VYO Senior Spotlight!

Connor Zwonik, percussion
Colchester High School
Joined VYOA in 2011
VYO – 3 years
Vermont Youth Philharmonia – 1 year
Vermont Youth Sinfonia – 1 year
Vermont Youth Winds – 1 year
 

 

 

 

 

What do you love about playing your instrument? 
I like how every time I play my instrument it can be heard.  Being able to be a powerful and driving force is fun when playing in the orchestra or band and I enjoy being able to lead the ensemble in many occasions.  I like how versatile percussion is and how there are many different instruments to play, from snare drum and timpani to drum set and marimba.  There is something for everyone in the percussion section.

What has been the most inspiring or memorable experience that you have had with VYO?
My most memorable experience with the VYO would definitely be my senior solo last December.  Being able to play at the OrchestraChorusPalooza Concert was very rewarding and it gave me an opportunity to play a not so well known piece.  It also gave the audience the chance to listen to a percussion solo which is not something that you hear every day.

What has been your most memorable experience throughout your high school music career?
My most memorable experience was participating in the New England Music Festival for all four years of high school.  I greatly enjoyed being a part of the festival because it gave me the opportunity to meet fellow students from around New England and it also gave me the chance to explore new music in both orchestral and band repertoire.

What other sports/groups/activities are you involved in?
I have been a part of my school’s band for all four years of high school and a part of jazz band for two years as well.  I have been a member of the Colchester High School Math Team for all four years and have been a member of the Speech Team for two years now.  I am also the secretary of the National Honor Society, I have played in the pit band for school musicals, became an Eagle Scout as part of the Boy Scouts of America, and have mentored fellow students in the district in math.

If you could perform with any musician, living or dead, who would it be & why?
I would want to perform with Gustav Holst because he wrote many great pieces that utilized brass and percussion such as the Planets Suite.  I would like to learn from him and see how he crafted all those masterful works.

What are your plans after graduation?
I plan to attend a four-year college to study mathematics.

Online Auction Preview!

Help us raise $10,000 for student financial aid …and have fun doing it!

The Online Auction opens one week from today. Click here for a sneak peek! Register to bid today and you’ll be ready when the auction opens.

Want to help us get a head-start on our goal? You can make a donation right now toward financial aid!

The VYOA would like to extend its heartfelt thanks to all of the businesses and individuals who donated items for this fundraiser. Please patronize these businesses and tell them we sent you!

 

VYO Senior Spotlight!

Caroline Tally, cello
Hanover High School
Joined VYOA in 2014
VYO – 3.5 years

What do you love about playing your instrument?
When I was little, I was enamored with the “friend-like” size of the cello and the deep, pure sound it made.  Also, like many young string players, I couldn’t help but compare my bow with a wand from Olivander’s Shop in Harry Potter!  Creating sound and making music seemed so powerful and magical.  Eleven years later, I still feel the same way.

What has been the most inspiring or memorable piece or experience that you performed/had with VYO?
Performing Beethoven No. 9 for the VYO’s 50th Anniversary in 2014 was incredible. The piece was a journey for me – daunting (and a bit of a stretch) at the start and triumphant at the close. After hours of rehearsal, it came together and felt like a huge celebration of talent and hard work from every section of the orchestra.

What would you like to change about the classical music world?
I would love to see the classical music world be less stuffy and more accessible to younger audiences.  I really appreciate the informality and high-level playing of the TURNmusic series and other unpretentious chamber groups popping up on the classical music scene.  My non-musical friends do not “get” how playing classical music can be “fun,” but these performances show the camaraderie and collaboration that many think is “reserved” for athletics and theater.  I am fortunate to have spent two summers at Kinhaven Music School in Weston, Vermont, where many of the most serious musicians I know play with barefeet.

What was your biggest musical breakthrough?
Shout out to my cello teacher, John Dunlop!  Studying with John throughout the past three years has been transformative.  After years of intentional and supportive Suzuki lessons, it was exciting to break-out of Suzuki repertoire and explore new pieces and études with John.  Never in a million years did I think I would ever get to play the Elgar Cello Concerto in E minor!

