Artistic Staff

Mark Alpizar

Mark Alpizar

Music Director, Vermont Youth Orchestra Association

Southern California native, Mark Alpizar, has enjoyed a multifaceted career as a conductor, clarinetist, and music educator throughout the United States. He is the recently-appointed music director of the Vermont Youth Orchestra Association and will conduct the Vermont Youth Orchestra this season.

Prior to his move to Vermont, he was the assistant conductor of the Cleveland Pops Orchestra, the American Youth Symphony, the National Repertory Orchestra, and the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra. In addition to his professional positions, Alpizar was instrumental faculty at Lake Erie College in Ohio, and conducting faculty at CSU Long Beach’s Bob Cole Conservatory of Music. Committed to music education, Alpizar was the music director of the Four Seasons Youth Orchestra in Orange County for seven seasons where he commissioned over a dozen new works, toured internationally, and conducted side-by-side performances with the Dana Point Symphony.

Alpizar received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Arizona State University where he created the Orchestra’s first video game concert, conducted a nationally-lauded and award-winning production of Poulenc’s Les Mamelles de Tirésias, and studied conducting with Jeffery Meyer and Tito Muñoz. He holds a masters degree and two bachelors degrees from CSU Long Beach’s Bob Cole Conservatory of Music.

Yutaka Kono

Yutaka Kono

Conductor, Vermont Youth Philharmonia

The Artistic Director of the Burlington Chamber Orchestra, Dr. YUTAKA KONO has quickly gained a high reputation as an effective leader of professional, higher education and selective youth orchestras. Dr. Kono also serves as the conductor of Vermont Youth Philharmonia and the Director of Orchestra/Associate Professor of Music at the University of Vermont. Prior to moving to Vermont, he was the Assistant Conductor of the Kingsville Symphony Orchestra (TX). Dr. Kono previously taught at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, The University of Texas at San Antonio, the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and The University of Texas at Austin. He has been recognized as a finalist for The American Prize for Orchestral Conducting College/University Division (2014), Professional Division with BCO (2015), and Youth Division with VYP (2016). He has studied conducting with Jerry Junkin, Mark Kelly, Eugene Dowdy, Peter Bay and Silas Huff. Dr. Kono was selected to attend the Summer Conductors Institute at the Eastman School of Music where he studied with Maestro Neil Varon and conducted the Rochester Philharmonic.

As a composer and arranger, Dr. Kono’s composition “Mamma at the Gate” for Dancers and Electronics earned Bronze Medal of the Global Music Award. His music and arrangements have been performed in multiple countries and are published by Tuba-Euphonium Press, Cimarron Press, SMP Press, and Linus Publications. He studied composition with Alex Lubet, Stephan Paulus, and Donald Grantham, and orchestration with the Pulitzer winner Dominic Argento, Judith Lang Zeimont, and Donald Wilson.

A highly active performer on tuba, Dr. Kono has been seen across the genre. As a soloist, he is the winner of the concerto competition held at the University of Minnesota and soloed with many orchestras and bands in Vermont, Ohio, Minnesota, Texas, and Tokyo. He was the principal tubist of the Victoria Symphony Orchestra (TX), and his orchestral credits include the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra, Kingsville Symphony Orchestra (TX), San Antonio Symphony Orchestra, Austin Symphony Orchestra, and many others. His diverse interest has led him to perform with non-classical ensembles ranging from Jazz, Dixieland to Rock and Klezmer. He studied the tuba with Ivan Hammond, Ross Tolbert, Steven Bryant, Robert Lindahl, Daniel Perantoni, Harvey Phillips, Donald Little, David Zerkel, David Saygers, Paul Hunt, and Eichi Inagawa. He currently performs with a local tuba-euphonium quartet, MetalWerx.

Internationally recognized as a pedagogue and a strong advocate of music education, Dr. Kono has taught hundreds of private students and provided countless clinics and masterclasses. His students have received awards in regional, national and international competitions. He received Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin, and Masters and Bachelors from University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and Bowling Green State University respectively.

Asiat "Ace" Ali

Asiat "Ace" Ali

Conductor, Vermont Youth Strings

ASIAT ALI, a 1988 graduate of the VYO, is the String Instructor for the Essex Junction Public Schools where he teaches beginning through middle school strings and conducts the Essex High School Orchestra. A member of the Vermont Youth Orchestra Assocation’s artistic staff, he currently directs the Vermont Youth Strings, and he is the former director of the beginning string ensemble Presto. He also served as interim conductor of the Vermont Youth Sinfonia. He has guest conducted district string orchestras in Vermont, New Hampshire, and New York. In addition he teaches a private studio of violin and viola students. As a violinist, Asiat is a member of the Burlington Chamber Orchestra and has performed with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra, the Vermont Philharmonic Orchestra, the University of Vermont Orchestra and the Burlington Choral Society. Asiat began his violin instruction in the third grade with Melissa Brown in the same school system where he now teaches. At the University of Vermont, he earned his Violin Performance Degree as a student of Thomas and Evelyn Read. He then continued his violin studies for two years with Phillipe Quesnel at the Conservatoire National de Region in Rouen, France.

