School of Music
Alumni News

School of Music
Mason Hall
The State University of New York at Fredonia
Fredonia, NY 14063
Ph: (716) 673-3151

Alumni News

• "Alumni of Note" is a select list of those who have distinguished themselves in their career, providing a glimpse into where a Fredonia degree ultimately can lead.

• "Recent graduates" are alumni who have, in the past three years or so, entered the field or went on to graduate school. The list is intended only as a brief sampling, revised annually.

• The "Alumni News" page is a reprint of the information in our last alumni newsletter. You can also read past issues of Notes from Mason at

• "Send us your news" is an online tool for you to submit your latest information.


Marjorie Gibbs, ’52, (music ed.) is singing in a 100-plus voice choral group, The Burnt Hills Oratorio Society. They sang Mendelssohn’s Elijah with a 45-piece orchestra at Skidmore College to a full house. Marjorie is a retired junior and senior high school guidance counselor.

Richard A. Stephan, ’52, (music ed.) has been retired for 12 years, but is still writing for Neil A. Kjos Music Company- Publisher and playing jazz guitar.

Fr. William “Bill” Persia, ’56, CSC, (music ed.), currently parochial vicar of Sacred Heart St. Francis de Sales Church in Bennington, VT, celebrated his 50th anniversary of ordination with the Congregation of Holy Cross during a Jubiliarian ceremony celebrated at the University of Notre Dame in May 2012.

Dr. Frank, ’56, (music ed.) and Sallie (Shapley) Pullano, ’58, (music ed.) received the Jessie Hillman Award for Excellence from the Hillman Memorial Music Association and SUNY Fredonia in November 2012. Dr. Pullano is professor emeritus in the School of Music, and Mrs. Pullano is a retired music educator and former Chautauqua County Legislator. They now reside in Rock Hill, SC.

Sandra (Peterson) Fry, ’59, (music ed.) spends the winters in Vero Beach, FL where she and her husband sing with the First Methodist Church of Vero Beach choir. She still maintains her church choir directorship in Erie, PA, when not in Florida.


Ronald Corsaro, ’61, (music ed.) has organized the annual Lewiston Jazz Festival for the past eight years, which attracts over 40,000 fans.

Calvin Stewart, ’61, (music ed.) is performing on the steel pan drums at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Hotel and plays at weddings and private parties. He also performs at The Island House Hotel in Orange Beach, AL.

Nancy (Claybaugh) Krestic, ’62, (music ed.) was presented with the Grace Stearns Saxton Award by the American Association of University Women.

Lee H. Pritchard, ’62, (music ed.) represented President Dennis Hefner and SUNY Fredonia at the inauguration of SUNY New Paltz’s eighth President, Dr. Donald P. Christian, on April 13, 2012.

Mary Anne Harp, ’63, (music ed.) is happily involved in conducting musicals - most recently, Legally Blonde, for Jamestown Community College. She also plays trumpet in the American Legion Band, Post 264, in North Tonawanda, NY, and in the Jamestown Area Community Orchestra.

Martin Zavadil, ’65, (music ed.) continues as conductor of the Schoharie Valley Concert Band and Director of Hosanna Bells at Christ Community Reformed Church in Clifton Park, NY.

Dr. Joseph Casimino, ’67, (music ed.) retired as music chairman for Lancaster schools and as principal of St. Mary’s High School in Lancaster, NY; he is a former president of the Erie County Music Educators Association (ECMEA), and a former member of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Board of Directors.


Gary Dailey, ’72, (music ed.) after 40-plus years of teaching music in the Baltimore/ Washington, DC, area and playing “on the road” with Buddy Rich, Maynard Ferguson and the U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors, has retired to Charlotte, NC with his extended family.

Dr. Deborah (Anders) Silverman, ’76, (music ed., English) was inducted into the College of Fellows by the Public Relations Society of America in October at its annual conference in San Francisco, CA.

Stephen L. Gage, ’78, (music ed.) has been appointed conductor of the W.D. Packard Concert Band. He is the Instrumental Music Coordinator, professor of conducting, and Director of Bands at Youngstown (Ohio) State University.