What other sports/groups/activities are you involved in?
The cello seems to find its way into all areas of my life.  Last year, for an independent physics project, I researched the physics of sound and analyzed the sound spectrums of different cellos – including my teacher’s.  This year I have been reading a lot of Russian literature and exploring its connections to music and history.  When not thinking of ways to use music to make school more interesting, I am editor of my high school’s yearbook and a fair-weather skier and hiker. My sister, Courtney, and I also volunteer with the strings program at a local elementary school – which is very important to me.  My public school kindergarten teacher introduced me to the cello, and I am forever grateful.

What are your plans after graduation?
This summer I am really excited to be spending 8 weeks at Boston University’s Tanglewood Institute in Lenox, Massachusetts.  I can’t wait to focus exclusively on music and be free of homework!  In the fall, I start at Williams College in Massachusetts, where I hope to double major in music and physical science.

 

VYO Senior Spotlight!

Kate Mori, trombone
Burr & Burton Academy
Joined VYOA in 2015
VYO – 2 years

 

What do you love about playing your instrument?

I really like that the trombone can play in lots of different styles of music. It has been really fun to play in orchestras, bands, and jazz bands. The trombone is capable of being played in many settings and it has allowed me to explore different types of music.

What has been the most inspiring or memorable piece or experience that you performed/had with VYO?

The most memorable experience I’ve had with VYO was my first day of Reveille two years ago. I had never played in a full orchestra before and the sound was different from any group I’d gotten the chance to play in before. I enjoyed meeting a bunch of new people and experiencing the pieces we were playing come together really quickly.

What was your biggest musical breakthrough?

One of my most memorable musical experiences was my freshman year at All State Jazz Band. I had never been around musicians who were so serious about music and it was a really eye-opening experience for me. I realized that I could grow a lot as a player just by being surrounded by great musicians.

What other sports/groups/activities are you involved in?

All of my activities outside of VYO usually have to do with music. I play in my high school band, jazz combo, and after-school electronic music group. I also give trombone lessons and tutor at middle schools in my town.

If you could perform with any musician living or dead, who would it be and why?

If I could perform with any musician it would be Duke Ellington. He was such a major influence for jazz music. How he tailored the pieces specifically for his players added to the unique sound and style he created through his music.

What are your plans after graduation?

I’m going to college for either music performance or music education.

 

VYChorus Senior Spotlight!

Sadie Jones, voice
South Burlington High School
Joined VYOA in 2016
VYChorus – 1 year

 What do you love most about singing? 
While it is impossible to choose one thing, I can say that I love how music unites people. It is a medium for people to express themselves, and has the capability to bring together a group of people no matter the circumstances.

Who has been your most important musical influence?
My voice teacher Sarah Cullins has been my most important musical influence throughout my career. She has inspired me with her passion for music and teaching, and has helped to create an environment where challenging yourself personally and musically is both exciting and fun.

What has been the most inspiring experience that you have had as a member of the VYChorus?
The most inspiring experience that I have had as a member of the VYC has been meeting all of the dedicated student musicians who are as passionate about music as I am. It is encouraging to be surrounded by people who are so devoted and excited about this opportunity to be a part of such an incredible organization.

Why did you choose to join the VYChorus?
I chose to join the VYC because I wanted to be exposed to music in a setting outside of school. Being a part of this chorus has helped me to meet new people and challenge myself to be the best musician I can be.

What other sports/groups/activities are you involved in?
When I’m not at VYC… I like to spend my time doing a variety of activities such as dancing on the SBHS dance team, tutoring and mentoring students at FH Tuttle Middle School, as well as participating in community theater productions such as Lyric’s Mary Poppins.

If you could perform with any musician, living or dead, who would it be & why?
If I had the chance to perform with any musician, it would be Eric Whitacre. His efforts to incorporate music and technology are truly spectacular, as well as his composition and direction skills. Even to be included in one of his virtual choirs would be incredible!

What are your plans after graduation?
While I am not yet sure of what school I will be attending or what I will be majoring in this fall, I am positive I will be pursuing a minor in music wherever I go.

 

VYChorus Senior Spotlight!

Noah Gilbert-Fuller, voice
South Burlington High School
Joined VYOA in 2016
VYChorus – 1 year

 

 

What do you love most about singing? 
I love being able to perform music that allows me to learn more about the cultures and ideas behind different genres. Performing music is enough reward for studying it.

