Our Faculty

Lou Kosma, Artistic Director; Conductor, The Junior Symphony


Artistic Director Louis A. Kosma has been conducting with the Youth Orchestras of Essex County since 1993. A graduate of Temple University, Mr. Kosma is most well-known as a double-bassist who performed with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra from 1978-2014. He has also performed with the New York Philharmonic, the Mostly Mozart Festival, Tanglewood Music Festival, Chautauqua Symphony, and has served as  principal bassist or acting principal bassist with the American Ballet Theater orchestra, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic. 

As a conductor and educator, Mr. Kosma has taught music at Holy Family Academy (Bayonne) and in Belleville Public Schools, and is formerly the Artistic Director of Stokes Forest Music Camp (Montclair State University). He has conducted the NJSMA and NJMEA regional and all-state orchestras on several occasions. He has served on the faculties of Columbia University, SUNY Purchase, Kean University, Temple University, and the Jenkintown Music School. He is currently the Orchestra Director at New Jersey City University, and is the Musical Director and Principal Conductor of Vermont Philharmonic. Mr. Kosma is the 2014 recipient of the NJMEA’s Distinguished Leadership and Service Award.


Lou Kosma, Artistic Director

Lou Kosma, Artistic Director

Karen Conrad, Conductor, Essex County Symphony Orchestra


Karen Conrad holds a B. A. in Music Education from Montclair State University and an M.M. in Cello Performance from the New England Conservatory. As a freelance cellist, Mrs. Conrad has performed with the New Jersey State Opera orchestra, and with artists as varied as Luciano Pavarotti, Ravi Shankar, Henry Mancini, The Three Irish Tenors, Michael Feinstein, Blues Traveler, and was principal cellist of the Paper Mill Playhouse theater orchestra for eight years.


As an educator, she has served New Jersey’s music students as a string specialist and conductor for 42 years, most of which she spent as the Orchestra Director at Millburn High School. She has also conducted the Youth Orchestra at the  Montclair State University Preparatory Division, she has served as the chair and the coordinator of the North Jersey Region 1 Orchestra, and has conducted the Region 1 Orchestra. She was a member of the New Jersey Symphony Master Teachers’ Collaborative, and has been named to Who’s Who in Education, American Women, and America.


Karen Conrad, Conductor, Essex County Symphony Orchestra

Karen Conrad, Conductor, Essex County Symphony Orchestra

Cady Finlayson, Conductor, The Overture Ensemble


Violinist/fiddler Cady Finlayson holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from the Mannes College of Music in New York City. She also studied at the University of Wyoming as a recipient of the Walter Scharf Memorial Music Scholarship, and at the University of Limerick in Ireland, where she studied traditional Irish fiddle. Ms. Finlayson has performed at such distinguished venues as Carnegie Hall, Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, the Jacob Javits Center, the Blackstone Valley Celtic Festival, the McPherson Scottish Festival, and the Brooklyn Museum of Art, to name just a few. 

Her 20 years of teaching experience includes teaching positions at the Third Street Music School in New York City, New York City public schools, and 15 years as a strings instructor at the United Nations International School, where she is currently a member of the faculty. She holds certifications in The Suzuki Method, the Mark O’Connor Method, and from the Carnegie Hall Music Educators Workshop. 


Cady Finlayson, Conductor, The Overture Ensemble

Cady Finlayson, Conductor, The Overture Ensemble

Rick Faulkner, Conductor, The Always Be Creative! Ensemble


Rick Faulkner has an undergraduate degree in music education and trombone performance from Indiana University and a master's degree in jazz performance from Manhattan School of Music. His musical experience ranges from traditional jazz and bebop to salsa, Latin jazz, Haitian compas, Brazilian choro, klezmer, bluegrass, and more. As a freelancer, he has performed with Max Roach, David Murray, Latin legends Orlando Marin, Pucho and his Latin Soul Brothers, and Grammy Award-nominee Juan Carlos Formell, but he is most well-known for his years with Jamaican ska superstars The Toasters, and their spin-off group, The New York Ska-Jazz Ensemble. His arrangements have been performed by John Scofield, and Michael Brecker, and have been featured in numerous recordings and films. 

As an educator, Mr. Faulkner has taught jazz studies and brass studies at Hunter College (CUNY), music history at Mercy College, and he has directed various ensembles at Stokes Forest Music Camp (MSU). He has been teaching instrumental music in New York City public schools since 2005, and he is currently the band director and director of instrumental music at New York City’s Talented and Gifted School for Young Scholars.

Rick Faulkner, Conductor, The ABC! Ensemble

Rick Faulkner, Conductor, The ABC! Ensemble

YOEC Teaching Artists

Rebecca Harris-Lee, violin


Paul Woodiel, violin


Robin Zeh, violin


Effie Yuen, viola


Lanny Paykin, cello


Zack Merkovsky, bass


David Rimelis, jazz strings


Joseph D'Auguste, woodwinds


Jessica Valiente, woodwinds


Rick Faulkner, brass


Matt Coyle, brass


Pete Abazia, percussion, rhythm section