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Brass Day

SUNY Schenectady Brass Day

Saturday, October 14, 2023

SUNY Schenectady School of Music invites brass players of all ability levels to a day with some of the area's finest professional players. Spend the day immersed in music making with other brass players as you attend a Master Class, and enjoy a free Brass Abbey performance.


9:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.
SUNY Schenectady, School of Music Building

9:00 a.m. - Meet and Greet 

9:15 a.m. - Masterclasses led by Brass Abbey and SUNY Schenectady Faculty Members

10:15 a.m. - Brains Over Brawn Approach to Trumpet Playing: How to Play Smarter, Not Harder with Dr. Allyson Keyser 
OR Sliding Into Home Base: Making the Trombone Work for YOU with Phil Pandori

11:15 a.m. - Rehearsal with Brass Faculty for side-by-side piece

12:15 p.m. - Lunch Break

1:15 p.m. - Lecture on repairs and ultrasonic cleanings by Chris Cromer

2:00 p.m.- Brass Day Concert 

3:15 p.m. - College Audition preparation/Professionalism/Music Careers and tour of the State-of-the-Art Recording Studio and Postproduction Lab 

4:15 p.m. - Jazz Combo Jam Session

Register for Brass Day


Dr. Allyson Keyser playing a trumpet.Dr. Allyson Keyser

Professor of Trumpet, Wind Ensemble, Brass Ensemble, Brass Tech, Conducting, Music History, Aural Skills, founding member of Brass Abbey

Allyson Keyser is a tenured Professor of Music at SUNY Schenectady County Community College where she instructs the trumpet studio, coaches brass ensembles, teaches core music classes, directs the Wind Ensemble, and is the Brass Department Chair. Dr. Keyser received her B.M.E from Virginia Commonwealth University and her M.M. and D.M.A. from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where she was the trumpet teaching assistant for five years.  In 2017, Dr. Keyser won the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. Prior to her appointment at SUNY Schenectady, Dr. Keyser taught trumpet, theory, aural skills, and coached brass ensembles at Virginia Commonwealth University as a sabbatical replacement for her former professor, Rex Richardson. She also performed as principal trumpet of the Richmond Brass Consort, Commonwealth Winds, Richmond Symphonic Winds, Richmond Philharmonic, Greene City Brass Quintet, and played regularly with Market Street Brass Quintet. Her past trumpet teachers include Gary Gompers, Rex Richardson, Ed Bach, and Julius Schaikewitz.

Dr. Keyser currently performs as principal trumpet in the Capital Region Wind Ensemble, SUNY Schenectady Concert Brass Quintet, Albany Pro Musica, and often performs with the Albany Symphony, Schenectady Symphony, and Glens Falls Symphony in addition to several local concert bands. She often presents trumpet masterclasses and conducting workshops at schools such as the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam, Virginia Commonwealth University, Hartwick College, Skidmore College, NYSSMA, NYSBDA, CASDA conference, as well as to area high schools and middle schools.  

During the summer of 2015 Dr. Keyser entertained patrons at the Saratoga Race Course as a bugler for their summer season, including the famous Traver’s Day, and at Belmont Racetrack. She has been featured as a soloist with the Richmond Brass Consort, the Capital Region Wind Ensemble, the Johnstown Civic Band, the Memorial Concert Band of Colonie, the Schenectady Unitarian Society, First Reformed Church of Schenectady, and was featured with Rex Richardson at SUNY Schenectady’s 45th Anniversary Gala. Dr. Keyser performs as an active freelance musician and maintains a trumpet studio of all ages and levels in the Capital Region of New York. Her specialty is working with students who have technical or physical challenges on the instrument, and helping them learn to play with ease so they can fully enjoy making beautiful music.                                                                                                         

Phil Pandori holding a trombone.Phil Pandori

Adjunct Instructor of Low Brass, founding member of Brass Abbey

Phil Pandori ​teaches band in the Niskayuna Central School District located in the Capital Region of New York State. He directs the High School Concert Band, High School Stage Band, the full band program at Glencliff Elementary School as well as Middle and High School brass and percussion lessons. Previously, Phil has taught 6th, 7th, and 8th Grade Band in the District. In addition to his work at Niskayuna, Phil maintains a low brass studio and is Adjunct Professor of Low Brass at Schenectady County Community College.

Phil earned his undergraduate degree in Music Education from the Crane School of Music, where he also minored in Jazz Studies and earned a certificate in Trombone Performance under Mark Hartman and Bret Zvacek. Phil earned his Masters Degree in Trombone Performance from the Hartt School of Music under Ronald Borror.

Phil currently holds the Principal Trombone seat in the Schenectady Symphony Orchestra, and works frequently as a freelance musician in the Capital Region. He most recently joined the New York Players Entertainment Group as the full time trombone player for Upstate New York's premier party band.


Omar Williams holding a trumpetOmar Williams

Trumpet, founding member of Brass Abbey

Omar Williams currently teaches at Shaker Middle School in Latham, NY where he directs the band and jazz ensemble. He is also an adjunct professor at RPI, giving trumpet lessons, recording studio sessions, and running brass sectionals for the orchestra. Williams holds a Master of Music Education and a Bachelor of Trumpet Performance and Music Education from Ithaca College.

