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Notable Alumni 

Robert Petta

Robert received his A.A.S. from Onondaga and his Bachelor of Music from The Manhattan School of Music. After graduating he became the Principal Percussionist of The Florida Symphony/Orlando Philharmonic, a position he held for thirty-seven years. He has performed with virtually every major classical and pop artist including: Luciano Pavaroti, Placido Domingo, Leontyne Price, Beverly Sills, Seiji Ozawa, Arthur Fiedler, Keith Lockhart, Tony Bennett, Billy Eckstine, The Fifth Dimension, Marvin Hamlisch, Henry Mancini, The Moody Blues, Arturo Sandavol, Doc Severnson, Dionne Warwick and many others. With The Orlando Philharmonic he made several recordings for Madacy Records. He was also a member of The Brevard Symphony and frequently performed with the orchestras of Naples, Jacksonville, Tampa and Sarasota. He was the Principal Percussionist for The Orlando Opera, Opera Tampa, The Palm Beach Opera, The Southern Ballet Theater and tours with the Ballet Companies of New York City, Houston, Hartford and Pittsburgh. He also performed on tour with The Royal Opera Orchestra of Covent Garden. In addition, Robert performed for many years in The Fife and Drum Corps at Walt Disney World and was on the faculty of The University of Central Florida.

In addition to performing and teaching, Mr. Petta has computer engraved new Percussion parts for many orchestral pieces including all of the Operas of Puccini. These revised parts are now being used by orchestras throughout North America.

In 2012 Robert moved back to Syracuse to pursue semi-retirement. Since returning, he has performed with The Binghamton Philharmonic, The Catskill Symphony, The Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic and Symphoria of Syracuse.

Ben Mauro

Singer, guitarist and songwriter Ben Mauro grew up in Syracuse, New York. He first began playing guitar by blasting Led Zeppelin songs in his parents’ basement and soon he says he was totally obsessed with making music. After high school, Ben studied classical guitar at Onondaga Community College, then moved to New York City. 

Ben spent time honing his musical chops around the New York club circuit before getting an offer to join Lionel Richie’s band and moving to Los Angeles. He then began playing concerts with Lionel all over the world to thousands of screaming fans. Ben has also played on the first American Idol tour featuring Kelly Clarkson and on the Black Onyx Tour with Britney Spears. Ben has worked with numerous other artists, including Christina Aquilera, Prince, Peter Frampton and more. In 2012 Ben toured Japan with Don Felder from the Eagles, Australia with John Fogerty from Creedence Clearwater Revival and Europe with Lionel Richie.

Due to his extraordinary musical skills and dynamic stage presence, he has remained one of the core members of Lionel Richie's band for over 13 years, recording two live DVDs and one live CD with Lionel. Ben has made multiple TV appearances on such shows as Saturday Night Live, The Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The View, Good Morning America and many others.

Ben is already getting a reputation as an exciting solo performer and his EP Happily Ever has an upbeat California vibe. The release of Ben’s second solo EP, “Take Your Time” in May of 2014 brought him back to Syracuse and OCC. Ben knows the importance of staying connected with his roots, giving back to the CNY area and supporting local musicians. He took the opportunity to showcase some local talent and interact with students on campus, particularly helping the Music Department classes to understand how to make it in the music industry.

Kelly J. Burke

Kelly J. Burke is Professor of Clarinet at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is currently the principal clarinetist of the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra and bass clarinetist of the Eastern Music Festival Orchestra. Equally at home playing Baroque to Bebop, she has appeared in recitals and as a soloist with symphony orchestras throughout the United States, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, China, and Russia. An avid chamber musician, Burke is frequently heard in concert with the Mallarmé Chamber Players, for whom she plays both clarinet and bass clarinet, the East Wind Trio d'Anches, Middle Voices (clarinet, viola and piano), and the Cascade Wind Quintet.

Burke's discography includes several recent releases with Centaur Records: The Russian Clarinet, with works by Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Glinka, Melkikh, and Goedicke; Middle Voices: Chamber Music for Clarinet and Viola, featuring works by several American composers; Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Chamber Music featuring the quintet and nonet, Middle Voices: Chamber Music of Eddie Bass, and EastWind Looks East: Reed Trios of Eastern Europe. She has also recorded for Telarc, Albany and Arabesque labels.