Who or what has been your most important musical influence?
Lin-Manuel Miranda and Frank Ocean are some of my favorite songwriters, but I have a deep appreciation for any live jazz or indie music. Hearing musicians with a genuine passion for their work inspires me.

What has been the most inspiring experience that you have had as a member of the VYChorus?
Being able to work with and communicate with the students and teachers has helped me appreciate choral learning and performance immensely.

Why did you choose to join the VYChorus?
I went on a trip to New York to perform at Carnegie Hall with a group of musicians from VYOC, and Mr. Pillsbury helped teach us. We had a blast, and seeing the commitment and passion of the others convinced me to sign up. 

What other sports/groups/activities are you involved in?
I’ve participated in my schools’ theater program since I was a freshman. I’m a part of my schools’ chamber choir, and I am a member of the Boy Scouts.

If you could perform with any musician, living or dead, who would it be & why?
Probably someone like D’Angelo, or The Roots . I’d love to just vibe with a group of musicians one day.

What are your plans after graduation?
I plan on staying in Vermont, taking a few classes nearby, and pursuing music on my own, or perhaps in education.

VYO Senior Spotlight!

Katherine Yang, violin
South Burlington High School
Joined VYOA in 2011
VYO – 4 years
VYPhilharmonia – 1 year
VYSinfonia – 1 year
 

What do you love about playing your instrument?
My favorite thing about the violin is its versatility. I love being able to play a wide range of styles and it’s an especially good feeling to master a style and have it sound good.

What has been the most memorable piece that you performed with VYO?
The most memorable piece by far for me is when we played Beethoven’s 9th Symphony a few years ago. I think it was my first year in VYO and that piece had everything: a famous melody, the entire chorus behind us, and four incredible solo singers. It was just amazing being able to play such a well-known piece and it showed me what the orchestra was really capable of.

What is your earliest musical memory?
Strangely enough, my earliest musical memory does not involve a violin, or any instrument for that matter. The memory is from when I was about five years old, and I was singing “This Land is Your Land” and accompanying the very off key notes with enthusiastic hand gestures. And my parents videotaped it. Fortunately for everyone, I took up violin a few years later, which has turned out better than my singing career ever would have.

Who or what has been your most important musical influence?
My current violin teacher, Kathleen Kono, has definitely been the most influential for me. I began studying with her halfway through middle school so she has been the one who has guided me through VYOA, the All-State Orchestra, and the New England Orchestra. With Kathleen, I have seen my improvement over the years and without her constant guidance and encouragement, I know I would not be half the player I was today.

What other sports/groups/activities are you involved in?
Aside from VYO, most of my time is spent running. I’ve run cross country and track on the school team for the past four years which takes up the whole school year. Running has been a big part of my life since before middle school, so it’s something that I really cherish and hope to continue in the future. I am also a captain of my school’s Mathleague team, where we compete throughout the school year with the math teams of other schools.

If you could perform with any musician, living or dead, who would it be & why?
I would want to perform with Soovin Kim because he is so talented at what he does seems like a very enthusiastic person. I think that being able to play with him would be a life-changing experience and would help me be a better player.

What are your plans after graduation?
I plan to attend a four-year university and major in Economics/Mathematics (although the latter is subject to change). I hope to continue playing violin in college and possibly join the orchestra or a chamber group.

 

VYChorus Senior Spotlight!

Thong (Key) Ngyuen, voice
Winooski High School
Joined VYOA in 2015
VYChorus – 2 years

 

 

 

 

 

What do you love most about singing? 
Singing is a way for me to find balance in my life. I enjoy every moment I perform on stage or just simply singing in my bedroom. I confess that every time I have a concert or a music event coming up, I feel more motivated to finish all other works faster and have some free time to practice my piece.

Who or what has been your most important musical influence?
Mr. Pillsbury has been my most important musical influence. He is a wonderful conductor and a great teacher. He taught me to sing, helped me to prepare for auditions, inspired me to keep going forward, and supported me every step of the way to who I am today. My singing style is strongly influenced by Pillsbury. Every time I have a chance to work with professional singers to advance my skills, they all tell me that whoever taught me to sing had done a wonderful job. (Well, Mr. Pillsbury, take your credit!)

