When Dr. Dino F. Ciaburri’s baton came down to begin the Ladies of Broadway concert one August evening in 2011, it was not only the beginning of his 26th year as Founder/Director of the Nutmeg Symphonic Pops Orchestra, but it was also 62 years since he started performing on the West Haven Green.At the request of First Selectman Elmer Scranton and the City Council, on Dec. 8, 1950 Thompson school student Dino Ciaburri conducted his first chorus and orchestra concert, an occasion that would inaugurate the placing of the Christmas creche on the Green. On that terribly snowy night, more than 300 iundred people stood in the freezing cold to take part in the event, including Andy D’Amato, West Haven’s Supervisor of Music who played his violin –in the freezing cold weather. Dino still recalls the will of the evening, including how things became omplicated for some audience members when bus service was stopped at 7 p.m. due to the inclement weather.  Concerts by Ciaburri continued throughout his West Haven High School years and, thereafter, while a college student at Southern Connecticut State University, Wesleylan, Hunter College, Yale, and Nova Southeastern University, where he completed his bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees. His major thrust academically was in the field of English, literature and administration.He started as a West Haven High School English teacher and considers himself an educator all other titles being secondary. A pianist, Ciaburri was always teaching piano/organ or playing somewhere as a church organist, in a group or in solo, accompanying singers or choruses. This was a source of revenue during his school years. In the last eight years of his 52 years in education, he has taught music classes at GatewayCommunity College and also coordinates Gateway’s Music Department.
In discussing his varied career, Ciaburri said he feels his musical training, though mostly through private instruction, is far beyond what most people had in colleges. With great pride, he talks about his teachers: First was with concert pianist, Howard Coleman, a native of West Haven; and then, for 15 years, Maestro Francesco Riggio and his wife, West Haven native Hilda Whitworth Riggio. He believes they were not only the very best in music, but a marvelous duo. Dino points out that Riggio kept opera alive in Connecticut by producing 35 years of operatic performances at the Shubert Theater with top singers from throughout the world. Young Dino from age 5 attended these performances with an eye always on the conductor. That is why, when Riggio invited Dino to guest conduct with him at a Puccini Memorial concert in 1958, Ciaburri was ecstatic!  At one point in the concert, Riggio stepped down from the podium and handed his baton to Dino, who then took over the job of leading the New Haven Symphony, soloists, and a bevy of singers in the operatic chorus of the Connecticut Experimental Theater. Because of his strong musical experiences, it is not a surprise that he guided his musical career along-side his career as an educator and continued, since the age of 11, to perform, create and lead musical productions in Connecticut.The Nutmeg Symphonic Pops is only the most current of his endeavors. It has an interesting history which began 25 years ago.  In the early 80s, Ciaburri was conducting a group called Spirit Alive in religious performances at churches throughout Connecticut when he was asked to be part of a group spearheading building of the West Haven Bandstand  At the time, he owned and operated a school called Mildin Technical Institute so he volunteered the expertise of his architectural drafting teacher and students, and the plans for the West Haven Bandstand were created. From there, of course, there would be funds needed to build it, so the committee started raising money. One of the fundraising events was a concert Dino Ciaburri  created using the Spirit Alive chorus and area musicians. It was on a portable bandstand on the Green, and the Green was filled with an appreciative audience from one end to the other, and even across the streets. Quite a bit of money was raised that evening, but not enough. A few months later, Ciaburri conducted a live, all-day, telethon (also on the Green) with musicians, singers, dancers, comedians, sports celebrities, radio and TV personalities and many area business people. The result was the John C. Ireland Bandstand.A short time after the telethon, the Ciaburris were playing pinochle with John and Gloria (Dodie) Ireland. Dodie, who was president of the West Haven Council of Arts, suddenly jumped up, clapped her hands together, and said let us have a West Haven orchestra. The following week, 7 musicians showed up for the first rehearsal at Noble School. The first concert was performed at the Little Theater, University of New Haven, on March 22, 1986. Since that date, the orchestra has not skipped a beat in presenting concerts at least 3 times a year.  The concerts have always been free to the public or have been presented as fundraisers for worthy causes such as St. Raphaels Pediatric Dept., Victims of 9-11 and Katrina, area churches and Haitis earth – quake relief.Dr. Ciaburri is founder, conductor, and artistic director of Nutmeg Symphonic Pops Orchestra. He is coordinator of the Music Department at Gateway Community College and teaches classes in vocal and choral music. Students perform with the Symphony in each concert that coincides with their semester, A well-known and talented pianist/organist. Dr. Ciaburri has performed throughout Connecticut and brought many musical events to the public The orchestra has been renamed Nutmeg Symphonic Pops Orchestra and formed a non-profit 501 C(3) corporation known as Four Havens Music Society, Inc. which runs the orchestra that  is comprised of volunteer musicians and singers. It has also partnered with Gateway Community College as their Orchestra In Residence. This relationship gives the Symphony a place to rehearse and perform and affords students of the college, especially Dr. Ciaburris’  chorus and vocal students, a venue for performances. Recently, two Gateway music students were given full scholarships to further their musical  studies at other colleges (Boston University and West Cconn) largely based on their association with the orchestra This biography appeared in the West Haven Voice (August 11th, 2011).


Linnea Mesham



Joseph Stango, Tenor
A regular soloist with NSPO and a winner of the Pavarotti competition. His amazing voice always brings standing ovations.


Betty Jones, Soprano
Acclaimed Metropolitan Opera House diva; Performed twice with NSPO.


Mia Scarpa, Mezzo/Crossover
Performed for NSPO in tribute to Judy Garland; member of Equity with many Broadway shows to her credit.


David Sylvia, Lyric Tenor
Grew up with NSPO and now a scholarship student at WestConn; Classical & Broadway repertoire; a rising star!


Jodi Keogan, Lyric Spinto
Soprano has sung with NSPO many times, enthralling the audiences each time.


Wendy Gerbier, Mezzo Soprano
Connecticut’s Ambassador of the Star Spangled Banner; a dramatic operatic voice of pure magic.


Raphael Ryger, Guest Violinist
Performed in Concert for Haiti.


Barbie Harger, Soprano/Crossover
Gateway professor with years of thrilling audiences. She is a NSPO regular and sings a wide range of music from opera to Broadway, and beyond.


The Cecchetti Ballet Theatre
Betty Szeibert, Artistic Director


The Gateway Chorale
The Gateway Chorale with Joseph Stango at the Concert for Haiti. The Chorale is an integral part of NSPO.


Many other talented performers have appeared with NSPO, including Lizabeth Miller, Kristen Smith, Michael DeVito, Francesca Riggio Scarpa, Marie Celso, and opera star Marshall Cooper. Mr. Raymond Andrewsen, of WQUN, Quinnipiac College, is routinely host/narrator of the concerts, and that station announces all upcoming events.

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