Burke has received several teaching awards, including UNCG's Alumni Teaching Excellence Award, the School of Music Outstanding Teacher Award, has been named several times to Who's Who Among America's Teachers, and was honored with the 2004 UNC Board of Governor's Teaching Excellence Award. She is the author of numerous pedagogical articles and the critically acclaimed book Clarinet Warm-Ups: Materials for the Contemporary Clarinetist. Burke was Treasurer and a member of the Executive Board of the International Clarinet Association from 2000 to 2004. She holds the AAS from Onondaga Community College, the BM and MM degrees from the Eastman School of Music and the DMA from the University of Michigan.

She is married to Edward Sharp, an attorney for Legal Aid-North Carolina. She and Ed have two children, Benjamin (13) and Jackson (11), a calico tabby named Kasha, an Australian Shepherd named Mara, and a Sun Conure named Rico.

Burke is an artist/clinician for Rico International and Buffet Crampon Clarinets. Email: [email protected],  Bio: 

David Champouillon

A.A.S. Music – Onondaga , B.M. University of Miami, M.A. Eastern Illinois University, D.A. in Music Performance/Pedagogy and Theory/Composition.  He is presently the principal trumpet for the Johnson City Symphony  Orchestra, principal trumpet for Veteran Brass and Leader/trumpet for the Jazz Doctors.   David is also a Bach Performing Artist/Clinician,  Professor of Trumpet and Jazz Studies at East Tennessee State University, Executive Director of the Tri-Cities Jazz Fest, Reviewer for Oxford University Press, Prentice-Hall, McGraw Hill and Judge for the National Trumpet Competition. He was listed in Who’s Who in America 2002-2005, made the National Dean’s List in 1986, was listed as one of the 600 most notable trumpeters in the world.  He was also listed as one of the top 50 pro’s on trumpet in the U.S.   He was a member of the United States Air Force Band, Utah Symphony, New American Symphony, Syracuse Symphony, Symphony of the Mountains, Lehigh Valley Chamber Orchestra, Pennsylvania Sinfonia Orchestra, Westminster Chamber Orchestra, Salt Lake Symphony Orchestra, among others.  He has performed with such greats as:  Marvin Hammlisch, Mel Torme, Moody Blues, Linda Kelm, Gary Graffman, Jon Faddis, Marvin Stamm, Arturo Sandoval, Budweiser Rhythm and Blues Fest, Budweiser Jazz Fest and John Blake.  

Kevin Mixon

A.A.S. Music – Onondaga, B.S. Music Education Syracuse University (summa cum laude), M.S. Music Ed. University of Illinois, C.A.S. Educator Administration, SUNY Oswego.  Kevin is the Fine Arts Director for Syracuse City Schools, New York. His instrumental groups with diverse student membership regularly receive the highest ratings at festivals and are widely recognized for achievement.  He is also author of Reaching and Teaching All Instrumental Music Students and contributing author to Teaching Music in the Urban Classroom: A Guide to Survival, Success, and Reform and Teacher to Teacher: A Music Educator’s Survival Guide (all MENC/ Rowman & Littlefield Publications).  His articles regularly appear in Music Educators Journal, Teaching Music, and The Instrumentalist.  His compositions for band and orchestra, written for all skill levels and interests, are available through Alfred Publishing and Carl Fischer Music.  As both clinician and conductor, Mr. Mixon is in high demand and regularly presents sessions at conventions including The International Society for Music Education World Conference, The Midwest Clinic, MENC National and Regional Conferences, as well as numerous state, regional, and university/college conferences, symposia, and in-services. His current clinic topics include instrumental music in urban and rural schools, curriculum integration, cultural relevancy, instrumental music for special learners, teaching instrumental music in challenging conditions, percussion pedagogy, and alternate rehearsal techniques.  

