The Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey’s conductors are among the finest local, professional musicians that this culturally rich area has to offer. They are all consummate teachers as well as active performers. Under the leadership of Artistic Director, Phillip Pugh, they work diligently and collectively to bring the best level of musicianship to all of our performers and performances.
Mr. Phillip Pugh
Phillip Pugh, Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey Artistic Director and Conductor of the Pro Arte and String Preparatory Orchestras, holds a Master’s degree in music theory and a Bachelor’s degree in music education from Temple University. In addition to extensive study in violin performance, Mr. Pugh is a registered Suzuki teacher, and has also studied string instrument repair and set-up under the tutelage of leading luthiers. As a violinist and violist, he performs with the Boheme Opera Company and the New Jersey Capital Philharmonic Orchestra. He also teaches at West Windsor-Plainsboro’s Millstone River School, has served on the faculty of the Csehy Summer School of Music, and maintains an active private teaching studio. Mr. Pugh has been with the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey since 1988.
Dr. Jordan Smith
Dr. Jordan Smith, conductor of the Saxophone Choir and Saxophone Ensemble, holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Rutgers University, a Master of Music in saxophone performance from Manhattan School of Music and a Bachelor of Music in music education degree from the College of New Jersey. He has concertized throughout the U.S., Germany, Austria, Czech Republic and Greece as a soloist, conductor, chamber and orchestral musician, and has recently performed with the New World Symphony, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Bravura Philharmonic, Sifodec Orchestra and more at such venues as Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium, Lincoln Center’s Bruno Walter Auditorium, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Knight Concert Hall at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami, Symphony Space in NYC and Yamaha Concert Hall in New York City. As a chamber musician in New York City and member of the Manhattan Saxophone Quartet, he has premiered works over 30 works for saxophone by composers including Mark Stambaugh, Marilyn Shrude, David Noon, Hayes Biggs, Marc-Antonio Consoli, James Adler and Robert McMahan. Articles by Dr. Smith appear often in TEMPO Magazine, in addition to publications in the 2015 edition of The Saxophone Symposium and the 2011 issue of the Saxophone Journal. In addition to Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey, Dr. Smith is an adjunct professor at Saint Peter’s University in Jersey City where he teaches music history. He maintains a large private studio in Hightstown, NJ, and can be heard on Ravello, Carrier and Navona Records. Dr. Smith joined the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey in 2010 as saxophone director and became the overall recruitment director for the organization in 2015.
Mr. Scott Collins
Scott Collins, Conductor of the Wind Symphony and the Woodwind Choir, holds a Master’s Degree in Clarinet Performance, a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education, both from Temple University, as well as an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts from Valley Forge Military College. He studied clarinet with Charles Salinger, Lawrence Wagner, Ronald Reuben and Anthony Gigliotti. Mr. Collins has been teaching in the West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District since 2004, where he has directed ensembles including concert band, jazz band, marching band, and string orchestra. Currently, he teaches concert band at the Community Middle School. In July 2011, he was named a “Conducting Fellow” for the Conducting Workshop for Music Educators at the Juilliard School. Mr. Collins has performed as a clarinetist with many regional ensembles, including the Haddonfield Symphony, the Opera Festival of New Jersey, the Princeton Festival, the Network for New Music, The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, and the Arts at St. John’s. These concerts included appearances with artists such as Itzhak Perlman, Midori, Gary Graffman, Dame Julie Andrews, and the Moody Blues. He was a featured soloist in May 2014 with the Arts at St. John’s, performing the Clarinet Concerto in A Major by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Mr. Collins joined the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey in 2015.
Mrs. Sandy Olson
Sandy Olson, Conductor of the Flute Choir, holds a Master of Music in flute performance from Western Illinois University, a Bachelors degree in music education from Arkansas State University, and completed her DMA coursework in flute performance at the University of Illinois. She has been a flute teacher and director of the summer flute camp at Westminster Conservatory as well as a middle school music teacher in South Brunswick, New Jersey for the past twenty years. For the National Flute Association, Sandy is past chairman of both the High School Soloist Competition and the High School Flute Choir Competition. Her love of nurturing young students started with her Suzuki Flute Teacher Training with Tatsumi Shiojima. She has performed at both the National Flute Association and British Flute Association flute conventions with Wye’s Guys Flute Quintet, and with orchestras throughout Illinois and Florida. Sandy joined the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey staff in 2016.
