Summer Band & Jazz Faculty Biographies

Begian, Jamie

Buchta, James

Goble, Dr. Dan

Isaacs, Dr. Kevin

Fernando-Jimenez, Dr. Luis

Morrison, Chris

Riley, Paul

Ruffels, David

Smith, David

Tiskowitz, Michael

Winters, Gregg



Jamie Begian began his career in education at Western Connecticut State University in 1991. Initially hired as a Jazz Guitar instructor, Jamie quickly became, and remains to this day, an integral part of that program's re-emergence. Over his thirteen years at WestComnn Jamie has taught courses in Jazz Arranging, Jazz Theory, Jazz Improvisation, and Jazz History in addition to directing big bands, small groups and guitar ensembles.

Upon completion of his Masters Degree, Jamie continued his study of composition by joining the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop in 1993. The workshop, directed by Jim McNeely and Manny Albam, provided Jamie the opportunity to explore long-form composition and advanced orchestration.  In 1996 Jamie was included in the BMI annual concert for the first time with his piece Trance.  The response to Trance and Jamie's subsequent efforts in the workshop was so positive that it became the impetus for his forming his own big band.

James Buchta is a well-known and very highly regarded area educator. Subsequent to his secondary education at Norwalk High School, he went on to earn his Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Music at Western Connecticut State University, and subsequently earned his Masters degree (M.A) in Education from the University of Bridgeport. While at these fine institutions he had the privilege of studying conducting under Mike Mennone and Dr. Daniel D'addio, and percussion with Dave Smith and The Jim Royle Drum Studio.

His primary instrument (trumpet) takes him all around the Tri-State area for performances in numerous stylistically diverse performing organizations.

In addition to his conducting and performing responsibilities, Mr. Buchta maintains an extensive private trumpet studio. Members of this studio have had the opportunity to perform for The Connecticut Special Olympics, Bridgeport Bluefish, The Pequot Library, and The Town of Fairfield, among many others.

As an educator, Mr. Buchta has an extensive list of credits; He has taught trumpet at Danbury High School, Newtown High School, and Somers High School in New York and he is the founder of the Greater Danbury Youth Music Association, which is currently facilitating youth music programs at Western Connecticut State University. He is also the founder of the summer band program in Fairfield, CT. James Buchta is presently the band director at Fairfield Woods Middle School in Fairfield, CT.

Dr. Dan Goble has brought his eclectic approach to saxophone, education and life from his home town of Casper, Wyoming, to such diverse places as Alaska, Los Angeles, Maine, New York City, Geneva and Tokyo. His versatility as a performer and educator in many genres is evident in the depth of his musical experiences in contemporary classical music, jazz, rock and musical theater. He is at ease performing the complex music of Charles Wuorinen, playing standards in a jazz club, discussing the Beatles with his students, or fly fishing for king salmon in Alaska.

He was the first prize winner at the 1993 Louise D. McMahon International Competition in Lawton, Oklahoma, and has won or placed in numerous other competitions, including the Ima Hogg International Young Artist Competition, the Concert Artist Guild International Competition, the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition, and the annual Down Beat Magazine Student Recording Awards. Goble is in demand as an orchestral saxophonist throughout the New York City area, including the New York premier of Thomas Adés’s opera Powder Her Face and a concert version of John Adams’s Nixon in China, both with the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra. Dr. Goble is currently in his debut season as the baritone saxophonist with the Harvey Pittel Saxophone Quartet,

Dr. Goble is currently on the faculty of Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Connecticut, where he teaches saxophone and is the director of jazz studies. His energetic and empowering style of teaching has him in demand as a guest clinician throughout the Northeast, including his recent direction of the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) All State Jazz Ensemble and numerous regional jazz ensembles in Connecticut.

Dr. Goble received his Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music degrees from the University of Texas at Austin. His teachers include Harvey Pittel and Roger Greenberg (Saxophone), and Eugene Corporon (Conducting).

Check Out Dan's New Release On CRI (CRI 876) Freeway

Dr. Kevin Isaacs, in his tenth year at Western Connecticut State University, is Professor of Music serving as Director of Choral Studies, Faculty Composer and Coordinator of Graduate Studies. For the 1995-96 school year, Professor Isaacs was a Mellon Foundation Faculty Fellow at the School of Music and Institute of Sacred Music of Yale University. Prior to his work in the Northeast, Isaacs was Visiting Professor of Composition at the University of Arizona where he co-founded the Young Composers Festival and Competition.