Curt Altarac

A.A.S. Music – Onondaga,  B.M.Ed. SUNY Fredonia, Masters in Performance Southern Mississippi.  Curt has studied saxophone with, Harwood Strobeck, Dr. David Abrams, Dr. Laurence Wyman, Dr. Lawrence Gwozdz and Larry Panella.  He has shared the stage with players such as:  Ellis Marsalis, Ken Coon (Rascher Saxophone Quartet), Don Menza and many others.   As a teacher and musician, Curt is very active with both classical and jazz saxophone.  Former students of Curt’s are working musicians throughout the U.S.   Focusing on the baritone and bass saxophones, Curt plays in Renegade Classical, a saxophone quartet, a saxophone trio, a 10-piece Jazz Combo, as well as several big bands and works as a free lance musician.  He maintains an active teaching studio at the Wilmington Academy of Music.  Curt is currently living in Wilmington, North Carolina and owns an instrument repair company:

Michael Hewitt

A.A.S. Music – Onondaga, B.M. Crane School of Music  SUNY Potsdam, M.M. Michigan State University, Ph.D. University of Arizona.  Michael is currently an assistant professor at the University of Maryland and teaches courses in instrumental music education and brass methods.  Michael previously was Band Director for elementary and secondary levels in the states of New York, Michigan and Arizona.  He has been published in the Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education and the Journal of Research in Music Education. Additionally, he writes a regular column that focuses on the dissemination of  current research for the Maryland Music Educator.   His current professional affiliations are with the Music Educators National Conference, Maryland Music Educators Association, College Music Society, American Education Research Association, the American Association for Higher Education, and the World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles.

Christine Fish-Moulton

Assistant professor of flute and class piano at Mansfield University of PA, earned an Associates Degree in Music from Onondaga Community College, a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Boston Conservatory of Music, a Masters of Music from Manhattan School of Music and a DMA from Rutgers University. Member of the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, Pennsylvania Sinfonia and Finger Lakes Chamber Music Festival. Has also performed with the Northeastern PA  Philharmonic, the Lehigh Valley Chamber Orchestra, the Bach Choir of Bethlehem and has participated in the Spoleto Festivals both in the USA and Italy. As a former winner of the Boston based James Pappoutsakis Flute Competition, performed at the 2005 National Flute Convention in San Diego, CA. Dr. Moulton has served on the teaching faculties at the Manhattan School of Music, Northampton Community College and the Community Music School of Allentown. She serves as Secretary/Treasurer of the Marcel Moyse Society. Principal teachers include Selma Moore, Keith Underwood, Bart Feller, Sandra Church and William Grass

Gary Davenport

A.A.S. Music, Onondaga, Berklee College of Music, Boston, MA.  Having played bass for over fifteen years, Gary is an experienced and supportive player, equally at home fulfilling a role with a twelve piece R&B show band, or as a sideman for a national act.  He has also found himself a more aggressive position, taking an independent CD from composition to distribution, or as the house bassist, completing a tenure on Beale Street with passion for performance and love for recording, Gary is the consummate musician.  He has played with: Blues Other Brothers, The Lost Boys, Wendy Moten (EMI), Sun Studio Trio, The Willy’s, 805 (RCA), Altered Soul and 13Curves.

John Piazza, Jr

A.A.S. Music – Onondaga., B.M. Ed, Crane School of Music SUNY Potsdam, M.M. University of Massachusetts, where he was granted a full graduate assistantship.  John was the co-founder of “The Jazz Poets” in 1993 and the group was awarded a Down Beat award for best collegiate small group ensemble in 1995.  John worked as Musical Director for Carnival Cruise Lines for 11 years.  Under his direction the ship he was on, the Carnival Spirit, was awarded Cruise Critics “Best in Entertainment” in 2001 and the Carnival Conquest was awarded the industries 2003 E.A.G.L.E. award for best in entertainment for the entire year. He studied with: JR Monterose, Jack Palmer, Rick Montalbano, Danny D’Imperio, Sal Alberico, Sr. and Jr., and his mentor Sal Amico.  As a full time working musician and conductor.  John has supported countless musical and variety acts including Aretha Franklin, The Temptations, John Davidson, Charo, Eddie “The Big Ragu” Mekka, Duke Daniels of the Platters to name a few.   John is currently teaching trumpet and performing.  His website is: 

