OUR MUSIC DIRECTOR
Robert Helmacy became the founding Music Director and Conductor of the Northern Tier Symphony Orchestra in Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania for its opening season in 2010-2011. Mr. Helmacy conducted the South Orange Symphony in South Orange, New Jersey, from 1972-2012. He also was a major conductor of the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, North Carolina, where he conducted for twenty-five years.
During his career with Eastern Music Festival, Mr. Helmacy conducted concerti for many world class players, including John Mack, Robert Bloom, Larry Combs, John Miller, John Marcellis, Eugene Levinson, Tom Stacey, Gustavo Romero, Gary Karr, Barry Green, Ricardo Morales and Guillaume Sutre. He also coached many young and aspiring musicians, including teaching a young Wynton Marsallis baroque ornamentation and the Hummel Eb Trumpet Concerto prior to his grammy-winning recording.
During his tenure with the South Orange Symphony, Mr. Helmacy has introduced programs such as an annual artist competition for soloists, scholarships for string players, and innovative formats for family and chamber concerts.
Earlier in his career, Mr. Helmacy was principal trumpet with the North Jersey Wind Symphony, where he performed the world premiere of the trumpet concerto “Return and Rebuild the Desolate Places” by Alan Hovhaness. He has also performed with the Aspen Festival Orchestra, the Juilliard Theatre Orchestra, the Hammerskold Players, and was principal trumpet with the South Orange Symphony. He has been the recipient of the Fellowship in Music Literature awarded by the Juilliard School, a conducting scholarship from the Aspen Music Festival, the Outstanding Performance Award from Boston University, and the Distinguished Alumni Award from Baldwin-Wallace College.
Mr. Helmacy was the conductor of the Susquehanna Valley Symphony Orchestra in 1969-1970, and director of brass ensembles, in addition to his orchestral conducting duties, at Eastern Music Festival from 1970 to 1994. He has been a faculty member at Susquehanna University (PA), County College of Morris (NJ), Caldwell College (NJ) and Wilkes University (PA).
In 1992, Mr. Helmacy commissioned a trumpet concerto from the American composer Carl Roskott, and conducted its world premiere performance in 1993. It has since been commercially recorded by Albany Records with Dr. Paul Neebe as soloist.
Mr. Helmacy taught in the Caldwell-West Caldwell schools for thirty-seven years, originally in the Band Department as a protege of Keith Brion (“Mr. Sousa”), and eventually became the high school orchestra director and violin teacher. In the 1980’s he served on the Board of the New Jersey All-State Orchestra. He has served as a guest conductor and adjudicator in the New York metropolitan area for more than twenty-five years.
He holds a Master’s Degree in Music from Boston University, a Diploma in Trumpet from the Juilliard School of Music, and a Bachelor of Music Education Degree from Baldwin-Wallace College. He studied trumpet with William Vacchiano, former and long-time principal trumpet of the New York Philharmonic, Mel Broiles and Bernard Adelstein, Charles Hois, Armando Ghittalla, and conducting with Jorge Mester and Walter Susskind, orchestral performance practice with James Chambers and Arthur Weisberg, and music literature with Arnold Fish and Joel Sheveloff. He studied violin with George Poinar, Elizabeth Kleinman and Norma Auth.
Mr. Helmacy and his wife, Colleen, currently reside in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania.