Christopher Hisey (he/him)
Music Director/Principal Orchestra Conductor/Chamber Orchestra Conductor
Music Director and Alumnus of the Greater Connecticut Youth Orchestras (GCTYO), Christopher James Hisey, has conducted concerts throughout the United States…
Music Director and Alumnus of the Greater Connecticut Youth Orchestras (GCTYO), Christopher James Hisey, has conducted concerts throughout the United States, Europe, Mexico and China 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 GCTYO, 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 Music Director of the Civic Orchestra of New Haven, Connecticut Valley Chamber Orchestra, Troupers Light Opera Company, and Perrysburg Symphony Chorale, and as Associate Conductor of the Perrysburg Symphony, 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 was Director of Orchestras and Chamber Music at Greens Farms Academy in Westport, CT for more than 20 years and is now Chairman of the Performing Arts Department there.
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.
Polina Nazaykinskaya (she/her)
Philharmonic Orchestra Conductor
Polina Nazaykinskaya, a native of Togliatti, Russia has been studying music since the age of four. She composed her first large-scale work at fourteen. Ms. Nazaykinskaya is a sought after educator and composer.
Ms. Nazaykinskaya is an Adjunct Lecturer of Composition at Brooklyn College Conservatory and a Teaching Artist at the Educational Center for the Arts in New Haven. She has taught at various schools and universities throughout the United States, Russia and China, including Yale University and the Moscow Conservatory.
In addition to her work as a conductor and educator, Ms. Nazaykinskaya is an award-winning composer. Her commissions include works for both chamber and full orchestras, as well as art songs, film music, musicaltheater, opera, and ballet. Her latest symphonic poem, “Fenix,” is programmed for multiple performances in the 2021-2022 concert season and her orchestral music will be performed by the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra, the Salina Symphony, the Florida Orchestra, Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes, and the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. This spring, two new ballets by Ms. Nazaykinskaya, “The Rising” and “Encounters,” will be performed by the San Francisco Ballet and MorDance in NYC.
Ms. Nazaykinskaya has received many national and international awards, including the Charles Ives Scholarship from The American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, while her music has received laudatory reviews from the press. Her unique musical language embodies the diversity of multi-cultural education. She graduated from the Tchaikovsky Conservatory College in Moscow as a composition/violin double major, studying with Konstantin Batashov and Vladimir Ivanov. She earned her Masters’ and Artist Diploma in composition at the Yale School of Music with Christopher Theofanidis and Ezra Laderman. Currently, she is a Doctorate Candidate at The Graduate Center CUNY under the mentorship of Tania León.
Britney Alcine (she/her)
Virtuosi Orchestra Conductor
A graduate student studying orchestral conducting with conductor Morihiko Nakahara at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Ms. Alcine conducts the UMass Symphony Orchestra and assists in teaching…
Ms. Alcine conducts the UMass Symphony Orchestra and assists in teaching the undergraduate conducting course and the UMass Marching Band. Ms. Alcine is also the assistant conductor with the Eureka Ensemble in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she creates programming for concerts, community outreach, and student classes with the Midori and Friends organization. Ms. Alcine earned the appointment of Conducting Apprentice with the New York Youth Symphony in 2015-2016 where she studied with conductor Joshua Gersen and premiered works for chamber orchestra in concert. Ms. Alcine was recently awarded a full scholarship to attend the Eastman Leadership Academy in Rochester, NY this summer. She has also worked in collaboration with musicians and singers when she was the conductor for Avatar, The Last Airbender: The Musical in 2017. She continued her music directing efforts in her music education career as an elementary school music director of chorus and recorder ensemble from 2017-2019.
A native of New Jersey, Ms. Alcine has always lived a life involved with music. She grew up performing in many different ensembles and taking on any necessary roles. Although primarily a violist, Ms. Alcine considers herself a multi-instrumentalist and multi-faceted musician, having played not only the viola but instruments of the brass family, flute, percussion, and voice for ensembles that span from the pit orchestra to the marching band to the choir.
Ms. Alcine holds a Bachelors of Music in Instrumental Music Education from Rutgers University.