Ian Laskowski

Upon graduation of Onondaga Ian attended SUNY Geneseo and received a BA in Musical Theater.  Since graduating Geneseo in 2006 he has been working in the entertainment industry.  He played the role of Munkustrap in the 25th anniversary national/international tour of CATS.  After a year on tour Ian moved to NYC and had his off-broadway debut in the musical the Boyfriend.  He then ventured off on the Norwegian Sun cruise line performing as the Singer/dancer with the Jean Ann Ryan Co.  Which included the Cameron Mackintosh musical review "Hey Mr. Producer".  Ian also has performed at many regional theaters which include the acclaimed North Shore Music Theater under the direction of Emmy Award winner Glenn Casale and the Gateway Playhouse. As well as Summer Stock theaters.  He would like to thank the very talented professors of both Onondaga and Geneseo for their support and push to make him the best he could be.  Ian is a proud member of Actors Equity Association

Thomas Nami

Thomas Nami is a graduate of Onondaga Community College, class of 1985, earning an A.A.S. in Music.  Upon completion of Bachelor of Music Education degree from The Crane School of Music, Potsdam, New York, in 1988, he began his teaching career as an elementary music teacher in the Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Syracuse, and then moved on to teach in the Mohawk Valley (Mohawk C.S.D. and Mount Markham C.S.D.) for the next six years teaching elementary and high school vocal music.  While teaching in the Mohawk Valley, he completed his graduate studies at The College of Saint Rose, in Albany, New York, receiving a Master of Music Education degree in 1995. Tom accepted a teaching position in the Fulton City School District in 1995, as a high school vocal music teacher of grades 9-12, where he has remained for the past 14 years.  Tom has been very active as a performer in local community theatre including shows with Syracuse Musical Theatre, Theatre '90, The Talent Company, Syracuse Civic Theatre, and SUNY Oswego, playing both ensemble and leading roles.  In addition, he has performed with various vocal ensembles including the Mohawk Valley Choral Society and the Oswego Festival Chorus.  Currently, Tom can be found at G. Ray Bodley High School in Fulton, as director of the Concert Choir, teacher of Music Theory I and II, and musical directing the school musicals in addition to vocal lessons with many students.  E-mail: [email protected] 

Michael J. Cirmo

Michael J. Cirmo holds a Master of Arts in Instrumental Performance with Honors from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) and a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education with Honors and a Performer’s Certificate from Potsdam College, Crane School of Music. He began his studies at Onondaga Community College. He has studied percussion with Michael Bookspan and Donald Liuzzi of the Philadelphia Orchestra and James Ross of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  He has studied instrumental conducting with Anthony Maiello and was a seminar student with Craig Kirchoff at the University of Minnesota in the summer of 1998. 

An active performer in the Central New York area, Michael is the principal percussionist of the Utica Symphony Orchestra and also performs regularly with the Glimmerglass Opera Orchestra, Skaneateles Festival, Catskill Symphony, Syracuse Symphony, Hamilton College and Colgate University Orchestras.  In 1988 he was the Principal Percussionist / Assistant Principal Timpanist of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago.  In addition, Michael is an active jazz drummer and free-lance percussionist throughout New York State.

Michael has been a faculty member at the New England Music Camp in Maine and has served as assistant administrator of the New York State Summer School of the Arts, School of Jazz Studies and School of Orchestral Studies at Skidmore College.  Michael has served as president of the Oneida County Music Educators Association.  He is frequently called upon as a guest conductor for music festivals at all levels throughout New York State.  Since 2006, Michael has been the principal conductor or the Rome, NY Community Concert Band and Chamber Winds.  As a music teacher since 1985, Michael has taught at all levels, elementary through college.  Currently, he is the director of bands at Marcellus, NY High School, where his performing groups have received acclaim; and Lecturer in Percussion at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York.  

Micheal Kringer

Micheal Kringer has been the director of the Skaneateles High School Choral and Drama Programs since 1988, directing a 100 voice Mixed Choir, Women’s Choir and several select vocal ensembles as well as over 42 Musical and Drama productions.  He is a graduate of Onondaga Community College, received his Bachelors Degree in Choral Music Education from The Catholic University of America, The Benjamin T. Rome School of Music and his Masters Degree in Music Education from Ithaca College School of Music. 

He has served as the assistant Chorale Director and Contemporary Choir director for the Archdiocesan Cathedral of St. Matthew Apostle, Washington, D.C., Assistant Conductor for the Summer Opera Theatre of Washington D.C., and Musical Director for Muses Rage Theatre Production Company, Hyattsville, MD. 

