Diane Wittry, Music Director/Conductor

Internationally acclaimed conductor, DIANE WITTRY, was recently named as one of the “Top 30 Professional Musicians” by Musical America Worldwide, and the “Outstanding Alumnus” of the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California. A frequent guest conductor of professional orchestras, Diane Wittry has conducted orchestras in 11 countries throughout the world, including China, Poland, Canada, Bosnia, Russia, Slovakia, Japan, and Italy. In the United States, Wittry has led performances by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra, and the symphony orchestras of Milwaukee, San Diego, Houston, New Jersey, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz, among others, as well as conducting at the music festivals of Ojai (CA), Penn’s Woods (PA), and I‐Park (CT). Wittry is the Music Director and Conductor of the Garden State Philharmonic, NJ, and the Allentown Symphony, PA. She has established a reputation for her creative programming and innovative approach to concert formats and has been described as a conductor who specializes in finding creative ways to make the music fresh, accessible, and exciting.” A tireless advocate for the development of extensive educational and community engagement programs, Diane Wittry won the Helen M Thompson Award from the League of American Orchestras for her work as an artistic leader. Diane Wittry, is also known as the author of “Beyond the Baton,” a book about artistic leadership for conductors, and “Baton Basics” a conducting technique book. She is a frequent guest conducting teacher and lecturer at conducting workshops and music conservatories across the United States.

More information on her work can be found at: www.DianeWittry.com

Diane Wittry, Conductor

Our Musicians

Ben Goldberg, Composer in Residence

Ben Goldberg, Composer in Residence

Ben Goldberg is a New York-based composer who has received awards for his concert music, film music, and academic achievements. He is the Composer-in-Residence for the Garden State Philharmonic for the 2020-2022 Seasons and is a native of Toms River. Goldberg has won composition competitions held by the Allentown Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Joliet Symphony Orchestra, Lexington Philharmonic, and Susanville Symphony. He’s enjoyed a special partnership with the Central Ohio Symphony. They have premiered five of his works including Reconnecting scored for Drum Circle and Orchestra. Reconnecting has been featured in Symphony magazine, and at presentations for The League of American Orchestras and Percussive Arts Society national conferences. The piece received an Honorable Mention for the 2016 American Prize in Composition (Orchestra division). He has given presentations of his works at the Juilliard School and UC Davis.  Goldberg studied composition at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, where he graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Music degree in film composition. He was the recipient of the school’s Film Scoring Achievement Award.

Allison Kiger, Flute

Allison Kiger, Flute

Allison Kiger has played with the Garden State Philharmonic since 2000. She studied flute professionally at Indiana University, McGill University in Montreal and at the Royal Academy of Music in London. She currently plays in several professional orchestras, including the South Florida Symphony, Allentown Symphony, and many others. She is also the Flutist and Director of the Monteux Heritage Orchestra, and Flute Soloist and Curator of the New Composers Program in Bar Harbor, Maine.

Jill Sokol, Flute & Piccolo

Jill Sokol, Flute & Piccolo

Jill Sokol performs on Flute and Piccolo with the Garden State Philharmonic, and the Hudson Valley Philharmonic. She often plays flute for the Allentown Symphony Orchestra and Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic, and she has played solo piccolo with the Southside Sinfonietta. Previous music affiliations include the Dicapo Opera Theatre and Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, as well as the New Haven, Westchester, and Albany Symphonies. Jill has also performed with popular performers Josh Groban, Roger Daltrey, and Natalie Merchant, and she works regularly in chamber music since performing at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival and Aspen Music Festival.

Emily Tsai, Oboe

Emily Tsai, Oboe

Emily Tsai began her musical studies at the age of four on the violin and began playing the oboe when she was 10. She is currently the oboist in the internationally renowned, award winning quintet, WindSync. Emily is dedicated to the education of young people, and has given masterclasses at Northwestern University, New World Symphony, and the Universidad de Panamá to name a few. Her main teachers include Richard Killmer, Mark Hill, and Malcolm Smith. BM, Eastman School of Music; BS, U of Rochester; MM, U of Maryland.

Melissa Kritzer, Bassoon

Melissa Kritzer, Bassoon

Melissa Kritzer is an experienced orchestral and chamber musician. Within the New York City area, Melissa has performed with the New Jersey Symphony, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, the Albany Symphony Orchestra, the New Haven Symphony, the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, the United States Coast Guard Band, and the Reeds Amis trio. Melissa also collaborated to bring the previously unpublished reed trios of composer Fernande Decruck to light, by transcribing manuscripts into notation and recording a CD of the works. Melissa holds bassoon positions with the Mozart Orchestra of New York and the Binghamton Philharmonic.

