro Hisey’s work, “He is an advocate for new music, and a caring and careful medium through whom my music has been brought gracefully and powerfully to life.“
A passionate and sought after music educator, Maestro Hisey frequently appears as guest adjudicator and clinician at schools and festivals throughout the region. His student orchestras have won top prizes in competition and have been invited to appear at Carnegie Hall, NAFME Eastern Music Festival and other festivals and concerts in the United States and abroad. He has served as Professor of Conducting, Orchestration and Music Director of the Orchestra at Manhattanville College and Professor of Conducting and Music Director of the Orchestra at Fairfield University. Maestro Hisey has been Director of Orchestras and Chamber Music at Greens Farms Academy in Westport, CT for 20 years.
Maestro Hisey holds a bachelor’s degree in Viola Performance from the Eastman School of Music and master’s degree in Conducting from Bowling Green State University. He has been fortunate to study conducting with Emily Freeman Brown, David Effron, Gustav Meier, Donald Portnoy, and Donald Hunsberger.
Bravura Orchestra Conductor
Gjorgj Kroqi started playing cello at the age of six. He attended the music school “Prenk Jakova” in his native town of Shkoder, Albania. Mr. Kroqi earned his degree in cello performance…
Symphony Orchestra Conductor
Lynda Smith joined GCTYO in 2018. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Montana State University and a Master’s Degree in Music Education from Central Connecticut…
Concert Orchestra Conductor
Erica Messina earned her Bachelor’s Degree from the Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music, and a Master’s Degree in Music Education from the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College/CUNY.
Mrs. Messina and her family moved to Connecticut in 1997 and she has been a member of the Westport Public Schools music faculty since 1998. She has taught on the elementary, middle, and high school levels, and is currently the Orchestra Director at Saugatuck Elementary School in Westport, where she regularly has between 120 and 140 fourth and fifth graders in her orchestra program each year.
From 2007-2009, Mrs. Messina served as conductor of the Prelude Orchestra for the Norwalk Youth Symphony. Currently, Mrs. Messina is in her 9th season with the Greater Connecticut Youth Orchestras where she conducts the Concert Orchestra. Mrs. Messina has travelled with GCTYO on all its overseas trips. In addition to all her teaching responsibilities, she plays viola with the American Chamber Orchestra.
String Orchestra Conductor
Bruce Sloat, a GBYO alumnus, graduated from Western Connecticut State University with a Bachelor of Music Degree in Viola Performance. There he was a recipient of the James Furman Memorial Chamber Music Award…
There he was a recipient of the James Furman Memorial Chamber Music Award. Mr. Sloat is a violinist in the Donn Trenner Orchestra and has performed at Mohegan Sun with Josh Groban, Celtic Woman, and Earth, Wind & Fire. He currently performs in the Danbury Symphony where he has served as Principal Violinist and Principal Violist. He is also a member of the Ives Festival Orchestra and American Chamber Orchestra. As the violist of the Barber String Quartet, he performed concerts throughout Poland on a U.S. Embassy endorsed tour. An active chamber musician, Mr.Sloat is a member of Trio Dolce and the Ives Chamber Players. He has performed regularly throughout New York and Connecticut, including venues such as St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Stamford’s Rich Forum, Danbury Music Centre and benefit performances for OXFAM and the Kosciusko Foundation. Mr. Sloat has taught in the Fairfield County area for nearly 20 years, and currently serves on the string faculties of Fairfield University, Greens Farms Academy, Westport School of Music, Enchanted Garden and Music & Arts. He has also served as a strings coach for the Western Connecticut State University Summer Strings Camp and conducted at the Monroe Music Enrichment Program.
Wind Orchestra Conductor
Brian Miller is the Wind Orchestra Conductor for the Greater Connecticut Youth Orchestras and also teaches at King School in Stamford, Connecticut. After earning his Master’s degree in Trumpet Performance…
Dr. Rex Cadwallader
Jazz Program Director/Jazz Orchestra I Director
Currently Chairman of the Performing Arts Department at Greens Farms Academy in Westport, Connecticut, Dr. Cadwallader has served as Assistant Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Texas…
Dr. Cadwallader has played with such jazz luminaries as Rufus Reid, Bob Mintzer, Eddie Daniels, Ed Shaunessey, Bill Watrous, Don Menza, Clark Terry, Ali Ryerson, Joe Beck, Giacomo Gates, and many others. He appears as performer or composer on over twenty-five albums including his most recent cds, “Quicker Than The Eye,” with bassist Mike Asetta and drummer Artie Dixson, “Broadway – West Side Story,” with flutist Ali Ryerson, bassist Mike Asetta and drummer Artie Dixson, and “The Art Of Trio,” with bassist David Chevan. The cd, “Repartee,” also with David Chevan was released in January 2000. A CD of original contemporary jazz with drummer Rich MacDonald entitled “The Cadwallader/MacDonald Project – YOUR SMILE” was released in 1998 on Jaybird Records. Two other recordings, “Christmas In The Neighborhood” with bassist Mike Asetta, and “In A Mellow Tone,” a tribute to the music of Duke Ellington with bassist David Chevan and drummer Jesse Hameen II, were released in 2002 and 2003, respectively. Dr. Cadwallader has composed several works that have been debuted by Greater Connecticut Youth Orchestras under the baton of Christopher Hisey, including Citizen in March 2018.