Margaret Wolfers, '79, has been serving as interim President of SouthEast Wisconsin Performing Arts (


Debra (Wesolowski) Komosinski, ’80, (music ed.) received the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra/Erie County Music Educators Association (BPO/ECMEA) Excellence in Teaching Award in April 2012. She is currently in her 11th year of teaching at Akron (NY) Central Schools.

David Clark, ’81, (music theory) after 20 years as an attorney, recently returned to school to work on his master's degree in music at Georgia State University. He recently traveled to France with his choir for a competition. He sings with the Georgia State University Singers.

Michael Kelly, ‘84/’96, (music comp.) is currently teaching at the Montgomery Community College Music Department, and  is a voting member of The National Academy of Arts & Sciences. He was a member of The Grip Weeds from 2003-2012 and produces the Montco Rocks Concert Series with producer David Ivory.

Numa Saisselin, ’85, (music ed.) after 10 award winning years as the CEO of the Count Basie Theatre in NJ, Numa is the new President of the Florida Theatre, a circa 1927 historic theatre and performing arts center in Jacksonville, FL. His most recent honor was to serve as a panelist at Pollstar Live 2013, the national conference for the live concert industry in Los Angeles.

Lisa Brigantino, ’86, (music theory), ’88 (MM music theory & composition) recently co-wrote and produced with husband Dr. Thomas Millioto, ’88, (music perf.)  the music for a national television and radio advertising campaign for Once Upon A Child apparel stores. Additionally, Thomas received the 2012 Cecile Insdorf Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Office of the President at CUNY Hunter College.

Dr. Liana Valente, ’88, (music perf.) has been recognized as a nationally certified teacher of music by the Music Teachers National Association. She teaches in the choral and musical theater departments at Harrison School for the Arts and at Rollins College in Winter Park, FL.

Kevin Badanes, ’89, (music ed.) holds a DMA in choral conducting from SUNY Stony Brook and has studied with Marguerite Brooks and Lee Kjelson. He has held various positions in academia for much of the past 15 years and in 2002 received the Delta Omicron Professor of the Year while Director of Choral Activities at Virginia Tech. He has served as chorus master for three opera companies including NC Opera., is currently the founder/director of the professional vocal jazz octet Avante, and also owns a booking agency for classical artists.

Bill Machold, ’89, (music perf.) is currently Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Bands at Quincy University (Quincy, IL). He received his MM in Performance from Akron University in 1991. He is a very active as a performer (symphony, jazz and rock groups), judge and clinician. He runs a percussion ensemble camp at QU and consults at several high school marching band camps in the summer.


Andrew Knoll, ’90, (sound rec. technology) spent 10 years as keyboardist/engineer with Lou Gramm of Foreigner. He was featured heavily on Gramm's 2009 release as co-songwriter, engineer and scoring (electronic). He was also involved with scoring for national ad campaigns and TV cues (McDonald's Corp., Chevrolet, GM, U.S. Navy, Discovery, SyFy Channel). He is still performing /touring with Gramm.

Emily Orr, ’90, (music perf.) received a MM from West Virginia University in 2000 and DMA from University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2005. She has been teaching music at the North Carolina Governor's School since 1999. She taught at the University of North Carolina Pembroke from 2005-2012, is a member of the Fayetteville (NC) Symphony Orchestra, and founded Longleaf School of the Arts, a public high school which will open in Raleigh, NC, in August. 

Michael Szczublewski, ’90, (music perf.) was the director of the 2011-2012 Chautauqua County Music Teachers Association’s Winter Festival Jazz Ensemble.

Julie Parker Neal, ’92, (music therapy and perf.) became Music Therapist-Board Certified in 1994. She completed a Master of Science in Music Therapy from Radford University in 1995 and worked full-time as a Music Therapist for the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Mental Health from 1997-2004. She has worked full-time as a Music Therapist in Montgomery County Public Schools since 2004. Julie became a Fellow of the Association for Music and Imagery in 2004; and President-Elect of the Mid-Atlantic Region of the American Music Therapy Association 2011-2013, and will hold office of President beginning July 2013. She continues to perform as a freelance vocalist for churches and special events, in addition to practicing as a music therapist.