Karl Kramer, Horn

Karl Kramer, Horn

Norwegian horn player Karl Kramer is a prizewinner from several competitions including the American Horn Competition and the Scandinavian Horn Competition.  He is the recipient of several awards including the George and Elizabeth Gregory Award for Excellence in Performance, the American-Scandinavian Society Cultural Award and a working grant from Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance.  He performs as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral musician across the world.

Michael Baker, Trumpet

Michael Baker, Trumpet

Michael began his studies on the cornet at The Salvation Army with Derek Smith at the age of 9.  He holds both a Bachelor and Master Degree from the Juilliard School where he studied trumpet with Philip Smith of the New York Philharmonic, Mark Gould of the Metropolitan Opera and Edward Treutel. He is a busy freelance musician within the New York area playing with the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera.  He has also plays with the New Jersey Symphony as well as several shows on Broadway.  Michael is also a member of the prestigious Brass Band of Battle Creek.  He can be heard on many recordings of the New York Philharmonic, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, the Metropolitan Opera and both the Montclair Citadel Band and the New York Staff Band of The Salvation Army.  Michael is Professor of Trumpet at William Paterson University, in New Jersey. Michael has toured America, Japan, Australia, the UK, Canada, Norway, Sweden, and Korea as a soloist.  In 2014, Baker was a guest soloist at the International Trumpet Guild Conference.

Tom Cook, Trumpet

Tom Cook, Trumpet

Tom Cook had his debut concert with the Garden State Philharmonic last June. He is currently the 2nd trumpet with the Princeton Symphony, the Lancaster Symphony, and the Academy of Vocal Arts Opera Orchestra in Philadelphia. He regularly performs with the Pennsylvania Ballet, the Reading Symphony, Opera Philadelphia, and the Endless Mountain Music Festival. A graduate of Boston University, Tom has played principal trumpet with the Rhode Island Philharmonic, the Greater Trenton Symphony, and the Pennsylvania Philharmonic. He enjoys teaching, tennis, and the beaches of Cape Cod.

Roger Verdi, Trombone

Roger Verdi, Trombone

Roger Verdi is an active free-lance musician in the New York /New Jersey area. Ensembles he has performed with include: the New Jersey Symphony, American Ballet Theater, New Jersey Festival Orchestra, Allentown Symphony, the New Philharmonic of New Jersey and many others. A versatile musician, he has toured the world with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, and performed in the Ringling Brothers Circus band.   His solo CDs, Looking Ahead: Works for Trombone, released in 2007, Taking Steps: Works for Trombone, 2009, Almost Home: Works for Trombone, 2010, and American Works for Trombone, 2105, have won critical acclaim and sold internationally. His newest, American Works for Trombone, Volume 2, is scheduled for release in the spring of 2020.

Gregory Landes, Percussion

Gregory Landes, Timpani/Percussion

Gregory Landes’ orchestral credits include principal timpanist and percussionist with Garden State Philharmonic , The New Jersey Symphony, , The New Haven Symphony, The American Symphony Orchestra, and many others. Gregory has also performed as a percussionist for over 50 Broadway and Off-Broadway productions. He is also the director of percussion studies at The Calhoun School in New York City.   Since 1997 Gregory has been performing with his brother Garah Landes, pianist, as the piano and percussion duo, “Synchronicity.” Gregory is endorsed by Paiste cymbals and is an Innovative Percussion artist.

Ruotao-Mao, Violin

Ruotao-Mao, Violin

Violinist Ruotao Mao is an active soloist, chamber musician while holding numerous Concertmaster positions in the Tri-state area. Mr. Mao currently serves as the concertmaster of the Riverside Atlantic -Symphonia, the Bay Symphony, Garden State Philharmonic, and the Glimmerglass Opera Orchestra. A native of Beijing, China, Mr. Mao graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music with “distinction in performance” award. He earned his Master Degree in Music from the Mason Gross School of the Arts. As a concerto soloist, he has appeared with orchestras such the Jupiter Symphony, NEC Symphony Corelliard Chamber Orchestra, the Brunswick Symphony Orchestra, Riverside Symphonia, Edison Symphony, the Atlantic Symphony, Arcadian-Philadelphia Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, Bay Symphony Orchestra and Two Rivers Chamber Orchestra among many others.