Jazz Orchestra II Director
Mr. Brookes joined GCTYO in the 2017-18 season. He has been directing both middle school and high school level jazz ensembles since 2006. He is passionate about teaching young musicians…
Mr. Brookes completed his undergraduate studies in music education at the University of Connecticut in 2006, receiving a BA in Music and a BS in Education. At UConn, he studied jazz with Earl MacDonald and Kenny Davis, as well as trumpet with James Ackley. He earned an MA in conducting through the American Band College of Sam Houston State University in 2013. Mr. Brookes started his teaching career in the Litchfield Public Schools in 2006 and joined the Fairfield Woods Middle School faculty in 2010. Mr. Brookes teaches concert band and jazz ensemble at FWMS and has composed audition etudes for the Western Region Music Festival.
Brian Ente with Jim Royle
Percussion Orchestra Directors
The Jim Royle Drum Studio Faculty is made up entirely of former students from the Drum Studio with college degrees in music performance or education. They all share the same philosophies…
James L. Royle is a native of Connecticut and former president of the state chapter of the Percussive Arts Society’s for sixteen years, and 2000 Chapter President of the Year. Jim attended the University of Bridgeport as a percussion and education major under the direction of Howard Zwickler, Arthur Lipner, and Bill Finegan. Jim has also studied various aspects of percussion with world recognized masters such as Max Roach, Alan Dawson, Keith Copeland, Akira Tana, Norbert Goldberg, Vernal Fournier and Pan Master Professor Philmore.
Brian Ente, a GCTYO alumnus, is a musician and composer who studied at Ithaca College with Gordon Stout and Conrad Alexander. A Connecticut native, he is a former vice president of the state’s chapter of the Percussive Arts Society, and works to improve the performance standards and education of percussion both in his local area of Bridgeport/Fairfield, and across the state, taking part as a composer and judge for the Western Region Music Festival on both the middle school and high school levels. Mr. Ente coaches Percussion Ensemble at weekly rehearsals and conducts at concerts and teaches at the Jim Royle Drum Studio.
Although Jim enjoys his own performance career, his love of music and the pleasure of passing this love onto future musicians are equally important to him. His studio now in its 20th year, is well known for turning out remarkable performers and all of his students are exposed to many aspects of percussion.
GCTYO’s Principal Orchestra is one of the most acclaimed youth ensembles in the region. The caliber of its 100 members is confirmed by GCTYO student selection for participation in Regional, All-State, All-New England, and National Music Festivals. The Principal Orchestra plays the world’s great symphonic literature at a high level of performance and musicianship. In addition to three or more concerts per year at The Klein in Bridgeport, Principal Orchestra has performed throughout Connecticut and in a number of other states. Principal Orchestra is conducted by Music Director Christopher Hisey.
Bravura….1 music: a musical passage requiring exceptional agility and technical skill in execution. 2: a florid brilliant style. 3: a show of daring or brilliance.
Bravura Orchestra was formed in 2019 to give advanced string musicians the unique experience of performing challenging chamber music in a small group setting. Bravura gives musicians the opportunity to hone their musical skills prior to entering Principal Orchestra. Bravura is conducted by Gjorgj Kroqi.
Symphony Orchestra made its debut in the 1997-98 season. It was created to provide an opportunity for advanced players to continue to grow musically prior to moving into the Principal Orchestra. Symphony is conducted by Lynda Smith.
Concert Orchestra was formed in 1980 to accommodate younger musicians who demonstrate an interest in a youth symphony experience. Concert Orchestra provides its musicians with the opportunity to perform at an advanced level while gaining valuable experience and training prior to entering the Symphony Orchestra. Concert is conducted by Erica Messina.
String Orchestra, formed in 1990, provides fundamental ensemble experience for GCTYO’s youngest string musicians. It is conducted by Gjorgj Kroqi.
Wind Orchestra offers young woodwind, brass and percussion players focused training for performing with an orchestral sound and in orchestral keys. Wind Orchestra accepts “non-orchestral” instruments such as saxophones, bass clarinet, and baritone. Often, students who join Wind Orchestra playing a non-orchestral instrument find they love GCTYO so much that they learn an orchestral instrument such as bassoon, French horn, trombone, or oboe, so that they can move into Concert Orchestra and beyond. GCTYO offers free lessons for one year to these students. Wind Orchestra is conducted by Brian Miller.
The GCTYO Jazz Orchestras play jazz classics with a “big band” sound. They explore and perform repertoire from past and present to keep this exciting musical medium alive. Both Jazz Orchestras meet after the other ensembles finish rehearsal. Students who wish to audition for Jazz must be enrolled in one of the other GCTYO ensembles. Jazz Orchestra 1 is conducted by renowned jazz pianist Dr. Rex Cadwallader and is for more experienced musicians. Because of the popularity of GCTYO’s Jazz program, a second Jazz Orchestra was added in the 2017-18 season. It is conducted by Geoffrey Brookes.
Percussion Orchestra was formed in 2017 to improve the experience of percussionists in the youth orchestra setting. Members of Percussion Orchestra are each assigned to another ensemble such as Principal, Symphony or Concert Orchestra so that they can rehearse and perform with the full orchestra. In addition, Percussion holds its own sectionals where students learn to play the full range of orchestral percussion instruments. At concerts, Percussion Orchestra performs its own set and plays with the other orchestras. Percussion Orchestra is conducted by Brian Ente from the Jim Royle Drum Studio.
Chamber Orchestra is GCTYO’s most advanced ensemble. It is comprised of Principal Orchestra musicians who audition for their seats and rehearse after Principal Orchestra ends. Chamber Orchestra performs challenging, baroque-style music at special concerts throughout the year. It is conducted by Music Director and Principal Orchestra conductor Christopher Hisey.