"Success lies in the strength of the teachers, their students, the parents who support their musical development and the conductors who together celebrate the power of music"

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Conductor Bios

LISFA GRADES 11 & 12 CONDUCTOR - SANDRA DACKOW 

Sandra Dackow holds three degrees from the Eastman School of Music and currently serves as Music Director of the Hershey Symphony Orchestra in Pennsylvania, of the Hershey Symphony Festival Strings, and of the William Paterson University Symphony Orchestra in New Jersey. An Aspen Conducting fellow, she was awarded the Silver medal in the 2001 Vakhtang Jordania/New Millennium Conducting Competition in Ukraine. Dr. Dackow has published over 115 works for student orchestras and is an author of Alfred’s Orchestra Expressions, Tempo Press’s Expressive Techniques for Orchestra, and Expressive Sight-reading for Orchestra, and a co-author of the MENC (NAfME) Complete String Guide. She has appeared as a guest conductor, clinician and adjudicator throughout the US and abroad, including summers at Interlochen, and other music camps. In 1994 she worked with the Hong Kong Youth Orchestra and in 1995 she was granted a Fulbright award to teach in Australia. Sandra Dackow is a former President of the Conductor’ Guild, an international organization serving conductors in 31 countries. In 2009 she was elected a Lowell Mason Fellow by MENC: The Association for Music Education, (NAfME) as well as awarded the Bruno Walter Best Conductor Prize by the Master Academy International Competition in Switzerland.


LISFA GRADES 9 & 10 CONDUCTOR - JONATHAN HANDMAN

Jonathan Handman, conductor, teacher, and cellist, is co-founder and Artistic Director of Stringendo Inc., a music school that is committed to furthering the growth and talents of string players in the Hudson Valley. Under Jonathan’s direction, Vivace, Stringendo’s most advanced ensemble has garnered numerous awards including the Grand Champion Orchestra at the ASTA National Orchestra Festival in 2016, 2014 and 2009; and The American Prize winner in Orchestra Performance – Youth Orchestra Division in 2013. Jonathan is also in his fourteenth year at Arlington High School in LaGrangeville, NY, where he is the conductor of two symphony orchestras and directs an extensive chamber music program. In addition to Arlington’s Philharmonia Orchestra winning the 2017 and 2012 Public School Grand Champion Prize at the ASTA National Orchestra Festival, chamber ensembles from this program have performed at Lincoln Center (2015) and made it into the live quarterfinal round of the 2012 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition.

Jonathan is also the conductor of the Woodstock Chamber Orchestra and based on his work conducting the ensemble, the review by Leslie Gerber in the Woodstock Times said, “I have never heard the WCO sounding better than it did under Handman.” In 2013, Jonathan was the winner of the American Prize in Conducting/Youth Orchestra Division. In addition, he received the 2012 Distinguished Alumni Award in Music Education from the Oberlin Conservatory and in 2002 was Oberlin’s invited guest speaker representing the decade of the 1990’s at its 100th year anniversary celebration of music education. He is in frequent demand as a guest conductor for honor orchestras throughout the northeast, most recently working with groups from Syracuse, Albany and Virginia. One of his treasured experiences was spending a six month residence in La Paz, Bolivia as a cellist in the Arka-Ira String Quartet, The Bolivian National Symphony, and Professor of Cello at the Bolivian National Conservatory. As a freelance musician, His studies include The Eastman School of Music (Trombone performance), The Oberlin Conservatory (B.A. in Music Education, Cello) and an M.A in orchestral conducting from SUNY Fredonia. Jonathan currently resides in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. with his wife Kim and two sons, Jack and T.J..

LISFA GRADES 7 & 8 CONDUCTOR - KENNETH JERNIGAN

B.M. Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, N.Y., M.Mus. Ed. Lehman College, N.Y.

Mr. Jernigan teaches in the Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y. UFSD where he serves as the conductor of the local and national award-winning High School Orchestra, Band and Jazz Ensemble, the Eighth and Seventh Grade Orchestra and Band. He is also director of the district chamber music program. In 2011, Mr. Jernigan inaugurated and has been the director of the Hastings-on-Hudson school district steel drum ensemble program.

From 1986 to 1999 he was the music director and conductor of the Camerata Chamber Orchestra of Long Island and twice toured Europe with this ensemble.

He has guest conducted numerous county, district, regional and all-state festivals on all levels throughout the Northeast and Florida.