Harold Dennis Tjon-Jaw-Chong, ’95, (music perf.) graduated with an MM degree from the University of Louisville as a recipient of a full University Scholarship and Lee Luvisi Piano Scholarship. He also graduated from Ede Christian University in The Netherlands with an advanced degree in education. Harold is currently employed on the Dutch Caribbean island of St. Maarten as a teacher and coordinator of Expressive Arts at the St. Maarten Academy along with a busy private piano studio. 

Christine (Cramer) Merkel, ’97, (music ed.) is the director of the Gates Chili High School Show Choir in Rochester, NY.

Norman Zogaib, ’98, (music ed.) conducted the Chautauqua County All-County Senior High Chorus at the Spring All-County Concert at Chautauqua Institution. He is on the music faculty at Hamburg (NY) High School.

Benjamin Berghorn, ’99, (music ed. & perf.) was named Guest Principal trumpet of the Beijing Symphony Orchestra in Fall 2011. He is currently a Doctoral Candidate (ABD) at Michigan State University in trumpet performance, teaches private trumpet in the Lansing, MI area, and is an Adjunct Instructor at Lansing Community College.

Wayne A. Burlison, ’99, (music ed.) currently is the Director of the Elementary Band program at Albion (NY) Central Schools. He has been a conductor of the Batavia Concert Band and a performing member of many local musical groups, including the Batavia Brass Society, Genesee Symphony Orchestra, the Greece Concert Band, the Hitmen Brass Band (Rochester, NY), the Rochester Patriots Drum and Bugle Corps, the Syracuse Brigadiers Drum and Bugle Corps, the Batavia Swing Band and the Brockport Community Big Band. 

Jim Goodenbery, ’99, (music ed.) recently conducted at the JLCMTA Winter festival. He has also been a recent clinician for NYSSMA and NYSTEA. He currently teaches Music in Carthage, NY where he also directs two full-length theatrical productions each year. He teaches at the high school and middle school levels, serves on the board of directors for Watertown Lyric Theatre, works at youth theatre camps in Watertown, NY, and Clayton, NY, over the summer and performs/participates in community theatre.


Michael Bies, ’06, (MM theory/comp, performance) is on the faculty of Palm Beach Atlantic University as Adjunct Professor of Music Theory. He and his wife, Azusa, own and operate a music lesson business. He has received premieres of new pieces.

Ashly Cinelli Martella, ’06, (music ed.), ’10, (music ed.) is currently the String Director at the Eden JR/SR High School. She teaches 100 string students and runs the after-school Fiddle Club and Chamber Orchestra. She has been a counselor/faculty at the VIVACE Summer camp in Houghton, NY, and is an adjunct professor at Fredonia, teaching String Instruments for vocal/general majors. She also performs with the NEXUS string quartet of Buffalo.

Cara Burgess, ’07, (music ed.) received a MM in research from West Chester University and teaches middle school band in the Philadelphia suburbs.

Greg Detwiler, ’08, (music ed.) is currently pursuing a master's degree in Music Education at Nazareth College, teaching privately and freelance gigging. 

Geoffrey Miller, ’08, (music perf.) is currently the Director of Annual Fund and Alumni Relations at Darrow School. He also accompanies for various shows, productions, and rehearsals.

Thomas Foster, ’09, (music perf.) was awarded a master’s degree in Historical Performance by the Royal College of Music in London, England. He studied fortepiano, harpsichord, clavichord and continuo playing. He also performed in venues in and around London, including the Queen Elizabeth Hall in the South Bank Centre. Thomas is scheduled to appear as a harpsichordist with Sinfonia Cymru, a chamber orchestra in Cardiff, Wales. He is the founder of Editio Nova, a private publishing service for musicians. 


Melissa Widzinski, ’10, (sound rec. technology/music perf.) was named Senior Event Support Technician in the Office of the Dean of Students at the University of Rochester.

Page modified 11/26/14