Maestro Leif Bjaland
Music Director & Conductor
Leif Bjaland served as the Artistic Director/Conductor of the Sarasota Orchestra from 1997 to 2012, during which time the orchestra experienced unprecedented artistic growth. As Artistic Advisor to The Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra for the last three seasons, he conducted concerts, led the orchestra on its first statewide tour and administered the search for a new music director.
A popular and active guest conductor, Mr. Bjaland made his debut at the Ravinia Festival conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a program entitled "Bernstein on Broadway" also involving soloists, chorus and dancers, and his first CSO Symphony Hall performance sharing the stage with Leonard Bernstein. He has appeared with the San Francisco Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra, Florida Philharmonic, Louisiana Philharmonic and the symphony orchestras of Fort Worth, Nashville, Detroit, Rochester, Utah, Madison, San Jose, Rhode Island, Virginia, Harrisburg, Colorado, Long Beach, and New World Symphony. As Music Director of the Waterbury Symphony Orchestra, Bjaland has received enormous enthusiasm and critical praise for his performances and imaginative programming. This included the 2019 premiere of a multi-media program called “The American Sound”, which incorporated rare historic footage of New York City at the turn of the century, and also film and spoken commentary of Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, and Aaron Copland. Bjaland is an enthusiastic proponent of music education, having taught for several summers in Venezuela as part of the country’s El Sistema program.
He received his Master’s degree in conducting from The University of Michigan, where he studied with Gustav Meier, and was a student of Leonard Bernstein and Michael Tilson Thomas at the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute.
Alyce Cognetta Bertz
Alyce Cognetta Bertz is the Concertmaster of the Waterbury Symphony Orchestra. She studied violin with Syoko Aki of the Yale School of Music and with Charles Tregor of the Hartt School of Music.
Ms. Bertz has studied chamber music with the Cleveland Quartet, the Julliard Quartet and Joseph Gingold. As a high school student she performed in Vienna, Austria at the world premier of Leonard Bernstein’s “Mass”. She has performed concerts at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, La Philarmonica de las Americas (Mexico), The Blossom Music Festival (Ohio), and the Waterloo Music Festival with members of the New York Philharmonic. Ms. Bertz has been violin soloist on WQXR in New York. She has appeared as a soloist with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Hartt Symphony Orchestra and has been a featured soloist with the Waterbury Symphony Orchestra on numerous occasions.
As a member of the Cognetta Trio, Ms. Bertz has appeared around New England at Cape Cod Summer Music Festival in Chatham, the Kosciuszko Foundation in New York City, Wolcott Classic Series, Whaling Church Classical Series in Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard, Woodbury Chamber Music Series, and in solo recitals at Geneva Opera House in New York.
Ms. Bertz performs on an Italian violin made by Postiglione in 1869. She resides in Southbury with her husband, Gary, and teaches privately in her own studio.