Anthony LaGruth, Conductor
Sarita Marie Melkon, flutist/alto flutist/piccoloist, received a master’s degree in music from the University of the Arts under the tutelage of Julius Baker where she graduated with honors as the winner of the music school’s concerto competition. She holds a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music as an Alumni scholarship recipient, having studied with Richard Sherman. During her high school years she was a scholarship student at the Manhattan School of Music Pre-College and received her diploma from the Juilliard School of Music Pre-College where she studied with Dr. Bradley Garner. Sarita, as the winner of numerous competitions, has been a featured performer in the master classes of Michael Parloff, Eleanor Lawrence, Peggy Schecter and a recitalist/chamber musician for a concert tour of Italy with Julius Baker. She has studied flute privately with Paige Brook, Laura George, Karen Purpura and studied piano with Joan Stein.
As a winner of the concerto competition sponsored by Sessione Senese per la Musica, Sarita performed with the Orchestra in Siena, Italy as well as touring with the orchestra on piccolo for a season throughout Italy and Switzerland. As a recitalist and chamber musician, she has performed in several concert halls, cathedral concert and museum concert series throughout the tri-state area including Lincoln Center, Merkin Concert Hall, St. John the Divine, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art to name a few. As an orchestral musician, she performs with the NJ Pops, the Garden State Philharmonic Orchestra, the Oratorio Society of NJ, the Wayne Chamber Orchestra, the Montclair Chamber Orchestra, the North Jersey Philharmonic Orchestra, the Verismo Opera Company Orchestra, the Gilbert & Sullivan Company of both NY and NJ and the Bergen Philharmonic.
Sarita’s teaching specialty is performance practice technique and competition/audition preparation. Her students have won seats in the highly prestigious Regional/All North Jersey bands and orchestras and have been accepted to famous music schools including the Manhattan and Juilliard School of Music Pre-College Divisions, the Peabody Conservatory Summer Music Programs and the Royal Academy of Music in England. She received her D. Litt. in 2015 from Drew University in music having written a piano pedagogical dissertation titled, “Mind Over Music: An Analytical Approach to Teaching the Beginner/Intermediate Piano Student.” Sarita resides in Essex County in a one hundred year old farm house with her husband and three children, all of which are accomplished musicians. She enjoys giving family concerts and performing with her family for gigs and events.
American conductor Anthony LaGruth has delighted audiences and critics alike with many exciting performances recognized for their innovative presentation of orchestral music. Roxanne Orgill of the Bergen Record (NJ) observed that, “Mr. LaGruth conducts with subtlety and a refined sense of style that is refreshing.” The Ellsworth American (Maine) noted his “…control, musicianship, and involvement with the music,” and Michael Greenberg of the San Antonio Express-News said, “Maestro LaGruth brought crisp definition, dramatic sensitivity, and stylishly flexible tempos to the score.” He serves as Music Director and Conductor of the Livingston Symphony Orchestra (NJ), and Associate Conductor of the North Shore Symphony (NY). He continues his post as the Music Director of the North Shore Music Festival (NY). For 17 seasons, he served as Artistic Director and Conductor of the Garden State Philharmonic (NJ), as well as six seasons as Music Director of the Lyric Opera of San Antonio (TX). Mr. LaGruth has worked with some of the greatest composers of our age, including Hans Werner Henze, John Corigliano, Joan Tower, and Pulitzer Prize winner Karel Husa. He has collaborated with a wide range of soloists across a broad range of styles, including Frederica von Stade, Judith Ingolfsson, Philip Smith, Neil Sedaka, Craig Schulman, and Broadway’s Three Phantoms. A proponent of American music, Mr. LaGruth is a co-founder of the League of American Orchestras’ commissioning project, Made In America. This program offered regional orchestras throughout the country the opportunity to commission works by major American composers. The project made its debut in 2005 to national acclaim with a work by Joan Tower, with 65 orchestras representing all 50 states. He is now a member of the steering committee for New Music for America. Mr. LaGruth made his European debut in Romania leading concerts with several orchestras including the state philharmonics of Satu Mare, Botosani, and Raumnica Valcea. He also made his Lincoln Center debut under the auspices of Na Conservatory of Seoul (South Korea) leading a young artists’ concerto concert at Alice Tully Hall. Noted by his colleagues for his rapport with audiences, Mr. LaGruth builds relationships with his listeners through multiple outreach programs and his popular pre-concert discussions, Musically Speaking. Whether educating and entertaining students in a Music for Young People concert or chatting informally with audience members, Mr. LaGruth finds innovative ways to bridge the gap between new audiences and classical music. An Honors graduate of Ithaca College, Mr. LaGruth earned a master’s degree in orchestral conducting and a bachelor’s degree in composition. He also attended the world-renowned Pierre Monteux School for Conductors, where he was a conducting fellow under the tutelage of Charles Bruck and Michael Jinbo. Mr. LaGruth has enjoyed a close association with the Pierre Monteux School and has served on the staff of that institution. He serves as an adjunct faculty member of both Georgian Court University and Ocean County College. Mr. LaGruth is a member of the Board of Directors of the Conductors Guild, a national service organization for conductors
Sarita Marie Melkon, Flute