NCHS students to croon in regional honors choir
Published 4:38 pm, Thursday, January 12, 2017
NEW CANAAN — Sarah Gleason’s choir class fills their wide classroom with melodious voices each afternoon. They huddle in different vocal groups with binders of music and sing lines over and over until they reach perfection with Gleason’s guidance.
But this year, three choral students of the group are taking their talent and passion for singing beyond the classroom and even beyond the state. Seniors Lauren Carlson and Tessa Piontkowski and junior Finley Vigiliotti have been chosen to travel to Atlantic City, N.J., in April to take part in the All-Eastern Honor Ensemble.
“I’m really proud,” Gleason said. “We don’t know what it’s like for other districts, but we don’t know of a time where we’ve had people in a regional choir like this. I know how hard they’ve worked over the past three years. All three of them are very self-motivated and they’re all very balanced. They have a general good work ethic and it shows when they have a goal and they know what steps they can do to achieve it.”
The ensemble will perform as part of the Eastern Division conference of the National Association for Music Education. The group hosts regional and national conferences where students can apply to audition to be a part of various honor ensembles. The students chosen from New Canaan are three of 28 students representing Connecticut in the 350-person choir.
The singers’ journey to New Jersey began in 2015, when they were accepted to the Western Region Chorus. From there, they were all accepted to the All-State ensemble. Acceptance to these festivals required many hours of preparation and rehearsing festival-assigned pieces.
When the students found out about the All-Eastern Honor Ensemble, they decided to apply, having never heard of it before. Their acceptance to this ensemble was based oon their All-State performance scores, as well as an application that included a resume with their past performance experiences.
“The hardest part was going back and figuring out all the conductors (they’ve worked with) through middle school,” Gleason said. “It was not hard for me to write letters of recommendation. They were pretty easy to write.”
The girlswere excited about the opportunity to further their high school music career after years of performing in local festivals.
“Every year, we’d try to go a little bit farther making it,” Carlson said. “My freshman year, I only made Western Region; then sophomore (and) junior (years) making it to All-State. It’s another leg in my musical journey as I grow and develop through the program and have bigger and better opportunities.”
All three students found out about their acceptance in November. The following month, the school board approved their Atlantic City trip, a trip Vigliotti said is a particular highlight of the experience.
“I’ve never gotten this far in these festivals,” she said. “I’m going out of state for something, and I’ve really never done something this important for something extracurriucular.”
The singers will rehearse the music in Atlantic City from April 5 to 7 andperform in the Adrian Phillips Theater on April 8. They will receive their music next month and will learn the basicsbefore studying it more intensely over the three days of rehearsals.
“The most impressive thing is, in a couple days, you have all these kids coming together who don’t even know each other,” Piontkowski said. “To have these kids come together and perform this music really well in a number of days is unbelievable.”
None of the performers has ever sang in a choir this large, with about 40 students in each vocal section. But they are excited to compare the pros and cons of the experience, as well as meet musicians from 12 other East Coast states.
“The talent we’re going to be around is extraordinary, and I can’t wait to learn from the conductor and fellow musicians,” Carlson said.
In the meantime, the singers are gearing up for this year’s All-State audition, even as Carlson and Piontkowski prepare for college, where each said she will continue to pursue music.
And when the music comes for the honor ensemble, they’ll be ready to put in more hours preparing to do what they love.
“They’ll be ready,” their choral director said. “They’ve put in the work.”