Gjorgj Kroqi (he/him)
Sinfonia 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…
He attended the music school “Prenk Jakova” in his native town of Shkoder, Albania. Mr. Kroqi earned his degree in cello performance and teaching from the “Academy of Fine Arts” in Tirana (Albania). From 1994-1998, he studied in Graz (Austria). During that time he was an active performer with various groups in the region including the orchestra of the Cathedral of Graz. Since arriving in Connecticut, Mr. Kroqi has performed with many orchestras including Waterbury Symphony, Bridgeport Symphony, Wallingford Symphony, New Britain Symphony and many other groups. From 2001-2016, Mr. Kroqi was the Music Director, Chamber Orchestra Conductor and Cello Coach of the Greater Waterbury Youth Symphony. Currently Mr. Kroqi is the orchestra director at Roger Ludlowe Middle School in Fairfield. He is also the cello teacher at The Taft School in Watertown, CT. Mr. Kroqi also teaches cello privately in the Fairfield and Cheshire areas. He joined GCTYO in the 2018-19 season as a String Coach, then taught Bravura Orchestra for 2 years before becoming conductor for Sinfonia.
Jim Clark (he/him)
Saxophone Orchestra Conductor
Jim Clark is a world-class saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist. Whether in the recording studio, performing in a local venue, or on stage at Carnegie Hall, his goal is the same – play from the heart with the highest level of musical excellence.
Jim Clark is a world-class saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist. He studied jazz with Warne Marsh, composition and theory at The Juilliard School of Music, and is an associate Fellow at Yale University Davenport College. Mr. Clark is the first artist to be contracted to arrange, perform, and record horn sections (saxophones, flute, trumpet, flugelhorn) for Band-in-a-Box®, a long-established software product by PG Music Inc. that provides intelligent, musical auto-accompaniment for musicians. He is an award-winning composer, having scored soundtracks in a wide variety of styles for numerous corporate clients. His most recent scoring project for strings and brass was “Christmas on Broadway” with CeCe Winans (Dec. 2021).
Mr. Clark’s passion for the saxophone and jazz has led him to create numerous themed multimedia programs, including “From Sea to Shining Sea – A Musical Journey Across America,” “Top Ten African American Jazz Saxophonists, “and “What is Jazz?” to entertain and educate his audiences. During the isolation of 2021, he was able to perform for live audiences virtually by converting his audio studio to include video broadcast and greenscreen capabilities. Mr. Clark has an ongoing private music practice. Whether in the recording studio, performing in a local venue, or on stage at Carnegie Hall, his goal is the same – play from the heart with the highest level of musical excellence.
Bruce Sloat (he/him)
String Orchestra Conductor
Bruce Sloat, a GCTYO 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.
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.
Alexander Davis (he/him)
Mr. Davis is the administrative manager of Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival in NYC and festival manager of Maine Chamber Music Seminar. He is the founder and artistic director of the Sugar Hill Salon Chamber Music series based in the rich and vibrant black community of Harlem, NY. An advocate of creating social impact cross-cultural influences in the arts, Mr. Davis founded this series to create more spaces to highlight underrepresented black and brown musicians in classical music.
In addition to teaching, Mr. Davis has an active performance career. He has performed with orchestras all over the country and with many influential chamber artists including Carol Wincenc, Frank Morelli, Stephen Taylor, William Purvis, WindScape, and the Imani Winds. He has also performed in multiple summer festivals such as Tanglewood, Banff Music Festival, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, Maine Chamber Music Seminar, American Wind Symphony Orchestra, and Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival.
Mr. Davis holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education and Performance from SUNY Fredonia, a Masters in Performance from Stony Brook University, and a Performers Certificate in Orchestral Performance from Manhattan School of Music. He is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Music at Stony Brook University.
Peyton Johnson (he/him)
Mr. Johnson completed his undergraduate studies as double major in Trumpet Performance and Music Teaching and Learning at the Eastman School of Music, studying with James Thompson, retired principal trumpet of the Montreal and Atlanta Symphonies. During his time at Eastman, he performed with the Eastman School Symphony Orchestra, Eastman Wind Orchestra, and the Eastman New Jazz Ensemble. He was a member of an Eastman Trumpet Ensemble that went to the Large Ensemble Division of the National Trumpet Competition. Mr. Johnson has also recorded with the world-renowned Eastman Wind Ensemble and Eastman Philharmonia Chamber Orchestra as principal trumpet. During the summer of 2016, he was a participant in the Eastern Music Festival.
Mr. Johnson is currently finishing his Master of Music degree in Trumpet Performance at The Hartt School in Hartford, CT, studying with Professor Phil Snedecor. At the Hartt School, he has performed with the Hartt Wind Ensemble and Orchestra and has been a featured soloist with the Hartt Brass Ensemble. After completing his Master’s Degree, he plans on pursuing a performing fellowship or beginning his Doctorate of Musical Arts in Trumpet Performance.