While serving as director of production and scheduling for the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music he oversaw and performed in a private concert for Pope John Paul II for the Centennial Celebration of The Catholic University of America.  In 2000 the High School Madrigal Choir was invited to perform for the Annual White House Christmas Party during the administration of President and Mrs. Clinton. 

Micheal is Currently Music Director for St. Mary’s of the Lake Church in Skaneateles, a founding member and past Chairman of the Skaneateles Area Council for the Arts, and Artistic and educational Director for the Skaneateles Summer Theatre.  Micheal is a multiple honoree in Who’s Who in American Teachers and Who’s Who in America.

Dinyar Vania

Dinyar Vania is rapidly emerging as one of the America’s most exciting new talents, whose attributes include a rich lyric voice of astonishing power and beauty.  The busy 2007-08 season includes his return to New York City Opera as Rodolfo in  La Bohème, a role he will also sing in his debut with Madison Opera. He will make his debut singing Cavaradossi in Tosca at Dallas Opera and will repeat the role at Sacramento Opera.  He also will perform holiday concerts with the Naples Philharmonic, Verdi concerts with the Jasksonville Symphony Orchestra, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra and the Verdi Requiem with the Dayton Symphony Orchestra.

The 2006-07 season included  Rodolfo in La Bohème at New York City Opera, Opera Roanoke, and Knoxville Opera.   The season continued with debuts at Syracuse Opera as Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, and Toledo Opera as Cavaradossi in Tosca.  He made his debut with Opera Delaware in a Gala Concert and followed this with his first Alfredo in La Traviata at Opera Cleveland.   He also performed Alfredo in La Traviata with Metro Lyric Opera under the baton of Anton Coppola.

Highlights of recent seasons include debuts at Connecticut Grand Opera singing Rodolfo in La Bohème, at Knoxville Opera and Cedar Rapids Opera Theater singing Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, and at Nevada Opera Theater singing Cavaradossi in Tosca.  At New York City Opera he was heard in the role of Meleagros in Mark Adamo’s Lysistrata, and was a featured soloist in their New York City Opera in The Parks concert series.  

Mr. Vania  celebrated his Carnegie Hall debut as tenor soloist in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, as part of a “Pakistani Earthquake Relief Concert,” and also sang the symphony with the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra. 

The beauty of his voice has garnered him “Artist of the Year Award” from Syracuse Opera, First Place in the important Giulio Gari International Vocal Competition, Second Place in the Licia Albanese-Puccini Competition, and he was a semi-finalist in Placido Domingo’s Operalia in Madrid (Spain).  At the prestigious International Vocal Arts Academy in Tel Aviv (Israel) he performed excerpts from Lucia di Lammermoor under the baton of Maestro Paul Nadler and the New Israeli Chamber Orchestra.

Dinyar graduated from Onondaga Community College where he studied with Professor Richard McCullough.

Kristin Bacchiocchi-Stewart

Kristin Bacchiocchi-Stewart is currently pursuing her DMA in Flute Performance at The Peabody Conservatory of Music. She is a Faculty Associate at Peabody and the Flute Professor at Frostburg State University where she also teaches woodwind methods classes and directs the flute ensemble.

Before moving to Baltimore, Ms. Bacchiocchi-Stewart taught flute, music history and music fundamentals classes for four years at Schenectady County Community College. She was a prize winner at the 2002 National Flute Association’s Young Artist Competition, a winner of the 2000 NFA Masterclass Performers Competition, a participant in the First Beijing Nicolet International Flute Competition and has appeared as a semi-finalist in the Myrna Brown and Ducrest Young Artist Competitions. An active performer of contemporary music, Ms. Bacchiocchi-Stewart is also a dedicated chamber musician. She has been a member of TRITONIS (flute, cello, and guitar) since 2001, when they premiered Concerto Grosso by Robert Delfausse with the Lake Placid Sinfonietta. She has played with the Albany Symphony Orchestra, Catskill Symphony, and The Albany Pro Musica. She recently played at the Minato Mirai concert hall in Yokohama, Japan with Nozomi Abe (percussionist).

Ms. Bacchiocchi- Stewart’s academic achievements include a M.M. from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and a B.M. from Ithaca College. She has participated in the Aspen Music Festival, the Colorado College Music Festival, and the Zurich 2000 Masterclass series. Her principle teachers include Marina Piccinini, Bradley Garner, Wendy Mehne, Claudia Anderson and Selma Moore.

