Our Director

Nanette O'Neal

Nanette O'Neal

Author, musician, and aviation art enthusiast, Nanette O’Neal, graduated from Mason Gross School of the Arts with a degree in Music Education.

She has a wide variety of teaching, conducting, and performing experiences both in the public schools, the community, and in the private sector, spanning the past twenty years and counting.

She was offered the directorship of the Rutgers University Alumni Wind Symphony as an undergraduate and held the position solely for eight years. Since then, she has served the group as assistant conductor for fourteen years before accepting the position as director once again.

Her passion for the arts is not limited to music. Nanette currently serves as the executive secretary for the American Society of Aviation Artists, and she is the author of a middle-grade fantasy book series A Doorway Back to Forever. She is a wife and mother, loves to hike, and spends long hours walking her dogs.

Our Assistant Conductor

James Cotignola

James Cotignola

James Cotignola, a graduate of RU's Mason Gross School of the Arts, has been involved in music since he began playing the trumpet in the first grade. Both sides of his family are highly musical, with members performing up and down the Jersey Shore and in New York City—creating background music for cartoons, doing studio musician work, and scoring movies, as well as being music educators.

With this foundation and background, it was no small surprise that music would be a part of James' life; it became his passion. At Mason Gross, James studied trumpet with the reknowned brass pedagogue Professor William B. Fielder. James became inspired by "Prof" not only on the trumpet, but as an educator. He received his Bachelor of Music degree with an Education Concentration in 1999.

After graduation, James began his teaching career, and has been teaching in the New Jersey public school systems for the past eighteen years. Beyond being an educator, James is an avid performer in the tri-state area and performs in many different styles of music, including salsa bands, big bands, pit orchestras for musical theatre, orchestras, wind ensembles, and concert bands. He is currently second trumpet in the Monmouth Symphony Orchestra. He has also conducted the All-Shore Jazz Band "B" band, the All-Shore Intermediate Band, and has guest conducted the New Horizons Community Band in Woodbridge, NJ.

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