Honor Band Conductors

Curt Ebersole

Curt Ebersole

Curt Ebersole has served as the Conductor and Music Director (John P. Paynter Memorial Chair) of the Westchester Symphonic Winds since 2008, fostering its exponential growth over the past thirteen years. He led the Westchester Symphonic Winds in their Lincoln Center debut in March 2010 at Avery Fisher Hall, and at convention and exchange performances in Chicago, Poughkeepsie, Stamford, and Syracuse, as well as seven sold-out summer festival performances at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts (Katonah, NY). He retired from Northern Valley Regional High School (Old Tappan, NJ) in 2013 after serving as Director of Instrumental Music for 31 years. His ensembles were honored with consistent critical accolades, and his instrumental Prism Concerts became a local rite of spring. He now serves on the faculty at The Masters School, in Dobbs Ferry, New York, where he teaches String Ensemble, Chamber Music, and Public Speaking. He earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree and a Master of Music in Conducting degree from Northwestern University, where he studied conducting with John P. Paynter and clarinet with Larry Combs, and a Master of Fine Arts in Clarinet Performance from SUNY-Purchase, where he studied with Ben Armato.

Maestro Ebersole has served as a guest conductor and clinician for numerous county, regional, all-state, and adult community ensembles around the world, including performances at Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Symphony Space, University of Georgia, Syracuse University, Hartwick College, Georgia State University, with the US Army Field Band, as well as performances in Las Vegas, South Korea, and Australia. He is the founding coordinator of the Music Educators of Bergen County Wind Conducting Symposium. He has served as a clinician at the Midwest Clinic, Temple University Wind Conducting and Teaching Workshops, Florida Music Educators Association Convention, and presented his TED Talk, “Framing Failure,” at TEDxOneonta in 2017. He is a practitioner of Positive Psychology and the Harkness Method. His performance achievements include solo and ensemble performances as both a clarinetist and basset hornist.

He was selected as the Northern Valley District Teacher of the Year in 1994 and the Bergen County Teacher of the Year in 1995. The Mayor and Council of Old Tappan honored him for twenty years of service to the community in 2002. The New Jersey Music Educators Association chose him as the recipient of the 2003 Master Music Teacher Award, and he received a Governor’s Award in Arts Education later that year. In 2009 he was the Northern Valley-Old Tappan recipient of the New Jersey Governor’s Teacher Recognition Award. Yale University honored him with their Distinguished Music Educator Award in 2011. Ebersole led the Westchester Symphonic Winds to earn a triple play in The American Prize competition, earning first place for community wind ensemble, second place as conductor, and third place for American music performance. His professional memberships include NAfME, CBDNA, and Pi Kappa Lambda. 

Maestro Ebersole is a native of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and a current resident of White Plains, New York. In addition to his busy musical life, he enjoys riding America’s fastest and tallest roller coasters. 


Leo Sakomoto

Leo Sakomoto

Leo Sakomoto is the Director of Instrumental Studies at California State University, Bakersfield, where he conducts the Concert Band, Symphonic Band, and Chamber Orchestra, directs the Pep Band, and teaches courses in music education and conducting. Under his leadership, the CSUB Instrumental Music program has grown from one large instrumental ensemble to three, and has received several honors, including recognition from the College Band Directors National Association.  He is also the founding advisor of the CSUB Collegiate Chapter of the National Association for Music Education. 

Dr. Sakomoto received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education from California State University, Los Angeles, where he studied conducting with David Buck, Thomas Miyake and Abel Ramirez, and studied trumpet with Kevin Brown and James Ford. He received his Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music degrees in conducting from UCLA under the mentorship of Thomas Lee. He has also studied with conductors such as Richard Floyd, Jerry Junkin, Craig Kirchhoff, Allan McMurray, and H. Robert Reynolds. As part of his continued professional development, Dr. Sakomoto completed all three levels of study in the Kodály Method through the Organization of American Kodály Educators.

Dr. Sakomoto is a committed champion of new music for wind band, having commissioned directly or involved with consortiums from composers such as Xi Wang, Adam Schoenberg, Andrew Boysen Jr, Dante De Silva, Kyle Shaw, James Sproul, and Nathan Felix.

Dr. Sakomoto maintains an active schedule as a guest conductor, clinician, and adjudicator at the middle school through university levels.  Recent guest conducting engagements include honor ensembles in Texas, South Carolina and California, and rehearsal clinics in Ecuador. He is active as a conference presenter, previously lecturing on wind band repertoire and conducting, and most recently presenting a clinic on music festival performance practice and preparation at the California All-State Music Educators Conference.  Awards received include Outstanding College/University Music Educator and Music Educator of the Year, both from the Kern County Music Educators Association. He was an invited participant in the Nordic Wind Band Conducting Competition in Helsinki, Finland. 

Dr. Sakomoto currently serves on the boards of the Kern County Music Educators Association, Bakersfield Youth Symphony Orchestra, and the Central Section of California Music Educators Association. He is a member of the College Band Directors National Association, the National Association for Music Education, California Music Educators Association, Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association, American String Teachers Association, and the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles.