William Stevens is an active performer and conductor throughout the Hudson Valley. His professional conducting experience includes numerous musical productions with the Admiral Players; principal conductor of the Hudson Valley Saxophone Orchestra; and guest conductor for the Northern Dutchess Symphony where he led the New York State premiere of the Scott Routenberg Concerto for Jazz Violin and Orchestra. He was also chosen as a conducting finalist for the Woodstock Chamber Orchestra (WCO) in their 2016-2017 Season and was reviewed by Leslie Gerber of Hudson Valley One: “I have never heard the WCO sound as good as it did during this concert…. Those of us who were in the audience were lucky to be there.”
During the day, William is one of the band and jazz band directors at Union Vale Middle School in the Arlington Central School District in LaGrangeville, NY, with a middle school band program of around 300 students. His ensembles have consistently received NYSSMA Major ratings of Gold and Gold with Distinction, as well as placing first in their division, first overall, and with ratings of Superior at Music in the Parks festivals. He founded the UVMS Jazz Band and has also placed first at Music in the Parks festivals with individual students earning soloist awards.
William has been sought after as an All-County conductor and has led groups in Broome, Montgomery, Orange, Putnam, Sullivan, and Tioga counties. He is currently the principal clarinetist for the Northern Dutchess Symphony Orchestra and the Greater Newburgh Symphony, and has performed in Europe and at Carnegie Hall with the New York Wind Symphony. William received his Bachelor of Music Education and Performance degree from SUNY Fredonia, and his Masters degree in Clarinet Performance from Ithaca college. He has studied conducting with Dr. Russel C. Mikkelson (former Director of Bands, SUNY Fredonia), Dr. Paula Holcomb (Director of Bands, SUNY Fredonia), Dr. David Rudge (former Director of Orchestras, SUNY Fredonia), and Dr. Steve Petersen (former Director of Bands, Ithaca College). William lives in Poughkeepsie, NY with his supportive husband Chris.
Carolyn Lechuzsa Aquallo
I understand a biography as a summarization of one's accomplishments. These accomplishments are the steps to where one finds oneself at the moment, the implication being that the steps are unique and prove one's merit for the operation at hand. Why am I writing this explanation instead of diving into listing my qualifications to prove that I am exceptionally musical, especially more than average? It is because the art of conducting is undefinable as there is no one way to capture how effective a conductor is or can be. This essence of undefinability captures, for me, what conducting is. I see it as a mixture of musical experiences: performance, composition, improvisation, as listener, as teacher, and as a person living in this messy world.
Even the word conductor is a misnomer- as the English conducting maestro Colin Metters says, a conductor influences and captures the essence of an individual's perspective, musical and non-musical. It is not about control, or even the specific notes themselves but understanding how all elements come together in the moment of partnership between the "conductor," musicians, the audience, the architectural venue, and even the time period the event finds itself in. The art of conducting is how to bring the music off the page and how to create a personal narrative. In the words of the great conductor Ilya Music: "Make the music visible." This is done with gesture, movement, facial expression, listening, and receiving what the musicians give. All in the moment of a composition's performance so that a piece of music is continually changing and never fixed.
My mixture of experiences does indeed include life as a working classical cellist, from chamber music to symphonic orchestras, and I am greatly indebted to the Catalan cellist Luis Garcia-Renart, in addition to the musicians I have had the privilige to perform with. Other experiences as a composition student with Joan Tower at Bard College (B.A.), free improvisation with Fred Frith at Oakland's Mills College (MFA), improvisation with Jimmy Cheatham and Mark Dresser at the University of California, San Diego, (PhD studies), and as an educator with my students in Southern California (MAT, Longy School of Music). I have had memorable performances with the San Diego Orchestra Nova, The Hutchins Consort in San Diego, the Vinny Golia Large Ensemble in Oakland, the Punk Rock Orchestra in San Fransisco, conduction improvisation concerts with Fred Frith and the Mills Contemporary Ensemble, as well as concerts with conductors Leif Segerstam, Leon Fleisher, Robert Spano, Harvey Sollberger, and Jung-Ho Pak.