Brian Ente (he/him)
Percussion Orchestra Director
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 and curriculum…
… that have been passed down to them, continuing a 30-year tradition of excellence.
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 the GCTYO Percussion Ensemble at weekly rehearsals and conducts at concerts. He also teaches at the Jim Royle Drum Studio and is an active performer.
Jim Royle (he/him)
Steel Pan Orchestra Director
Jim Royle is an expert steel pan performer and the premier steel pan educator in the area. He has won numerous awards with his steel pan ensembles and received the 2018 ACE Educator Award from Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County.
Mr. Royle is a native of Connecticut and former president of the state chapter of the Percussive Arts Society for sixteen years. He was 2000 Chapter President of the Year. Mr. Royle attended the University of Bridgeport as a percussion and education major under the direction of Howard Zwickler, Arthur Lipner, and Bill Finegan. He 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. Although Mr. Royle 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.
Dr. Rex Cadwallader (he/him)
Jazz Program Director/Jazz Orchestra I Director
Dr. Cadwallader is one of the most respected jazz instructors in the area. He also performs as a jazz pianist and composes music. Several of his compositions have been performed by Greater Connecticut Youth Orchestras.
Currently Director of Bands in 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 in Arlington and Associate Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Northern Colorado. He has taught at the Royal Academy of Music in London, England, Marlborough College in Marlborough, England, Southern Connecticut State University, and the Neighborhood Music School in New Haven. He received his Doctor of Arts Degree in Composition and Music Theory from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, and his Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music in Composition degrees from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.
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, “A Balm in Gilead,” featuring Tiffany Jackson. That was preceded by “Sweet Perfume In An Alabaster Jar,” and “Quicker Than The Eye,” with bassist Mike Asetta and drummer Artie Dixson and “Broadway – West Side Story,” with flutist Ali Ryerson, bassist Mike Asetta and drummer Artie Dixson. 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, were released in 2002 and 2003, respectively. Dr. Cadwallader has also composed several works that have been debuted by the Greater Connecticut Youth Orchestras under the baton of Christopher Hisey, including “Citizen” in March 2018.
Dr. Cadwallader’s compositions for jazz band have been performed and recorded worldwide. With more than 100 published in the U.S., Japan and England, he is the recipient of awards from downbeat magazine, the NEA and the NEH. The newly-formed Rex Cadwallader Jazz Orchestra is making its first appearance at the December 2019 GCTYO Jazz Orchestra concert, playing a set of compositions from an upcoming album entitled “A Hundred Wild Horses,” through which he hopes to call even greater attention to the plight of the environment.
Geoffrey Brookes (he/him)
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…
He is passionate about teaching young musicians to develop their creativity through the jazz idiom.
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 Public Schools faculty in 2010. Mr. Brookes has composed many jazz audition etudes for the Western Region Music Festival. He currently teaches music in Derby, CT.
Glenn Alexander II (he/him)
A versatile young conductor and pianist whose musicality crosses many genres, Glenn Alexander II is known for his unique and passionate interpretations of the orchestral repertoire.
A versatile young conductor and pianist whose musicality crosses many genres, Glenn Alexander II is known for his unique and passionate interpretations of the orchestral repertoire.
Past performance highlights include serving as assistant music director at Prairie View A&M University for several school productions including “A Soundtrack to Black History” and “Black Nativity.” Mr. Alexander was also appointed as student conductor over both the University Concert Chorale and University Orchestra. As a pianist, he was selected by Prairie View A&M University to perform for Steinway & Sons President, Ron Losby, when Prairie View became an “All-Steinway School.”
Beyond classical music, Mr. Alexander recently co-produced a nationally renowned EP, “Kim Cruse.” He is also an accomplished gospel musician, having served as a pianist and organist for many congregations.
Mr. Alexander is pursuing a Professional Studies Certificate in conducting at the Manhattan School of Music under George Manahan and is a Fellow in Chicago Sinfonietta’s renowned Project Inclusion Freeman Conducting Fellowship program under conductor Mei-Ann Chen. He holds a Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting from the Bard College Conservatory of Music and a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Prairie View A&M University. His teachers and mentors include James Bagwell, Damien Sneed and Dr. Vicki A. Seldon. He is a brother of both Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America. He currently resides in New York City.
Adrienne Baker (she/her)
Flute Choir Conductor
A dedicated educator, Ms. Baker teaches privately – flute and piano – to students of diverse musical backgrounds and ages. There is no greater joy to her than to simultaneously foster a life long love of learning and appreciation for music.
