Author Archives: Irene Hickey

From the GSO Historian

How Do You Like Them So Far?

The 2015-2016 Season has been a transitional year for the Genesee Symphony Orchestra. Replacing a long-time conductor is never easy, but we are nearly there. We have seen the artistic exuberance of S. Shade Zajak directing music from around the world; the accomplished Yunn-Shan Ma with the glorious holiday feast; the heart pounding flutes and flourishes under the expert direction of Nicholas DelBello. Next, experience an All-American program created by the talented Bryan Eckenrode.

With the help of our audience and musician surveys, and recommendations from our selection committee, the GSO Board will choose one of these wonderful candidates to take the baton and lead the GSO into the future.                                                                                                                                                                        So sit back, relax, and enjoy our final concert of the season. Then think – Whom would you like to see as the successor to a long line of talented GSO conductors?                                                                                                                                                                                 Want to learn more about the Genesee Symphony Orchestra and its conductors?          Visit the memory books in the reference section of the Richmond Memorial Library or the permanent display at the Holland Land Office Museum where a complete list of the Symphony’s conductors is on display.                                                                                                                                                 ~Joanne Tumminello, GSO Historian

GSO Young Artist Competition 2016

The GSO’s 9th Annual Young Artist Competition was held March 14th at the First Presbyterian Church in Batavia.  Eleven exceptionally talented Junior and Senior High School musicians from Western New York were featured.  All artists received a Certificate of Achievement in recognition of their talent, discipline, and dedication.

This year’s contestants were:                                                                                                Epongue Ekille – Violin                             Sarah Engel – Voice                                             Mason Fuller – Voice                                Jackie Hager – Cello                                        Joyce Luo – Cello                                    Michael McClure – Piano                                       Shannon Roberts – Viola                         Gabriella Smart – Voice                                  Amelia Snyder – Alto Saxophone             McKena Stickney – Flute                                       Jarod Yap – Piano

The adjudication panel consisted of Conductor Bryan Eckenrode, GSO musicians Greg Docenko and Pamela Wentworth, and music educators Roxie Choate and Jackie McLean.

The GSO is excited to announce this year’s three winners. They are:

                                     Jackie Hager (Rochester) – Cello                                                              Amelia Snyder (Rochester) – Alto Saxophone                                                                             Jarod Yap (Clarence Center) – Piano

Jackie Hager, Cello

Jackie Hager, Cello

Amelia Snyder, Alto Saxophone

Amelia Snyder, Alto Saxophone

Jarod Yap, Piano

Jarod Yap,








The Young Artist Competition winners will be featured as soloists with the GSO during       the 2016-2017 concert season.

Congratulations to our accomplished Young Artists for 2016!

Thank you to all who contributed to making this event a success!

High Notes – Q & A with Musician Danielle Perry

Danielle Perry

Danielle Perry










Name: Danielle Perry                                                                                               Residence: Batavia, NY                                                                                     Occupation: Payroll Generalist for Batavia Downs Gaming                                                Years with the GSO: 4

Q.  Which instrument/s do you play?                                                                                 A.  Percussion and some piano    

Q.  What was your first instrument?  When and why did you start playing?                       A.  I started taking piano lessons when I was 7 years old.  My entire family played                    the piano; it was the thing to do!     

Q.  What are your fondest musical memories?                                                                    A.  Marching in the Tournament of Roses Parade with the Attica High School                           Marching Band

Q.  What advice would you give to beginning instrumental students?                                  A.  Don’t give up on learning an instrument!  Stick with what you enjoy.  If                                 something becomes dull or uninteresting to you, change it up – try a new                           instrument, try a new approach, but never give it up!  It does get easier, and                        even more fun, too!

Q.  People would be surprised to know that I……                                                              A.  After graduating from high school, I took a hiatus from music and never                               intended to return to performing music… until my sister begged me to join the                   Batavia Concert Band.  Now, six years later, I play in four different groups in                        the community. I’m making up for lost time!

Q.  List 3 adjectives that best describe you.                                                                      A.  Open-minded, Optimistic, Thoughtful

Q.  What would you like to be doing in 5 years?                                                               A.  Continue to work at a job that challenges me and that I enjoy; travel as much                     as I can; continue to play percussion and grow as a musician; surround                           myself with the people I love

Q.  Which famous musician/composer would you most like to meet?                                A.  John Williams.  He has composed the scores of some of my favorite movies,                      and he always writes such full percussion parts.  But, to be honest – meeting                     Beyonce would be great, too!