Dr. Chuck Spuches

Dr. Chuck Spuches is Associate Dean for Outreach and Instructional Quality at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF), and an adjunct associate professor in the Syracuse University graduate program in Instructional Design, Development, and Evaluation.  He earned a doctorate from Syracuse University in instructional design. He has attended the Wharton School/Institute for Research in Higher Education Executive Education Program, and the Harvard University Institute for the Management of Lifelong Education.  

Prior to pursuing a career in higher education leadership and management, Dr. Spuches was accepted to the Ph.D. in Music Education, University of Michigan and D.M.A., Eastman School of Music (1980).   He has studied percussion with Ernest Muzquiz, (Syracuse Symphony), and had occasional lessons with John Beck (Eastman School of Music); Morris Lang, (New York Philharmonic), and Joe Morello (formerly with the Dave Brubeck Quartet.  He was selected by Judith Somogi to serve as principal percussionist, Utica Symphony Orchestra. His former students have participated in the Grand Teton music festival orchestra;  earned a scholarship (as high school senior) to the University of Michigan School of Music and later served as principal percussionist with the Charlotte Symphony; earned junior-level transfer to the University of Miami Recording Engineering Program and subsequently elected to represent the percussion department in the honors recital in his first semester and, upon graduation, awarded Downbeat Magazine's "Young Recording Artist of the Year"; graduated from the Harvard Divinity School; won grand prize in the "Twin Cities (Minnesota) Best Drummer Contest," and the following year voted "Best Latin Percussionist" in the Minnesota Music Awards.

Spuches’ performance experience has included: Principal Percussionist, Idaho State Civic Symphony, highlighted by concerts with Leonard Pennario, Dave Brubeck, and Kathleen Battle; Clinic/Performances such as the Idaho Music Educators' Association State Convention; Guest Artist, Boise State University Faculty Percussion Recitals; Soloist, Idaho State-Civic Symphony;  Idaho Falls Symphony concert with Doc Sevrenson; Miss Idaho-USA Pageant; Soloist, Hawthorne Junior High and Snake River High School Bands; Pocatello Municipal Concert Band; Maryland-National Institute for Creative and Performing Arts summer chamber ensemble and orchestra, Sergiu Comissiona, conductor; Extra percussionist Syracuse Symphony Orchestra; Rome (N.Y.) Civic Band; Syracuse Municipal Concert Band;  Performances with Bob Hope and Barbara McNair; Various Syracuse University performing organizations, including percussion ensemble, orchestra, jazz ensemble (performed at the Quinnipiac Jazz Festival), and wind ensemble.  Featured soloist: SU School of Music Summer Band, National Conducting Seminar Band, MENC National Convention, NYS School Music Association Convention, SU School of Music Student Honors Recital.

Larry Luttinger

Larry Luttinger is eclectically employed as arts administrator, percussionist and music educator throughout Upstate New York. He is the founder and Executive Director of the Central New York Jazz Arts Foundation, Inc., a not-for-profit performing organization that presents jazz regionally in concert, cabaret, scholastic and festival settings across the region. He has served as Chairman of the S.U. Music Industry Department and Director of S.U. Jazz Ensembles. He has also chaired the Music Departments for the Summerfame High School for the Performing Arts and the Metropolitan School for the Arts. He is Executive Treasurer of the International Association for Jazz Education-NYS Chapter.  Larry graduated from Onondaga Community College and got his masters degree from Syracuse University.

As a performing artist, he is a member of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra.  He plays drum set for the CNY Jazz Orchestra. He recorded and toured extensively for the award-winning Society for New Music during his fourteen-year tenure as their percussionist. He has performed with many well known jazz artists, including Rob McConnell, Clark Terry, Grady Tate, Frank Foster, Benny Golson, Jimmy Heath, Slide Hampton, Buddy DeFranco, Doc Severinson, Bucky Pizzarelli and Howard Alden, Lorne Lofsky, Lena Horne, Maxine Sullivan, The Four Freshmen, Phil Woods and Antonio Hart, among others.  He has more than fifty touring show credits including Sugar Babies, Grand Hotel, City of Angels, Will Rogers Follies, The Producers, Frank Sinatra Jr, Aretha Franklin, Ben Vereen, Suzanne Somers and Johnny Mathis. He has toured or performed with dozens of rock personalities, including Chuck Berry, Del Shannon, Chubby Checker, Petula Clark, and the Moody Blues.