Edward Owens

Edward Owens

Da Capo Conductor

A native of Syracuse, New York, Edward Owens has been teaching music in the Burlington School District (VT) since 2005 and is currently the band director at Hunt Middle School. Ed previously taught instrumental music at Dobbs Ferry Middle/High School (Dobbs Ferry, NY), the Ithaca School District (Ithaca, NY) and Cedar Lee Middle School (Warrenton, VA). During his tenure as instrumental music teacher in the Burlington Schools he has taught performance ensembles grades 6-12, including string orchestra, symphonic orchestra, freshman band, concert band, wind ensemble, jazz ensemble, pit orchestra, and pep band. He was voted the Burlington High School "Teacher of the Year" in 2013. Ed is a graduate of Syracuse University with a Bachelors of Music and Masters of Music in Music Education. He is an active performer, conductor and educator performing with many groups including Pine Street Jazz, the Swingin’ Vermont Big Band and Vermont Symphonic Winds. He currently resides in Essex, VT with his wife Gretchen and children Isabelle and Teddy.

Kathleen Kono

Kathleen Kono

Conductor, Presto & Prelude!

KATHLEEN KONO is a music educator both in private violin and violas lessons and group orchestra classes. Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Kathleen attended Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music receiving her Bachelor of Music degree then attending The University of Texas at Austin graduating with a Masters of Music degree. She has been the Director of Orchestras at Deerpark Middle School in Round Rock, Texas where she was named Teacher of the Year. Kathleen also taught at Hamlin Middle School and Ray High School in Corpus Christi, Texas where she was also named Teacher of the Year for the Ray High School Campus and was a Semi-Finalist for Teacher of the Year in the Corpus Christi School District.

In 2011, Kathleen and her family relocated to Burlington, Vermont where Kathleen conducts the Presto and Prelude! Orchestras at the Vermont Youth Orchestra Association. She also teaches strings to all 3rd, 4th and 5th graders at the Integrated Arts Academy in Burlington, holds a private Suzuki violin and viola studio and was just named Orchestra Director at Burlington High School. Besides teaching, Kathleen performs with the Burlington Chamber Orchestra where she served on the Musician’s Committee. She also is an active parent in the Vermont Suzuki Violin Program and a parent of two VYOA musicians.

Patricia Jancova

Patricia Jancova

Violin & Viola

PATRICIA JANCOVA received a Master of Music degree in violin performance from Syracuse University’s Setnor School of Music where she studied with renowned violinist/violist and pedagogue, Laura Bossert. During her graduate studies, she played both violin and viola at Setnor as well as for chamber music festivals LyricaFest and Festival Baltimore. While completing her undergraduate degree at the Frost School of Music, Miss Jancova studied abroad at the prestigious Sydney Conservatorium, where she was a student of Alice Waten. Miss Jancova has played in numerous ensembles including the Binghamton Philharmonic, Miami Lyric Opera, the New England Symphonic Ensemble, Philadelphia Sinfonia, the Sydney Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra, the Lyrica-Boston Chamber Orchestra, and the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra. Versed in a wide range of musical styles, she has also had the privilege of performing with artists including Mark O’Connor, Bobby McFerrin, George Benson, Chick Corea, Gloria Estefan, and Dawn Upshaw.

As an educator, Miss Jancova has worked with students from the onset of their musical training to the pre-professional level at the Florida Youth Orchestra, the Greater Miami Youth Symphony, the Syracuse Youth Orchestra, and as a Teaching Assistant for the music outreach program at the University of Miami. Her teaching style is a conglomerate influenced by several different pedagogues and schools including the O’Connor and Suzuki methods. Miss Jancova hopes to help VYOA musicians find their unique musical voice, to develop proper technique on their instruments, to hone personal skills such as responsibility and self-motivation, and to foster a general love of music and music-making in their lives.

Cleo Flemming

Cleo Flemming


CLEO FLEMMING received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Music and Psychology from the University of Vermont where she studied with cellist Suzanne Polk. Throughout her undergraduate studies she was the cellist of the Redstone String Quartet and a member of the UVM Symphony Orchestra, where she performed in the annual UVM Concerto Competition in 2017. Cleo is a long standing participant of Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music and has attended Allegro Vivo, an international chamber music festival in Austria. As a freelance cellist, Cleo has worked for multiple musical theatre productions for FlynnSpace, Stowe Theatre Guild and UVM including FlynnSpace’s off-Broadway production of Fun Home, and the Flynn Summer Youth Theatre Program. She has worked closely with composer and director Randal Pierce on his original work for children’s theatre and has the privilege collaborating with many talented Burlington songwriters, including Honey and Soul, Francesca Blanchard, and Myra Flynn.

As a teacher, Cleo has instructed the after school cello program at Edmund‘s School and held a private studio through the Burlington Music Dojo. Cleo organizes her lessons to emphasize the student’s personal musical growth through the style to which they feel most connected, all while deepening an understanding of music theory and practical technique. When she’s not teaching, you can find her at home with her wacky cat, Banana, or out and about making coffee for the vibrant folks of Burlington, Vermont!

Administrative Staff

Rosina Cannizzaro

Executive Director
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Art DeQuasie

Director of Operations
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Mia Fritze

Operations Assistant
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Brea Landberg

Office Manager
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Avery MacDonald

Marketing & Development Coordinator
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