Q.  If you could play another instrument, what would it be?                                              A.  Trombone or Cello

Q.  What do you enjoy most about being a musician?                                                      A.  Working with such a talented group of people.  I’ve learned a lot just from                       watching and playing with Bob Chaplin, Dave Funston, and other veteran                            musicians in the GSO.


String Workshop 2016

ViolinString Workshop 2016 was held at Go Art! on Saturday, March 19th.  Twenty-eight string students created an ensemble to practice their skills and improve their techniques with our Guest Conductor and fourth candidate for GSO Music Director, Bryan Eckenrode.

Mr. Eckenrode led the young musicians through the workshop along with GSO string players/mentors and music educators from our area.  The students practiced two pieces chosen by Mr. Eckenrode for his concert program.   Students will perform side by side with the GSO at our spring concert, American Made, on Sunday, April 17th.

Many workshop participants have not had the opportunity to perform in a larger orchestra setting. Preparing for the concert has been an exciting experience for these young musicians.  A number of this year’s students returned for a second or third year, attesting to the value of this educational outreach program.

GSO thanks The Bank of Castile for sponsoring String Workshop each year.

Message from the Conductor

Dear Members and Friends of the GSO,

I am very excited to have the opportunity to be part of the GSO’s 2015-2016 season. American Made is an eclectic collection of styles by American composers.   Featured are two Batavia born composers: one a professional Grammy Award winner, Gary Call Hanley; the other an up and coming student, Ross Chua.                                                                                                                                             GSO String Workshop players join the orchestra for two works: Variations on a Theme by Handel composed by the acclaimed Maurice Whitney, former composition teacher at Ithaca College; and selections from the Harry Potter movie, The Prisoner of Azkaban, composed by one of America’s foremost composers, John Williams. We welcome these very talented young musicians to our stage!

The program opens with a wonderful piece entitled An Overture to an Unwritten Opera, by Don Gillis, a Texas born composer, who worked with Toscanni and the NBC orchestra. I will be conducting from the actual score used by Toscanni, which I obtained from the NBC Symphony Library. Also on the program is Blues in 6/8 by Milton Weinstein. Born in 1911 in Cohoes, New York, Weinstein worked in the Hollywood film industry.

The program concludes with selections from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story, a composition that was ground breaking in the 1950s, introducing many elements of style and rhythm not previously used in Musical Theater.

Please join us for an afternoon of interesting and highly enjoyable music, created for your listening pleasure by some of America’s greatest composers!


Bryan Eckenrode

Guest Conductor for American Made – Bryan Eckenrode

Bryan Eckenrode

Bryan Eckenrode

Bryan Eckenrode is a graduate of SUNY at Stony Brook and holds a Master of Music degree from SUNY at Buffalo.  He is currently principal cello with the Western New York Chamber Orchestra and Southern Tier Symphony.  Mr. Eckenrode has performed with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, with Ars Nova, and as principal cellist of the British Columbia Mozart Festival Orchestra.  He is a member of the Lexington String Quartet, and the chamber groups Voci D’Amore and Camerata.

Mr. Eckenrode is conductor and music director of the Warren Philharmonic Orchestra and the Chautauqua Regional Youth Symphony, the Prelude Strings Orchestra, and the Young Artists Orchestra of Jamestown.  He is an adjunct professor at Canisius College and Jamestown Community College.

Notes from the President

The GSO has created a special treat for music lovers this Valentine’s Day! Our program, Flutes and Flourishes, will delight you with a variety of classical selections. And to celebrate this special holiday, Un Sonnet d’Amour (A Love Song), by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor has been included for your enjoyment. In addition to guest conductor Nicholas DelBello, and soloist Christine Bailey Davis, principal flutist of the BPO, we welcome our guest performers, Miranda DelBello, flute, and The Buffalo Brass Choir. Nick will present a pre-concert talk from 3:15 – 3:30 P.M. We hope that you will plan to arrive early for the presentation!

Performing at the Stuart Steiner Theatre is always a pleasure – and especially so when the Roz Steiner Gallery has a concurrent exhibition. The gallery will be open pre-concert to allow our patrons to enjoy Keeping Up Appearances by Ashley Blalock, a California based artist. For more details about Ms. Blalock’s work visit Another excellent reason to come out early for the concert!

