Chautauqua County Teachers’ Association To Sponsor Annual Concert

CHAUTAUQUA – The Chautauqua County Music Teachers’ Association will sponsor its annual Spring All-County Concert in the Chautauqua Institution’s Amphitheater at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 1.

The concert features the county’s best student musicians from the 20 school districts located in Chautauqua County, in any one of several music ensembles. Featured are the Elementary, Junior High, and Senior High All-County choruses, and the Junior and Senior High All-County bands.

Each student is selected first by their school’s music teacher and from there the list is pared down by association chairpeople, who select the students – in some cases by audition, teacher recommendation, or through a score received by playing a solo for a New York state-certified music adjudicator – who will make the final roster for each group.

The Elementary Chorus of more than 200 fifth- and sixth-graders will open the concert, conducted by Erin Scudder. Scudder is in her ninth year as vocal music director at Amherst Middle School, where she conducts three large choral ensembles, three small choral ensembles and teaches general music. She also directs and produces the school’s annual musical production. She is actively involved with the Erie County Music Educators Association where she serves as a member of the Executive Board. Scudder has music education and vocal performance degrees from Houghton College and a master’s degree in music education from the University at Buffalo, where she studied with Edwin Gordon. Casey Gray, adjunct faculty member at the State University at Fredonia, will accompany the Elementary Chorus.

Following the Elementary Chorus will be the All-County Junior High Chorus, led by Dr. D. Jason Bishop, director of choral and vocal studies and assistant professor of music at Drew University in Madison, N.J. In 2009, Bishop was named Outstanding Young Conductor of the Year by the American Choral Directors Association of Pennsylvania and was president-elect of that organization from 2011-12. Accompanying the Junior High Chorus will be Dr. Sarah Kahl, who is a member of the adjunct music faculty at Mercyhurst University. She also is the accompanist for the college choirs at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, the Young People’s Chorus of Erie and the Erie Philharmonic Chorus.

The All-County Junior High Band will be conducted by Dr. John Coggiola. Coggiola is a dual associate professor of music education in the College of Visual & Performing Arts and the School of Education, as well as the chair of the Music Education Department in the Setnor School of Music at Syracuse University. As a jazz conductor and performer, Coggiola has shared the stage with such jazz greats as Don Menza, Howie Shear, Dr. Billy Taylor, and Freddie Hubbard and performs with the Syracuse University Faculty Jazz Quintet. Coggiola holds a bachelor of arts in applied trumpet from the State University at Fredonia, a Master of Music Education, a Master of Music in Jazz Performance and a Doctor of Philosophy in Music Education from Florida State University.

Brenda Nitsch will conduct the All-County Senior High Chorus. At Webster Thomas High School, Nitsch conducts the choirs and ensembles, directs the musical and serves as music department lead teacher. She co-coordinates the Monroe County School Music Association’s All-County Festival SATB Choir and directs an annual summer creative arts camp. Nitsch also contributes as guest clinician/presenter at area college workshops and NYSSMA Conventions. She holds a bachelor of music degree from Marywood University, a master of science in music education from Mansfield University and a master of music in vocal performance from the Eastman School of Music. She was named Music Educator of the Year. Westfield choral teacher Kent Knappenberger will accompany the Senior High Chorus.

The last performing group will be the All-County Senior High Band, directed this year Dr. Stephen L. Gage, professor of music and director of bands at Youngstown State University’s Dana School of Music. He holds degrees from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the Eastman School of Music and SUNY Fredonia, where he also earned the Performers Certificate. Gage has written numerous published articles on conducting, rehearsal techniques and wind band literature, and he is an active wind band and orchestral guest conductor, clinician and adjudicator of international repute. Gage and the Youngstown State Wind Ensemble made their Carnegie Hall debut in 2005 and the group has produced seven CD recordings. The sixth CD in this series, Urban Requiem, was released on the NAXOS International Recording Label in June 2008 with numerous outstanding critical reviews and the seventh, Old Wine In New Bottles was released by NAXOS in August 2012.

Since the 1960s, the concert’s finale has been Wilhousky’s arrangement of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” performed by a combination of the junior and senior high bands and choruses. This year the finale will be directed by guest conductor Nina Karbacka, retired music teacher from the Jamestown Public Schools.

The concert itself lasts less than two hours, but the time and preparation that go into the festival far exceed that moment in time on stage. Students begin rehearsing their music as soon as they receive it from their chairperson, sometime in early spring.

On the day of the concert, these dedicated student musicians begin arriving on the Institution’s grounds between 8 and 8:30 a.m. for a prompt 9 a.m. rehearsal start. The day continues with rehearsals, lunch and a few small breaks in between, until the students have dinner and dress for the concert.

The 2013 CCMTA Scholarship winners will be presented to the audience at this concert. On May 8, the association hosted scholarship auditions at Forestville High School. These scholarships are awarded to Chautauqua County music students for summer music camp, private instruction or toward college expenses, should the student choose a career path in music.

The Scholarship award winners are as follows:


Kathleen Mosier, clarinet, Fredonia High School

Shelby Maberry, voice, Southwestern High School.



Brianne Ihasz, Voice, Fredonia High School.


Jade Ferneza, vibraphone Forestville Central School

Adam Girts, violin, Southwestern High School

Taylor Latour, voice, Southwestern High School

Emma Mason, voice, Westfield Academy

Mateo Mendez, oboe, Forestville Central School

Heather Yeager, euphonium, Panama Central School


Daniel Milliman, French horn, Pine Valley Central School

Haileigh Pawlak, voice, Dunkirk Middle School

Sarah Tilley, oboe, Westfield Academy

Maverick Tomczak, snare drum, Jefferson Middle School.

In addition to the Spring All-County Festival and providing music study scholarships, the association also sponsors a Winter All-County Music Festival each February featuring the Elementary Band, Women’s Chorus, Jazz Chorus, Percussion or Brass Ensemble and the Jazz Ensemble. In addition, the association runs a solo festival in February where students prepare and play for a New York state-certified music adjudicator, who in turn provides the student with comments and tips on how to improve his or her musicianship.

Tickets will be available at the amphitheater gate 30 minutes prior to the concert. Adult tickets are $5; student and senior tickets are $3. Parking in the institution lot will be free.