He lives in Liverpool, NY with his wife Margaret, an organizational performance consultant, and their sons Jake and Max 

Gerald Felker

Gerald 'Jerry' Felker teaches high school band in the Cold Spring Harbor school district on Long Island and performs with a variety of groups in the Long Island and tri-state areas.  Mr. Felker plays bass trombone, bass sackbut, baritone horn, and tuba.  His education includes: US Army School of Music, 3rd Armored Division Band, A.S. in Music from Onondaga, B.S. in Music Education from the Crane School of Music at Potsdam College, M.S. in Music Performance from the Crane School of Music at Potsdam College, and a Doctor of Musical Arts in Performance from Stony Brook University. 

Mike Dubaniewicz

Mike Dubaniewicz attended Onondaga as a music major from 1987-88. He has been the musical director and lead alto saxophone player with Maynard Ferguson and his Big Bop Nouveau Band. He has also played with or recorded with: Dianne Schurr, Bobby Shew, Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Slide Hampton, Michael Fienstien, Billy Childs, Phil Ramone, The Temptations, and Mary Wilson of The Supremes.  In Feb. 2009 Mike will release his first CD as a leader entitled "Drive Time". Please visit him on the web at: 

Patrick Denniston

Upon completion of his Associates degree at Onondaga in 1983, Patrick Denniston went on to earn a Bachelor of Music degree at Syracuse University. While at OCC he studied voice with Richard McCullough.

After two consecutive seasons with the Chautauqua Opera, Patrick and his wife, soprano Joan Castrodale Denniston worked together in Opera Memphis’ educational outreach program taking live opera to many hundreds of school children across Tennessee.

He was chosen to join the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s “Lyric Opera Center for American Artists” which would soon propel him into an international career singing leading tenor roles. During the three seasons in the Lyric Opera he sang over 60 performances in various supporting roles. Upon leaving the program, the Lyric’s Artistic Director, Bruno Bartoletti, chose Patrick to be the featured soloist with his own “Orchestra della Toscana” in a concert tour of Tuscany in which he performed Italian tenor arias and eight Verdi pieces arranged by Luciano Berio. He was soon engaged to sing leading roles at the Lyric including Dimitri in “Boris Godunov”, Pinkerton in “Madama Butterfly”, Ismaele in Verdi’s “Nabucco” and Steva in Janacek’s “Jenufa”.

His European operatic debut was at the Spoleto Festival in Italy as Don Jose in a televised production of “Carmen”, directed by Spanish film directors Antonio and Carlos Saura. Other engagements abroad include “Carmen” in Bonn, Germany, “Madama Butterfly” in Israel, Verdi’s “Nabucco” at the Casals Festival in Puerto Rico, “Manon Lescaut” at England’s Glyndebourne Festival, which included live and recorded international broadcasts and has been released on DVD through Kultur International. Des Grieux in Manon Lescaut was also Patrick’s debut role at Italy’s La Scala. In Japan he has been heard as tenor soloist in Verdi’s “Hymn to the Nations” under the direction of Seiji Ozawa at the Saito Kinen Festival.

In North America Patrick has performed leading roles at Arizona Opera, Aspen Festival, Augusta Opera, Calgary Opera, Opera Colorado, Houston Grand Opera, Kentucky Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Madison Opera, Opera Manitoba, Minnesota Opera, New York City Opera, Oswego Opera, Opera Pacific, Palm Beach Opera, Seattle Opera, Syracuse Opera, Vancouver Opera, and Washington National Opera,

The Dennistons currently live in Rockland County in downstate New York.

Jeff Barone

A.A.S. Music – Onondaga., B.Mus Ed.; Ithaca College; M.M. Guitar -Manhattan School of Music

An impressive young guitarist, Jeff Barone has developed a strong reputation with his recordings, live performances, record producing and his over all versatility. His playing invigorates the modern mainstream of jazz, swinging hard while looking forward.