Ms. Baker’s introduction to music started when she was a toddler crawling around her mother’s feet as she practiced Beethoven. Though active in her church as a pianist and singer, where her mother was Ministress of Music, she eventually discovered her love for the flute. Her musical journey on the instrument has taken her across the United States and to Europe. She currently champions music influenced by artists of color and works to expose audiences to these lesser-known composers. A socially conscious artist, Ms. Baker strives to use her voice to help others find theirs.
Ms. Baker holds Suzuki Certification in Flute and she is a Teaching Artist in the RAMP Program through the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. In addition to her many roles as a professional musician, Ms. Baker is a student at Rutgers University pursuing a Doctorate in Musical Arts. She also composes and arranges. Her first composition, Opal’s Boogie, was inspired by her friendship with her colleague’s family and their pugnacious and lovable pug, Opal. Ms. Baker will graduate in 2022.
GCTYO’s Principal Orchestra is one of the most acclaimed youth ensembles in the region. Principal Orchestra takes a deep dive into the world’s great symphonic literature, including world premieres and collaborative projects. Students are challenged to achieve the highest level of musical performance with rehearsals that are inspiring and designed to stretch students beyond what they thought possible. Principal Orchestra is conducted by GCTYO alumnus and Music Director Christopher Hisey.
Philharmonic Orchestra is designed to give students their first experience with advanced orchestral repertoire, including world premieres and collaborative projects. Students will be inspired to take the next steps in their musical development through challenging repertoire, training in advanced orchestral techniques, and fast-paced rehearsals. Philharmonic Orchestra is conducted by Polina Nazaykinskaya.
Virtuosi Orchestra, GCTYO’s first full orchestra experience, is designed to get students excited about the world of orchestral repertoire. Virtuosi provides its musicians with the opportunity to perform at an advanced level while gaining valuable experience and training that will prepare them to enter the highest levels of the GCTYO program. Virtuosi Orchestra is conducted by Britney Alcine.
Sinfonia Orchestra, a strings-only ensemble, provides its students an opportunity to reinforce fundamental skills (key signatures, rhythm and intonation), gain confidence, and build the solid technique needed to advance through our program. Sinfonia Orchestra is conducted by Gjorgj Kroqi.
Wind Orchestra, a winds-only ensemble, provides its students an opportunity to reinforce fundamental skills (key signatures, rhythm and intonation, breath control, and sound production), gain confidence, and build the solid technique needed to advance through our program.
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 want to learn an orchestral instrument such as bassoon, French horn, trombone, or oboe, so that they can move into Virtuosi Orchestra and beyond. GCTYO offers free lessons for one year to these students. Wind Orchestra is conducted by Brian Miller.
String Orchestra provides fundamental ensemble experience to string students. Students learn what it’s like to play in an orchestra and become part of a team. They will learn key skills such as rhythm, intonation, sound production, bow technique, and key signatures. String Orchestra is conducted by Bruce Sloat.
Woodwinds Orchestra provides fundamental ensemble experience to our youngest woodwind students. Students learn what it’s like to be part of a woodwind section. They will learn key skills like rhythm, intonation, sound production, breath control, and key signatures. Woodwinds Orchestra is instructed by Alexander Davis.
Brass Orchestra provides fundamental ensemble experience to brass students. Students learn what it’s like to be part of a brass section. They will learn key skills like rhythm, intonation, sound production, breath control, and key signatures. Brass Orchestra is instructed by Peyton Johnson.
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 managed by the staff of the acclaimed Jim Royle Drum Studio and is conducted by GCTYO alumnus Brian Ente.
Steel Pan Orchestras
Steel Pan was added to GCTYO offerings in Spring 2021. It is intended as a gateway to the benefits of high-quality music education that GCTYO provides. Steel Pan is a non-audition, no experience necessary, ensemble. It is open to students of all ages who want to learn different musical genres and skills. Steel Pan is conducted by expert pannist and educator Jim Royle.
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.
Chamber Music with Stamford Symphony
GCTYO provides chamber music training for both beginner and intermediate/advanced level students in partnership with Stamford Symphony. The program is available to current GCTYO students. Students are placed in small string groups and receive weekly private instruction from a Stamford Symphony musician. Concerts are held a few times a year.
GCTYO’s newest ensemble, Flute Choir, is for intermediate to advanced fluists who want to hone their skills and explore their instrument more closely through small group music-making. Flute Choir meets in the afternoon after regular orchestra rehearsals and is conducted by New York City-based Adrienne Baker.