He received his Bachelor's and Masters degrees in Theory and Composition from Texas Christian University, studying with Joseph Cohen and Lew Gillis, and a Doctorate in Composition from The University of Arizona under the tutelage of the celebrated composer, Robert Muczynski. His musical sphere includes writing commissions, adjudicating, and conducting festival and honor choirs including the 1999 Connecticut All-State Choir. His compositions are commissioned and performed by amateur and professional ensembles across the nation including The Santa Fe Desert Chorale, and the Bel Canto Choral Artists. Isaacs' "Agnus Dei" was a required work for the 1992 National Collegiate Choral Competition, his "Surely, He Hath Borne Our Griefs" was a commission for the 1986 Missouri All-State Choir, and his "Gloria" was a commission for the 1988 College Music Society National Meeting. His works are published by Mark Foster Music and PerCel Music.

Dr. Luis Fernando Jimenez joined the music faculty at Western in the fall of 1997 after having served as Assistant Professor of Music at Louisiana Tech University. Dr. Jimenez maintains an active schedule as a guest conductor and clinician for high school marching, concert bands and orchestras throughout New England. He has served as conductor of the Connecticut Music Educators Association Southern region concert band, the director of the Ark-La-Tex Conductors conference, and the Louisiana Tech Concert Association. He has served as a guest conductor for numerous professional symphony orchestras and wind ensembles in the United States, Central and South America. As a trombonist, his experiences include performing with the Costa Rica National Symphony, the Orquesta Sinfonica de las Americas, the American Wind Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Waco Symphony, Shreveport Symphony, Ridgefield Symphony, and New Haven Symphony. He has studied trombone with Arnold Jacobs (Chicago Symphony), Robert Hamrick (Pittsburgh Symphony), Matty Shiner (Duquesne University), Chris Matten (US Air Force Band). He holds degrees from Baylor University, Duquesne University, and the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University where he served as a teaching assistant in the conducting department of the Peabody Conservatory under the tutelage of Maestro Fredrik Prausnitz.

Chris Morrison, Jazz Guitarist, holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies from Western Connecticut State University and is currently a candidate at SUNY Purchase for Master of Music in Jazz Performance. Chris is an adjunct instructor at Western Connecticut State University and, the University of Bridgeport and I son the faculty of the National Guitar Summer Workshop. He has studied with Sal Salvador, Hal Galper, Don Neary and Charlie Banacos. Chris has performed professionally with Richie Cole, Joe Beck, John Patitucci, Adam Nussbaum, Harvie Swartz, Lew Soloff, Ralph Lalama, Adam Nussbaum, Yoron Isreal, John Stowel and Lyn Christie. He is an artist representative for "F" guitars. Chris currently leads his own trio as well as being an in demand side man.

Paul Riley

David Ruffels is a graduate of William Patterson University and is currently a candidate at SUNY Purchase for a Master of Music in Jazz Performance. Dave has studied with Robert Black, Linda McKnight, Rufus Reid, Jeff Fuller, Dave Santoro, Todd Coolman, Kermit Driscoll, John Goldsby, Steve LaSpina, and Ron McClure. Dave has performed with Vic Juris, Ralph LaLama, Adam Nussbaum and Joshua Redman. Dave currently resides in Manhattan and practices, performs, and teaches throughout the tri-state area.

David Smith has been on the faculty at Western Connecticut State University since 1970. He taught instrumental music in Elmira, NY from 1967-69 and was a graduate assistant at East Carolina University in the 1969-70 school year. He holds degrees from Mansfield State College (B.S. Music Education) and East Carolina University (M.M. Percussion Performance). Post graduate work was done at New York University and the Hartt School of Music. In 1992 he was placed on the music department's alumni honor roll at Mansfield University. In 1995 he was selected as the Higher Education Music Educator of the year in Connecticut.