Since moving to NYC in 1993 Jeff has established himself as an in-demand guitarist.  He has worked with jazz artists such as trumpeters, Tom Harrel and Joe Magnarelli, B-3 acid jazz legend Reuben Wilson and the Village Vanguard Orchestra featuring Warren Chiasson.  He has also worked in a wide range of venues including Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall and Birdland among others.  In addition he has worked in the pit orchestras of many Broadway shows including Wicked, Seussical, and James’s Joyces “The Dead” (starring Christopher Walken).  Barone has also toured with The Three Irish Tenors, the Broadway Show “Cats”, and has worked with vocalists Al Martino, Patti LuPone and Baby Washington.  Jeff is currently the guitarist/assistant conductor for the Big Apple Circus.

He has released two critically acclaimed CD’s as a leader, “Crazy Talk” (String Jazz Label 2003) and most recently “Open Up” (Jazzed Media Label 2008), which had peaked in the top forty of the U.S. Jazz Week Charts. As a record producer and guitarist, he has been an invaluable contributor to projects by Jack Wilkins, “Until It’s Time”(Max Jazz Label 2009); saxophonist Mike Dubaniewicz , “Drive Time”(Jazzed Media Label 2009); guitarist Jim Silberstein, “Expresslane”(CAP 2008).  As a sideman he has recorded on Joel Gelpe’s, “Civility in America” (2004); and Rene Mogensen, “Jazz in Culture”(Wassard Jazz 2005/1994). As a composer, trumpeter Carl Fischer recorded two of Jeff’s compositions for his 2004 release Carl Fischer, “Carl Fischer and the Organic Groove Ensemble(Fisch Music 2004). 

Visit Jeff’s website at: 

Michael W. Purdy

Michael was in the Onondaga class of 1971.  After leaving Onondaga he freelanced as a trombonist in central NY.  He substituted frequently with the Syracuse Symphony, was a member of the Stan Collela Band and was a first call for the house band at Three Rivers Inn. He also managed the sheet music department of Onondaga Music Company. 

In 1976 Michael was offered a management position with the Wendell Harrison Music Company and relocated to Rochester, NY.  He continued as a freelance musician and was a regular with the Jeff Tyzak Band, played many performances at the Chautauqua Institute including Tony Bennet, and was often with the shows at the Finger Lakes Performing Arts Center.

In 1986 Mike was offered the position of V.P. of the Dallas Market for J.W. Pepper, world’s largest print music distributor. While in Dallas, TX he became a member of the Dallas Wind Symphony, first as Bass Trombone and then 2nd Trombone.  He is heard on the Recordings "Holst" and "Fiesta" under Howard Dunn and on "Trittico", "Fennell Favorites" and "Pomp and Pipes" under Fredrick Fennell.  The CD "Trittico” won Best Classical Album of 1993 (NAIRD Indie Award).  Mike performed with many ensembles in Dallas including the Plano Chamber Orchestra and the Pete Peterson Collection.

In 1991 Michael was promoted to V.P. of Expansion for J.W. Pepper and later to Director of Research and Development, moving to corporate headquarters in the Philadelphia area.  He was responsible for the acquisition of several print music departments across the country and supervised the opening of 9 of Pepper's 15 locations.  As Dir. of R&D he wrote and established Pepper's first web site, managed their e-commerce development, managed Pepper's electronic music distribution (E-Print) and established a digital Print on Demand process for out of print publications.  He held both titles until he retired from Pepper in 2007.

In Philadelphia Michael is 2nd Trombone for Peter Nero and the Philly Pops, Bass Trombonist of the Riverside Symphonia (Lambertville, NJ), 2nd Trombone with the Ama Deus Ensemble of Philadelphia, Bass Trombone with the Brian Pastor Big Band and the Phil Giordano Big Band.  Mike can be heard on the CD "Holiday Pops" and "Broadway Show Stoppers" under Peter Nero.  He also has recorded The Mozart and Verdi Requiems, Beethoven Symphony #9 and Missa Solemnis on the Lyrichord label with the Ama Deus Ensemble.  He continues as a session musician for NFL Films and is heard on “Inside the NFL”, “America’s Game”, “The Super Bowl”, Themes for Showtime Sports and Major League Baseball.  Other recordings he has done are “Patti Page Live at Carnegie Hall”, winner of a 1999 Grammy Award, and “Common Men" with the Brian Pastor Big Band.