About Us

About our Artistic Direction

Ferdinand Liva – Mezza and Avanzata orchestras

about page - Dino Liva A violinist and conductor, Dino comes from a musically prominent family in northeastern Pennsylvania. He began studying the violin at age seven with his father, a noted conductor and teacher, and continued his education at the Peabody Conservatory with Berl Senofsky. He then studied at Temple University with Luis Biava, where he graduated with a Master’s degree, as well as a Professional Studies Certificate.

In 1991, Dino became one of the founding members of the DaPonte String Quartet and still works and performs in Maine and elsewhere with the quartet. In addition to conducting the Seacoast Youth and Community Orchestras, he has conducted the Portland Youth Symphony Orchestra and University Orchestra, and he currently teaches a private studio of students and conducts the Portland Youth Junior Orchestra. Dino also teaches violin as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Southern Maine.

Kaity Newell – Prima orchestra

about page - Kaity NewellA native of Nottingham, England, Kaity received an excellent music education and orchestral experience through the public school system, which sparked a lifelong love of learning music. She earned a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Wales, Swansea, while continuing her interest in music both classical and the traditional songs and dance music of the British Isles.

Kaity has been teaching in the midcoast Maine area for 3 decades. She and her husband Carter, a marine biologist, are founding teachers of the Maine Fiddle Camp (1994) and perform with 3 generations of family members as the Newell Family band. She teaches violin/fiddle at her home, at Damariscotta Montessori School, and at Great Salt Bay Community School where she founded the strings program in 2005. She is classroom music teacher at the Center for Teaching and Learning in Edgecomb and is on the fiddle faculty at New England Suzuki Institute.

Kaity is committed to the work of public school music education, and to bringing orchestra to as many people as possible.

About the Seacoast Orchestras

How it began…

The Seacoast Youth Orchestra was founded in 1994 by three musician-educators in the Damariscotta area, Barbara Burt, Lucy Lee, and Kaity Newell, who wanted to provide a quality string orchestra program for their own students as well as others in the community.

The success of the program inspired the formation of the Community Orchestra in 1997 to accommodate the advancing abilities of the musicians. The Beginner Orchestra, added in 2006, teaches basic ensemble skills and prepares musicians for the Youth Orchestra. As of 2011, the Community Orchestra has been joined each spring by woodwind, brass and percussion instrumentalists to form a full symphonic orchestra.

Avanzata orchestra, full symphony
Since the orchestra membership is truly intergenerational, and participation in the various orchestras is based on proficiency rather than age, it was decided to rename the three orchestras in 2013 to more accurately reflect the nature of the groups: Prima Orchestra for those who are relatively new on their instrument; Mezza Orchestra for those who have developed some proficiency; and Avanzata Orchestra for those more advanced who look for additional challenge in the music they perform.

… and where we are today

From a handful of beginners, the program has developed in to a thriving membership, currently around 40+ musicians, who range in age from seven to over eighty. The orchestras rehearse weekly throughout the school year and offer two concerts each year, which are free and open to the public.

The orchestras are most fortunate to have one the finest directors in professional violinist Ferdinand Liva of the DaPonte String Quartet. It is a rare opportunity for community members and local young people to learn under the baton of such a knowledgeable conductor. He has been directing the Seacoast Orchestra for the last sixteen years. For several years, Kaity Newell has conducted the Beginner Orchestra.

December concert, Prima Orchestra
It is this incomparable direction, as well as the intergenerational model of placing younger players side-by-side with mature instrumentalists, that has made the orchestras so vibrant and successful.


All three ensembles are funded by dues, donations, an anonymous grant and a silent auction presented at Skidompha Library each spring.

The Seacoast Youth and Community Orchestra is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law, and are gratefully accepted at any time! Please mail to SYCO at 10 Hodgdon Street, Damariscotta, ME 04543.