Mr. Smith has studied percussion with John Beck (Eastman School of Music), Brad Spinney (New York University), Harold Jones (East Carolina University) and Fred Hinger (Metropolitan Opera Orchestra). He holds the position of Principal Percussionist with the New Haven Symphony Orchestra. In addition to the NHSO, Mr. Smith has performed with several other orchestras including: Ives Symphony Orchestra as Timpanist and Principal Percussion, the Bridgeport Symphony as Timpanist and the Ridgefield Orchestra as Timpanist. Mr. Smith has given many solo percussion recitals. These performances have included performances in recital series at Western Connecticut State University, Hartt School of Music, Manchester (CT) Church Community Concert Series, Hillsdale (NY) Art Gallery, and Five Mile River Concert Series ( Norwalk , CT). In 1989 he performed World Premieres of two compositions by Milton Babbitt; Beaten Paths for Solo Marimba and Homily for solo snare drum at the International Percussive Arts Society Conference in Nashville, TN.

He has recorded on CRI and Desto Records with the New England Contemporary Ensemble and recorded David Amram's "Native American Portraits" for National Public Radio. He has performed with the Paul Whiteman Band throughout the United States and Italy.

Michael Tiskowitz is currently a band director for the Arlington
Central School District near Poughkeepsie, NY. He teaches at LaGrange Middle School where he conducts the 8th Grade Band, Jazz Band, and the Flute Ensemble. Mr. Tiskowitz is also the director of the Arlington Summer Band Program, which serves over 350 4th-9th grade students in the Arlington/Poughkeepsie area. In the spring of 2006, he served as Conductor of the Putnam (NY) County All-County Band.

Mr. Tiskowitz began his music musical studies earning a Bachelor of Music in Education from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam and his Masters of Science in Music Education from Western Connecticut State University where he served as graduate assistant. He studied conducting is Timothy Topolewski and Fernando Jimenez, and theory/composition with Robert Washburn.

Mr. Tiskowitz has also been on the staffs of New England Music Camp,
Crane Youth Music, and the Usdan Center for the Creative & Performing Arts summer camps. He previously taught 6th grade band for the Beacon (NY) City Schools where is also co-founded their summer program.

Gregg Winters has been teaching instrumental and general music at Bedford Middle School in Westport, Connecticut since 1992. During his tenure at Bedford, Mr. Winters’ jazz ensemble was selected to perform at the 2000 Connecticut Music Educators Association conference in Hartford, Connecticut. His students consistently receive accolades and awards in state and regional music festivals.

Mr. Winters received both his Bachelor of Science and Masters degrees in Music Education from Western Connecticut State University. While completing his graduate studies, Gregg co-founded the Greater Danbury Youth Music Association’s (GDYMA) middle school jazz ensemble program, which he has directed since 1993. In addition to this group, Mr. Winters has also conducted the middle school concert band and high school jazz ensemble for GDYMA, the latter of which recently recorded a compact disc of Duke Ellington arrangements for Lincoln Center’s Essentially Ellington festival.

Mr. Winters has also been instrumental in writing curriculum for the band and general music programs in Westport. Due to his efforts, Bedford now provides a thirteen-station student MIDI lab for general music students. He has worked with students and colleagues on "across-continental" composition projects incorporating digital audio, digital video, and the Internet. In addition to presenting workshops on music technology, Gregg also continues to serve as the Western Region Middle School Jazz Ensemble co-chair, which he has done since 1996. For further information regarding the Bedford music program and music technology, please visit Gregg’s web site:

WCSU Weather Information

Current Conditions in Danbury

Current Conditions

55.1° F
Feels like N/A°

Wind: 7MPH from the S
Humidity: N/A%
Pressure: 30 in.
Dew Point: N/A° F

Emergency / Weather Alert Information

The Emergency / Weather Alert will be posted on the WCSU home page any time an emergency or bad weather causes a delay, cancellation or early closing of the university.

Weather Alert Example

 Visit the Emergency / Weather Alert page

Greater Danbury 5-Day Forecast

Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Slight chance for a morning shower, partly sunny and pleasant.
Partly sunny and pleasant.
Mostly cloudy, chance for some showers.
Chance for morning rain then some afternoon sunshine.
Mostly sunny and mild.
36° / 59° 34° / 56° 36° / 43° 39° / 54° 33° / 54°