As a professional double bassist, Mr. Jernigan is in demand as a freelance musician and has held the principal chairs of the Westchester Symphony, Queens Orchestral Society and is currently principal of the Allegro Chamber Orchestra of New York which has made several European tours. He is also currently a bassist with the Fishkill Baptist Church of N.Y. Praise and Worship Team.

Mr. Jernigan has held master classes and clinics on a variety of string and wind performance techniques including a workshop on orchestral bowing techniques in 2005 at the New York All-State Conference in Rochester, N.Y.

During the summer, Mr. Jernigan can be found at the Performing Arts Institute (PAI) at Wyoming Seminary College Preparatory School in Kingston, Pennsylvania where he and his wife are co-directors of the Junior Division Program.

Since the summer of 2011, Mr. Jernigan has been a guest conductor of the Symphony and Chamber Orchestras as well as coaching chamber music at the Eastern U.S. Music Camp at Colgate University, N.Y.

Mr. Jernigan is active as a member and adjudicator of the Westchester County and New York State Music Educators Association.

Mr. Jernigan is grateful to the festival directors, educators, parents and the wonderful students for this special experience.

LISFA GRADE 6 CONDUCTOR - STEVE FAYETTE

Steven Fayette began his musical life hoping to carve out a career as an orchestral bassist.  He was fortunate to count Henry Neubert, David Perlman, John Schaeffer and Julius Levine as his teachers.  All favored him with equal doses of first-rate instruction and incredibly deep kindness.  It's a debt he will always work to at least repay in part.
Finding the right girl - the prominent violist and teacher Leslie Fayette - he decided that a life spent teaching and living in the country suited him better.  So, over thirty years later, he looks back with great satisfaction at his tenure as part of the music faculty at the Shoreham-Wading River School District on Long Island's bucolic east end.  Spending his entire teaching career there, he found real happiness teaching every level of string student.  He retired in 2015.
Along the way, he and Leslie were always involved in the North Shore Suzuki School, becoming owners in 2007.  
They raised four children, all becoming professional musicians, while working since 1987 to restore their 200-year-old home in Wading River.  
A proud son of Central New York's Leatherstocking Country, he and the missus have recently retired to a nice place on 36 acres outside Rome, New York about 10 minutes from where he grew up.  He continues to act as the State String Coordinator for NYSSMA and is enjoying getting reacquainted with his bass.  
SUFFOLK LISFA GRADE 5 CONDUCTOR - JACQUELINE STONE MARTIN
Ms. Martin has been teaching on Long Island for 30 years. As a native New Yorker growing up in Lynbrook, she played violin with the Long Island Youth Orchestra, Camarata, and the Stecher and Horowitz Youth Orchestra. Jackie was selected to play in  LISFA from grades 5 to 12.  She holds a B.A.from James Madison Univetsity, a M.A.S. from Queens College and a M.A. in Guidance from L.I.U.   She is currently the orchestra director at Roslyn Middle School in Roslyn.  Ms. Martin has held several positions on the LISFA Board, most recently two years as President. She has had the privilege of being a guest conductor and presenter at conferences here on  Long Island. As a member of ASTA (American String Teachers Association) she has presided at conferences throughout the country.  Ms. Martin is honored to be named in the "Who's Who of American Teachers 1997".  She plays violin for several local groups and school districts. 
In her free time she enjoys being with her husband and three daughters, travelling, golfing and needle point.


NASSAU LISFA GRADE 5 CONDUCTOR - GERI LISANTI-LEVY

Geri’s career as a music educator in the Three Village and William Floyd School Districts spanned many decades. In her retirement, she continues to have a private studio, is a NYSMMA adjudicator and a guest conductor. Her B.M. degree was awarded at the SUNY College at Fredonia. She holds a M.S. in Music Education from Long Island University at C.W. Post.

Mrs. Lisanti-Levy has been a guest conductor at the following Music Educators Festivals: Dutchess County, Orange County, The Hamptons, Long Island String Festival, Suffolk and Nassau All County Festivals. In addition, she has conducted numerous All-District Festivals in the N.Y. area.

A Past President of the Long Island String Festival Association, she is currently the Historian for that organization. Besides LISFA, Geri is a member of the National Association of Music Educators, the New York State School Music Association, and the Suffolk County Music Educators Association.

Her musical compositions are recorded on the Macmillan Company’s “Sing and Learn” series. As a professional violinist, Geri is a member of the Ascot Affair String Quartet and has performed with the Stony Brook Graduate Orchestra and many freelance musical ensembles.