To advance the understanding, appreciation and study of culture via engaging performances, commissions of extraordinary composers, recording and education projects that present stimulating artistic concepts to diverse audiences and define new artistic directions for future generations.


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SDI pursues its mission through two primary channels: musical expression and the education programs associated with its development and presentation.

At the core is our Artistic & Educational Director, guitarist and composer James Emery, through his own projects and particularly with the String Trio of New York (S3NY) for which we have commissioned more than 15 works by some of the most renowned composers of the late 20th Century, all interwoven with innovative educational components.

SDI welcomes the opportunity to realize its mission by connecting with others who are similarly focused and who seek to create and present meaningful performances, compositions, and educational programs.



Sound Directions, Inc. (SDI) is a New York 501(c)(3) not-for-profit cultural organization that strives to uplift and educate in New York State and internationally through its cultural and educational activities.

For more than 30 years our primary focus to accomplishing these goals has been through the musical and educational imperatives of the String Trio of New York (S3NY) and its co-founder, composer/guitarist James Emery, who is also SDI’s co-founder and Artistic & Educational Director.



Through our efforts S3NY has performed in many of the world’s foremost venues and concert series, including Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center and major concert halls, universities and festivals throughout the U.S., Europe.

In 1994 SDI relocated to New York’s Hudson Valley and expanded its cultural focus to include large scale commissioned works, facilitating James Emery’s Transformations with the chamber orchestra Klangforum Wien in Vienna, Double Concerto for Clarinet and Guitar at Skidmore College and Cobalt Blue for the Air Force Band and Orchestra at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.  

In 1988, SDI launched its Composers Commissioning Program. Over the next 25 years, some of the most extraordinary composers in contemporary music were commissioned to create new works which were included in the various repertories of S3NY.  These composers included Wadada Leo Smith, Muhal Richard Abrams, Anthony Davis, Joe Lovano, Dave Douglas, and Julia Wolfe (Pulitzer Prize winner, 2015).

Key to our mission of enlightenment, audience development and paving the way for artists of the future, SDI emphasizes the integration of educational projects by S3NY and Emery into all performance opportunities. This outreach includes residencies, master classes, lecture/demonstrations, concert performances, and student participation. 


James Emery brings a wealth of experience, knowledge and insight to the realm of education. He has an innate ability to connect with students of all ages in a friendly, welcoming and inspiring way. Along with presentations on the nature and history of improvisation, jazz and related historical aspects, Emery has conducted lecture/demonstrations, workshops, clinics, master classes and residency programs in conjunction with concert performances. He is currently on the adjunct faculty at SUNY/Orange in Middletown, NY.


The String Trio of New York  offers a unique approach to education through a hands-on method that directly involves the student in all aspects of the creative process through direct participation with the ensemble and with each of the members through programs designed to enhance the educational approach of the institution while also responding to the specific needs of the students.