Billy Petito was introduced to classical music at an early age, and started piano lessons at age 6. Drawn to more contemporary styles of music such as rock, funk, R&B, jazz, and the blues, Petito began to study the guitar at age 10. Initially teaching himself, at the age of 13 he began his studies with Chad Leader, a guitarist with the US Army Premier Band, Pershing’s Own Downrange. His studies with Sgt. Leader exposed him to a wide variety of music and helped to prepare him for a career as a performing studio guitarist. He continued to study piano and learned several other instruments including string bass, banjo, bass guitar, mandolin, and ukulele. In the fall of 2013, Petito began his studies at the Eastman School of Music, where he earned a double major in Jazz Guitar and Music Education with a minor in Audio Music Engineering, and studied jazz and classical guitar with Bob Sneider and Nick Golusus.
Petito began his career as a performing musician while living in the Washington, DC suburbs in high school. He played in a multitude of ensembles in school and in local music programs after school, in addition to gigging with various ad-hock bands started by his peers in the DC area. At the age of 17, the youngest age allowed to audition, Petito progressed to the final round of a US Army premier band audition before deciding to continue his formal education at Eastman. While in college, Petito has performed in many ensembles, most notably in Dave Rivello’s New Jazz Ensemble, Bill Dobbins’ Eastman Jazz Ensemble, the Eastman Chamber Jazz Ensemble, the Eastman Studio Orchestra, and was recently featured in a 14-piece guitar ensemble assembled by classical guitar professor Nick Golussus. Outside of school, he plays regularly with several working bands including “The Swooners,” the Eastman student-run experimental jazz big band “Colossus,” local punk rock band “Fish God,” Neo-soul/Hip-Hop project “Redbeard Samurai,” local swing band the “Lance Hoffman Orchestra,” and has played guitar and bass guitar for several theater companies, most notably the New Jersey-based theater company Infused Quirk Productions and the touring off-broadway production of “Burlesque to Broadway.” He also serves as guitarist, arranger, and bandleader for Rochester-based Funk/Rock band Main Street Arcade,” as an accompanist for a variety of instrumentalists and singers in a variety of styles, and as a solo pianist and guitarist for private and public events.
In addition to performing and continuing his studies at Eastman, Petito currently works as a teacher, a composer, arranger, and producer. Since the Fall of 2014, Petito has taught private guitar lessons and public masterclasses at the Eastman Community Music School. In addition, in the Fall of 2016, Petito was hired by the Rochester Contemporary School of Music to teach contemporary guitar, coach original rock ensembles, and offer public music clinics. Previously, for several years, he taught private guitar, bass, and music theory lessons. In the Summer of 2015 and 2016, Petito served as a member of the faculty at Miclen Laipang’s Southeast Asia Music Festival, located in the southern Philippines, where he taught guitar and music theory and, in 2016, returned to also serve as the composer in residence.
Through his work as a composer and an arranger, he has created and voiced works for a variety of ensembles including wedding bands, string quartets, mixed choirs, solo voice with piano accompaniment, chamber and symphonic orchestras, jazz ensembles (small and large), woodwind choirs, and more. Notable commissioners include the University of Rochester Yellowjackets, Miclen Laipang, Blue Valley Northwest High School Chamber Singers, the Elden String Quartet, and the New England Symphonic Ensemble.
More recently, he has begun to score and produce music for commercials, film, and animation, skills developed through an ongoing internship with the LA-based post-production studio Mad Cow Music and Sound and his work with award-winning composer and producer Bruce Chianese. Petito regularly collaborates with filmmakers, animators and other composers in order to produce music for film and commercials. He has collaborated and recorded guitar tracks for a multitude of brand-name companies such as Toyota, Microsoft, Lincoln Continental, RSA, M&M Shanghai, and Amazon. Several of the short films that Billy has scored have received recognition at numerous film festivals, most notably two films produced by Rochester Institute of Technology students. These films, Hands of Flame, and Tamaraw, each won the faculty award at the RIT honors show in 2014 and 2015, respectively, and continue to win awards at various film festivals around the country.