On a final note, we’d like to remind our patrons that the GSO is raffling off an iPad this season. Your raffle ticket purchase will help the GSO continue its mission to produce quality orchestral music for the Genesee region. Thank you for your support!

Musically yours,

Paul Saskowski and Roxie Choate                                                                        Co-Presidents, GSO Board of Directors

High Notes – Q&A with Musician Claudia Deiboldt

Claudia Deiboldt

Claudia Deiboldt










Name: Claudia Deiboldt                                                                                       Residence: Albion, New York                                                                                 Occupation: Retired Instrumental String Music Teacher                                                   Years with the GSO: My very first GSO concert was back in the late 1970’s – A                                             December concert with Isaiah Jackson conducting.

Q.  Which instrument/s do you play?                                                                                A.  Violin, viola, cello and string bass

Q.  What was your first instrument? When and why did you start playing?                            A.   I began playing the violin in 5th My first violin had belonged to my grandfather and it       was decided I would learn to play it. I would have played anything put in my hands!

Q.   What are your fondest musical memories?                                                                   A.   My earliest memory is singing and reciting nursery rhymes with my dad with                 almost anything we did together. Another wonderful memory is the string quartet I     played in for 11 years with Helen and John Grapka and Alton Dewey. We rarely             performed; it was about getting together and making music for the joy of it.

Q.  What advice would you give to beginning instrumental students?                               A.  Listen to good recordings of your instrument. Don’t be afraid to experiment and explore new things on your instrument. Practice, Practice, Practice.

Q.   People would be surprised to know that I……                                                               A.   Am addicted to knitting and rarely go a day without it.

Q.   List 3 adjectives that best describe you.                                                                     A.   Family-oriented, sentimental, and optimistic.

Q.   What would you like to be doing in 5 years?                                                                A.   Traveling, spending more time with family, and playing lots of violin.

Q.   Which famous musician/composer would you most like to meet?                             A.    Beethoven

Q.   If you could play another instrument, what would it be?                                                 A.   French Horn! There is so much wonderful literature for horn.

Q.   What’s the most challenging aspect of being a musician?                                              A.   For me the biggest challenge is maintaining my playing skills. A goal for retirement is to hone my performance skills. Back to the practice room for me!

Guest Artist Christine Bailey Davis, Flute

Christine Bailey Davis

Christine Bailey Davis

Buffalo native Christine Bailey Davis is a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she was a student of Philadelphia Orchestra flutist Jeffrey Khaner. She has also studied with James Galway, Carol Wincenc, Keith Underwood, and Marina Piccinini.

Ms. Davis has been the principal flutist of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra since June 1995. She has also played guest principal in the Erie Philharmonic and assistant principal in the St. Louis Symphony. The Buffalo News has called her playing “immaculately accurate, but with a winning, casual, often jaunty approach to phrasing, while extremely complex runs and ornamentations seemed artlessly simple….”

Ms. Davis has been performing around the Buffalo area as a soloist and ensemble player since she was eleven years old. She made her professional debut in 1992, at age 18, soloing with the New York City chamber orchestra Philharmonia Virtuosi at Artpark, in Lewiston, NY. Ms. Davis was named the winner of the Cleveland Institute of Music’s 1994 Spring Concerto Competition. She has been a frequent soloist with Ars Nova Musicians, as part of their Viva Vivaldi Festival and Red Jacket concert series.

From the GSO Historian

The Year the Review Got Reviewed

Praise, admiration, and criticism can be a standard norm for any performance. The Genesee Symphony Orchestra has been blessed over the years to be given much praise for its performances. And it is much appreciated!

But did you know that in March of 1978, a battle of words was “played” out in the Batavia Daily News over one performance of the GSO?

It was a difficult time for the orchestra, when the scheduled soloist broke her hand. Another guest soloist stepped up to perform. Many an article was written about how well the orchestra sounded and how delightful the “substitute” soloist had performed – but not all were in agreement. A critique of the critique was written. And then a critique of the critique of the critique was published! It was a bit comical, as reviewer after reviewer found fault with the previous reviews. Needless to say, the Genesee Symphony Orchestra persevered and continues to bring excellence in music and entertainment to the Genesee region.

Want to learn more about the Genesee Symphony Orchestra? Visit the memory books in the reference section of the Richmond Memorial Library or the permanent display at the Holland Land Office Museum.

Joanne Tumminello, GSO Historian