It was in Los Angeles where I was able to pair social activism and music education with the Los Angeles Philharmonic El Sistema outreach programs. And finally this is where I truly earned to be a musician: from my students' natural curiosity, unlimited imaginiation, youthful joy and angst. This is where I learned what is important in music- to go beyond the tool of notation or instrument to create a musical narrative. This is what Colin Metters, my conducting mentor, also stresses: to create an individual narrative with a composition that lifts the music off the page. And so that is what I strive for in anything I do musically and I look forward to the journey: "It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive."
Adam V. Fontana is passionate about music education, the art of conducting, and the important role music plays in our society. A native of the Hudson Valley, he returned home to join the faculty at SUNY New Paltz in Fall 2020 as an assistant professor of music, where he conducts the Symphonic Band, served as interim director of the College-Youth Symphony for two years, and teaches courses in music and music education. Fontana previously served as the Director of Instrumental Music at Bethel College from 2016-2020. While at Bethel College, he conducted the Bethel College Wind Ensemble and Bethel College Philharmonia Orchestra, and taught courses in music education, conducting, and the music of The Beatles. Under his direction, both the Bethel
Wind Ensemble and Philharmonia Orchestra were selected to perform at the 2018 Kansas Music Educators Association state conference.
Fontana was selected to be a participant in the 2019 Conductors Guild Frederick Fennell Memorial Conducting Masterclass at the Eastman School of Music. He was also chosen to be a Conducting Fellow in the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic’s inaugural Reynolds Conducting Institute in December 2018. He was the founder and conductor of the Hudson Valley Chamber Winds, a professional chamber music ensemble in Washingtonville, NY, and led them to a performance at the 2012 College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA) Eastern Division Conference. He has appeared as guest conductor with the Nebraska Wind Symphony, Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra, Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra, Cortlandt Chamber Orchestra, and numerous honor bands across six states.
Fontana has nine years of public school music teaching experience. He has presented his research at multiple national and regional CBDNA conferences, and has presented clinics at state music educator conferences in New York, Connecticut, and Kansas. He holds degrees in music education and conducting from SUNY Potsdam, Columbia University-Teachers College, The Hartt School, and the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music & Dance. He has studied conducting with Steven Davis, Glen Adsit, Dino Anagnost and Timothy Topolewski, and clarinet with Alan Woy and Tom Scott.
Mina Kim, hailed as a “spirited conductor” by Brooklyn Discovery, currently serves as the Director of the Purchase Symphony Orchestra at the Purchase College Conservatory of Music. For the 2021-2022 season, along with her PSO directorship, Ms. Kim performed a spectrum of symphonic works, including a special request from Joshua Bell to rehearse Thomas de Hartmann’s Violin Concerto in the Performing Arts Center. She has also been invited to conduct The Chappaqua Orchestra and the Area All-State Symphony Orchestra/WSCMA as the Guest Conductor.
Ms. Kim previously served as the Assistant Conductor of the Mannes American Contemporary Ensemble and was the Chorus Master and Opera Coach of The Mannes Opera during the 2015-2018 seasons.
As an active concert and collaborative pianist, vocal coach and chamber musician, Ms. Kim’s piano
highlights include performances with the Savaria Symphony, Shanghai Symphony, Busan Philharmonic, Purchase Symphony Orchestra, and a New York City debut recital at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall after receiving the Artist International’s "Special Presentation Award". Ms. Kim has participated in renowned music festivals including the Vienna Music Seminar in Austria and the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival in Maine. She has also been an opera coach for Classic Lyric Arts in France and Italy since 2017.
Ms. Kim earned a B.M. at Busan National University in South Korea, an M.M. and an Artist Diploma at Purchase College in Piano Performance, a Professional Studies Diploma in Vocal Collaborative Piano from Mannes School of Music where she was awarded the Newton Swift Award. Ms. Kim also studied Orchestral Conducting with David Hayes as the recipient of the President’s Scholarship Award at the Mannes School of Music.
Since 2006, Ms. Kim has been a member of the faculty at the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College where she enjoys lecturing and is a coach and mentor to many music students.