An active freelancer, he has performed with many local ensembles including the Silver Arrow Band, New York Players, Schenectady Symphony, Glens Falls Symphony, and Sage City Orchestras. He plays with the Keith Pray Big Soul Ensemble and formerly was lead trumpet player of the Joey Thomas Big Band. Williams regularly plays for local churches, musicals and opera productions. He has performed in renowned venues such as Carnegie Hall, Troy Music Hall, Cohoes Music Hall, Proctor’s Theatre, Palace Theatre and was a bugler at the Saratoga and Belmont Racetracks. Internationally, he has toured in Ireland, England, France, Austria, Belgium and Germany. Most recently he recorded on an album in Jerusalem, Israel and has been invited to play with bands in Ireland. 

Giving back to the organizations that supported him as a young musician is a great source of pride. He is a board member of ESYO and chairperson of the Middle School Honor Band for NYSBDA. Williams resides in historic Troy, NY, as the proud homeowner of a house that was used in the famed Norman Rockwell painting—The Street Was Never the Same. As an active runner, he can often be found at many local races and is currently training for the NYC marathon.


Catherine Pandori holding a horn, standing in forest.Catherine Pandori

Horn, founding member of Brass Abbey

Catherine currently serves as Director of 7th-12th Grade Bands in the Greenwich Central School District. At Greenwich, Mrs. Pandori directs the Junior Band, Senior Band, Junior Jazz Band, Senior Jazz Band, and Pit Orchestra; teaches instrumental lessons; and co-advises the National Honor Society.

As a hornist, Mrs. Pandori maintains a private studio while frequently freelancing throughout the Capital Region with groups such as the Schenectady Symphony Orchestra and the Battenkill Chorale. She is also a founding member of the chamber groups Velocity Horns and Brass Abbey. Mrs. Pandori received the Bachelor of Music in Music Education and Performance from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam, and the Master of Music in Performance from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Her principal teachers include Kelly Drifmeyer, Roy Schaberg, and Laura Klock. Mrs. Pandori lives in Saratoga Springs, New York with her husband, Phil and daughters, Genevieve and Mary. 


Headshot of Michael SilvagnoliMichael Silvagnoli

Tuba, founding member of Brass Abbey

Michael holds a Bachelor’s of Music and a Master’s of Music in Music Education from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam. He has taught 6th, 7th, and 8th grade bands and Middle School Jazz Ensemble in the Shenendehowa Central School District since 2003 and has been teaching tuba at Skidmore College since 2005. He also maintains a low brass studio and has conducted at various All County Festivals throughout the Capital Region. 

Michael has studied tuba with Dr. Peter Popiel and Dr. Charles Guy and has performed in a wide dynamic of performing groups such as the Glens Falls Symphony Orchestra, Schenectady Symphony Orchestra, Capital Region Wind Ensemble, Northern Symphonic Winds, and the Gazelle Tour of Lion King at Proctor’s Theater. He is also a member of the brass quintet, Brass Abbey which actively performs concerts throughout the Capital Region. He currently resides in Ballston Lake with his wife Leia and three daughters, Adelaide, Emelia, and Lucille. 


Headshot of Chris Cromer.Chris Cromer

Owner of A Minor Tune Up

Chris Cromer started A Minor Tune Up in February 2001 while attending the University of Delaware as a music education major. What began as exploring a curiosity in an instrument storage room in the UD music building, quickly grew into a career goal and a passion in life.

At the age of 19, after winning an audition, Chris moved to California to join the world champion Blue Devils Drum & Bugle Corps. It was while living in CA as a corps member, that he was first exposed to the world of brass technology. On occasion, Chris would visit the repair shop of Best Music in Oakland, CA, headed by Dick Akright, to get the Blue Devils' horns repaired. During that period Akright was also manufacturing trumpets under the Bel Canto name for Doc Severinsen. Marveling at the variety of equipment being used & hearing the depth of knowledge from those in the shop stuck with him.  

Even as a kid, Chris always had an interest in how things worked & had a natural aptitude for engineering & fabrication. In 1997, while teaching high school marching band as a brass tech, Chris recognized some inherent issues with the mellophones the band was using. Out of curiosity he called the manufacturer & after learning some unsettling facts, he made some crude modifications to remedy the problems on his own.  

From there Chris took a personal interest in brass design and started studying brasswind physics & researched the work of great craftsmen such as Renold Schilke & Zig Kanstul, among others. Chris befriended, and later apprenticed with, local instrument repair tech Marc Gullo (a Red Wing graduate) and started experimenting with used horns he found online to try various ideas he had. He discovered a small storage space in the basement of the music building [at UD] and got permission to use it as a lab of sorts to work on projects in between classes. In exchange for use of the space he performed free repairs for the university owned instruments. Eventually other students & even some faculty started bringing in their own instruments for repair.

"As I continued to learn more & more, players would ask me technical questions & seemed to value my opinion… I started to really enjoy what I was doing & loved seeing the impact it had on music performance." After about 2 years of working in the basement shop it became clear this is what Chris wanted to do with his life so he decided to forgo a teaching career & instead focus his time & financial resources on his new growing business.