Uli Speth, Violin

Uli Speth, Violin

Uli Speth completed his undergraduate studies at the Mozarteum in Salzburg/Austria and earned his Master of Music from the Mannes College of Music as a student of Felix Galimir. Uli has performed as an associate first violinist with New York City Opera since 1997 and serves as Concertmaster of the Binghamton Philharmonic Orchestra as well as The Chappaqua Orchestra and has been guest concertmaster with Schenectady Symphony, Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic, Clinton Symphony Orchestra and others. Recent engagements also include American Symphony Orchestra, The Florida Orchestra and Hartford Symphony Orchestra. Uli currently serves on the faculty of The College of New Jersey in Ewing, NJ as well as Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, NC.

Nicholas Pappone, Violin

Nicholas Pappone, Violin

Nicholas Pappone, lauded as a “first rate” violinist by Maestro Lorin Maazel, makes a diverse career as soloist, chamber musician, orchestral musician, and teacher in New York City. Nicholas has performed with members of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Emerson String Quartet, the New York Philharmonic, Vienna Piano Trio, and the Zukerman Chamber Players. He has appeared as soloist with the Chelsea Symphony, Marina del Rey-Westchester Symphony, the Pacific Palisades Symphony, New York Session Symphony, and the New Westchester Symphony. Nicholas also performed with the Cleveland Orchestra as violinist and actor on the Musically Speaking Series in a unique collaboration with actor John De Lancie.

Allison Whelan, Violin

Alyson Whelan, Violin

Alyson Whelan maintains an active performance career as well as being a dedicated educator. She began touring internationally by the age of 12 and has performed throughout North America, including Canada, Europe and Asia. Her European debut occurred in Salzburg and Vienna Austria in 2006. She has performed in many notable concert halls including the Black Box Theater in New York City, Bohemian National Hall in New York City, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center and the Union Performing Arts Center among others. When not performing as a soloist, she performs throughout the New York Metropolitan Area with orchestras such as the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players, Plainfield Symphony, Bergen Sinfonia and the Encore Orchestra. Ms. Whelan performs not only classical works, but also performs as a Celtic violinist and previously as a Pop music artist. She has performed with Celtic Woman and Celtic Thunder in their orchestras.

Krisztina Kiss, Violin

Krisztina Kiss, Viola

Krisztina Kiss is a Hungarian violinist and violist who is a resident of Cranford, NJ. She has 10 years of experience teaching and performing with various orchestras, quartets, jazz bands and cabaret acts all over the world and is in her 2nd season with the Garden State Philharmonic and Diane Wittry. Krisztina earned her Master’s Degree studying at the Liszt Academy of Music in Hungary that is the only institution that was founded by Franz Liszt himself . Krisztina had done post graduate studies at the prestigious Mannes College of Music in New York City under the guidance of Cynthia Phelps the Principal Violist of the New York Philharmonic.

Jameson Platte, Cello

Jameson Platte, Cello

Jameson Platte maintains an active career both as a performer and a teacher. He is currently a member of the critically acclaimed Axis quintet, the Conservatory Quartet, Duo 92 with pianist/composer Matthew Quayle, principal cellist of the Glens Falls Symphony, principal of the Orchestra of Northern New York and assistant principal of the Allentown Symphony.  Mr. Platte works extensively as a clinician, guest conductor and cello coach, performs as a soloist and maintains a large private studio. He is in constant demand as a guest principal cellist throughout the north east. A frequent recitalist in New York City, he has been featured in Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Lincoln Center and the 92nd St. Y, among others. His recitals have been heard throughout North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Mr. Platte is Artist/Faculty at New England Music Camp.

Nathan White, Bass

Nathan White, Bass

Nate White is well known as a freelance double bassist, private teacher, and conductor in his native New Jersey. Mr. White is a graduate of the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University where he studied double bass with Linda McKnight and conducting with Paul Hostetter. As a soloist, Nate has performed concerti with several orchestras in NJ and NY. In 1999, he won the Grand Prize of the NJ ASTA State Solo Competition and in 2008 he won the Montclair State University Concerto Competition. Nate is a double bass professor at Montclair State University. He is also the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the Freelance Ensemble Artists of NJ, Conductor of the FEA Symphony, and Music Director and Conductor of the Essex County Summer Players Orchestra.

Craig Ketter, Piano

Craig Ketter, Piano

Craig Ketter has performed as soloist with the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra, the North Carolina Symphony, the Sacramento Philharmonic, the Oakland East Bay Symphony, the South Orange Symphony, the Garden State Philharmonic, the Raleigh Symphony, the Durham Symphony, the Rocky Ridge Music Festival Orchestra, and the American Festival for the Arts Orchestra. His solo concerts have taken him to Mexico, Argentina, Barbados, France, Germany, and Japan and across the United States and Canada. Mr. Ketter is currently on the piano faculty of New Jersey City University.