Mr. Christopher Colaneri
Chris Colaneri, Conductor of the Percussion Ensemble, holds a Master’s in music education from New Jersey City University and a Bachelor’s degree in classical performance from Rowan University. Mr. Colaneri has been teaching in the New York and New Jersey Public schools since 1996. His current position is with the Berkeley Heights Public School System. He recently co-founded and is currently the President of the Percussion Educator’s Association of New Jersey. Mr. Colaneri’s orchestral endeavors have taken him to Spain, France, Israel and Jordan. He performs yearly with Josh Groban as his Radio City Music Hall timpanist and has also shared the stage with Cindi Lauper, Itzhak Perlman, Breland, Warren Haynes, Hanson, Rita Wilson and Il Volo. Locally, he has performed with the Plainfield Symphony, South Orange Symphony, Haddonfield Symphony, and Metropolitan Orchestra of New Jersey. As a vibist, marimba and Latin percussion performer, Mr. Colaneri has led his own jazz quartet CCQ for the past eighteen years. This ensemble has given featured performances at NJPAC, various jazz clubs, private corporate and political functions and jazz festivals throughout NJ. Mr. Colaneri has given lectures at Rowan University, Temple, Mason Gross, the New Jersey Music Educator’s State Convention and All Eastern. As an author for Oxford University Press, his recent method book The Total Percussionists, can be found in classrooms throughout the USA and abroad. In addition to his musical endeavors, Mr. Colaneri can be found on the small screen as a background actor for such shows as The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon Prime), The Time Traveler’s Wife (HBO Max) and Just Like That…(HBO Max). Mr. Colaneri joined the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey in 2017.
Mrs. Barbara Witmer
Barbara Witmer, Coach of the Symphonic Woodwinds, holds a Master’s Degree in Music Education from Ithaca College and a Bachelor’s from Lebanon Valley College, also in Music Education. Ms. Witmer is a member of the faculty at Millstone River School in the West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District where she teaches elementary band. Barbara Witmer plays oboe in the New Jersey Capital Philharmonic Orchestra and performs as a free lance musician in the area. In addition, she maintains a studio of private oboe students. She served on the Alumni Committee of the Board of Trustees for two years. Ms. Witmer joined the staff of the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey in 2018.
Mrs. Shannon Ferrara
Shannon Ferrara, the coach and conductor of the Brass Program, holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from The College of New Jersey. Mrs. Ferrara has been teaching band in the West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District for 21 years, first at Millstone River School (formerly Upper Elementary School), then moving to Village School for many years, and then finally “graduating” to middle school where she is now in her 8th year. In addition to public school teaching, she also maintains a private horn studio and continues to perform with such groups as The Eastern Wind Symphony, Garden State Symphonic Band, Plainfield Symphony, Nassau Brass, Quintessential Brass, and other orchestras, bands, and pit orchestras around New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Mrs. Ferrara has also been involved in community theater for 20 years, mostly with musical direction, but has performed other roles both on and off stage. At home, she spends her free time with her three cats, two kids, and husband. Mrs. Ferrara joined the staff of The Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey in 2021.
Kenneth Bean is the conductor of the Symphonic Orchestra. He is an instructor and conductor in the Philadelphia area, as well as an active freelance trumpeter. He earned a Bachelor of Music from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and a Master of Music Education from Jackson State University. He has taught at many festivals and schools, including The School District of Philadelphia, Settlement Music School, The Premier Orchestral Institute of the Mississippi Symphony, and Play On Philly. Although he enjoys teaching and performing, Kenneth’s passion is on the podium. He has appeared as a guest conductor for the Marywood String Festival, Berks County Orchestra Festival and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. His past Music Director/ Conductor appointments include the Junior String Philharmonic of the Lehigh Valley, the Young People’s Philharmonic of the Lehigh Valley and Luzerne Music Center. Kenneth currently serves as Assistant Conductor of Symphony in C, Conductor of the Symphony in C Youth Orchestra in Collingswood, NJ, and Director/Conductor of the Young Musicians Debut Orchestra, the newest full orchestra within the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra Music Institute. In the summers, Maestro Bean serves as Co-Director of the Symphony in C Summer Camp and Conductor at Kinhaven Music School Junior Session in Weston, VT. Maestro Bean is the Assistant Conductor of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra in Princeton, NJ as well as the Symphonic Orchestra Conductor for the affiliated Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey since 2021.