Degrees and Certifications:
MM, Choral Conducting - Temple University; BM, Music Education - Ithaca College; Fellow of the American Guild of Organists; Choir Master Certificate, American Guild of Organists; NYSSMA Voice Adjudicator
Mr. Jon Riss
Award winning conductor and organist Jon Riss is Director of Choral Activities at Hastings High School and Farragut Middle School, where he oversees a program consisting of six choirs as well as teaching general music to the 5th and 8th grades.
Mr. Riss received the 2013 American Guild of Organists Choir Master Prize for the highest overall score nationwide on the Guild's day-long written and practical exam in choral conducting, and was awarded 2nd Prize in the 2009 American Choral Directors Association National Student Conducting Competition, Undergraduate Division. In 2016, he was named a Fellow of the American Guild of Organists in 2016 - the Guild's most distinguished level of professional certification - after passing a two-day series of written and playing tests in 16th-century counterpoint, 18th-century fugue, research, orchestration, composition, sight-reading, vocal score reduction, open score reading for movable C clefs, sight-transposition, improvisation, and highly advanced organ repertoire. Under Mr. Riss’ baton, the Hastings High School choral program received both Choral Sweepstakes (outstanding overall choral program) and Outstanding Choral Ensemble at the 2016 WorldStrides OnStage Philadelphia Festival. He has toured the United States and Europe as a guest accompanist for choral festivals, including the inaugural NAfME All-Eastern Honors Treble Voice Chorus (2013), the 2013 OAKE National Youth Choir, the 2012 ACDA Western Division Junior High Girl's Honor Choir, the 2010 Rhapsody! Children's Music Festival (Vienna, Salzburg, and Prague), and most recently, the 2018 NYSSMA Conference All-State Mixed Chorus, all under the baton of Dr. Janet Galván. He has also been a frequent participant in Ithaca College's all-Bach harpsichord recitals in collaboration with former teacher Jean Radice.
He has participated in masterclasses in conducting with Anton Armstrong, Simon Carrington, and Ann Howard Jones; organ improvisation with Justin Bischof and Gerre Hancock; and harpsichord with Susan Toman and Peter Watchorn. He has also been an accompanist for masterclasses with a great number of luminaries in the music field including soprano Phyllis Curtin, mezzo-soprano Theodora Hanslowe, composer Richard Hundley, composer Karel Husa, collaborative pianist Gilbert Kalish, jazz vocal artist Darmon Meader, saxophonist Eugene Rousseau, tenor Paul Sperry, baritone William Stone, and soprano Sharon Sweet.
Mr. Riss earned a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from Temple University, where he was the 2012 recipient of the Elaine Brown Tribute Award, awarded to a graduating conducting student "who most reflects the musicianship, dedication to excellence, and humanitarianism that has distinguished the career of Dr. Elaine Brown." He earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from Ithaca College in 2009. He was a member of the 2008 ACDA Eastern Division Collegiate Honor Choir, an ensemble comprised of 32 vocalists selected from throughout the Northeast. Mr. Riss' principal conducting teachers have been Justin Bischof, Paul Rardin, and Janet Galván. Additional studies in conducting have been with the late Luis Biava, Jeffrey Cornelius, Rollo Dilworth, Lawrence Doebler, Paul S. Jones, and Stephen Peterson; improvisation with Justin Bischof, organ and harpsichord with Justin Bischof, Jean Radice, the late Jonathan Biggers, and Timothy Olsen; and voice with Brad Hougham and Jennifer Kay. Initial training in organ took place with Carol Weitner and Julie Carney; initial training in piano was with Carol Weitner, Julie Carney, and the late Jim Guldenstern.
Mr. Riss is also the Director of Music & Organist at Irvington Presbyterian Church, an All-State Voice and Vocal Jazz Adjudicator for NYSSMA Solo and Ensemble Festivals, Accompanist for the Riverside Choral Society in Manhattan, and Artist-in-Residence at Cultural Arts Playhouse in Syosset. His various other interests include musical theatre, exploring the Northeast Corridor on road trips, culinary exploration, and the New York Giants.