What has been the most inspiring experience that you have had as a member of the VYChorus?
I have many great experiences as a VYChorus member but I would say the most inspiring experience for me is just simply be able to sing with other members of VYC every week. I am grateful for every moment I spent with them because I can’t imagine how boring my life would be without those amazing friends. In fact, one of them became a very close (and important) friend of mine. My life has changed 180° since I joined VYC.

Why did you choose to join the VYChorus?
I would give 2/3 of the credit to Rainbow Chen, a double bassist in VYO. She was the reason why I applied to VYChorus. The other 1/3 of the credit would go to my school because if the choral program at my high school did not suddenly get taken away when I already felt deeply in love with singing, I would never think about joining other music programs. I was really sad but I thought that everything happened for a reason. If I did not join VYC, I would never get to know Mr. Pillsbury and other members of VYC. That being said, all of the things I mentioned in question #2 and #3 would not have happened.

What other sports/groups/activities are you involved in?
Leadership and social activities are my two other favorites. This year I mostly focus on school and college works so I spent less time for leadership and social activities but in the last three years, I have been a member/youth counselor of Diversity Rocks International Youth Group; a youth-led group with the mission of helping our community to be a better place and creating a safe place for youth voice to be heard. The group activities are varied from helping students with their homework to hosting conferences about social issues. I also involved in student government and student voice team at my high school to take the lead on creating a better learning environment.

 If you could perform with any musician, living or dead, who would it be & why?
If I could perform with any musician, I would want to perform with Joan Sutherland, one of the legends in the opera world. I still remember my first opera experience was watching a video of Joan Sutherland’s performance on Youtube (it was about five years ago). I was so impressed by that; her voice and the music she made were beyond what I had experienced before and that was also when I found out how much I love Opera.

What are your plans after graduation?
My plan after graduation is going to a 4-year college. I’m not sure what I want to major in but I know that it will be something in bio-science field. I will definitely keep singing, so I might end up double major or minor in music performance with the focus in Opera.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: VYOA Welcomes Benjamin Klemme as Music Director!

The Vermont Youth Orchestra Association (VYOA) has named Benjamin Klemme, D.M.A. of Davenport, IA, to the position of music director, effective July 1, 2017. Klemme succeeds Jeffrey Domoto, who served as music director from 2011 until his resignation in May 2016. Edward Cumming, a member of the faculty at the Hartt School in Hartford, CT, served as interim Vermont Youth Orchestra conductor for 2016-2017 season while the organization conducted a national search.

Currently, Klemme holds concurrent positions as music director and conductor, Quad City Symphony Youth Ensembles, and associate conductor, Quad City Symphony Orchestra, both located in the Davenport area, as well as concert orchestra conductor, Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies, and orchestra conductor, Augsburg College, both located in Minneapolis, MN.

Previous experience includes positions as assistant and associate conductor for other professional orchestras such as the Cleveland Pops and National Repertory Orchestras, as well as the collegiate program at the University of Minnesota. He has also served as a faculty member at the MacPhail Center for Music, Minneapolis, Santa Fe Youth Symphony Association, and New Mexico School for the Arts.

“We are all looking forward to Benjamin’s arrival,” said Mike Noble, chair, VYOA Board of Directors. “This was a very competitive search, indicative of the amount of attention the VYOA receives from music organizations across the country. Benjamin brings a wealth of experience to the VYOA and he stood out as the unanimous choice to lead us forward. Paired with our executive director, Rosina Cannizzaro, the organization has an exciting future ahead.

“At the same time,” Noble continued, “I want to recognize the wonderful work Edward Cumming did with us as interim conductor of the Vermont Youth Orchestra this year. His willingness to join us on Sundays from Hartford, CT, for rehearsals and the concerts was a monumental effort.”

“I am extremely honored to have been invited to join the VYOA as music director,” said Klemme. “The VYOA is a cultural treasure with a strong tradition of musical and educational excellence. I look forward to working with the many individuals who comprise the VYOA community in order to sustain its artistic distinction, and empower its students to achieve their potential in ways that enliven and enrich Vermont’s cultural atmosphere.”

Klemme received a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from the University of Northern Iowa, a Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting from the Cleveland Institute of Music, and a Doctor of Musical Arts in Conducting from University of Minnesota. He and his family will be relocating to Vermont this spring.

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Klemme to the VYOA family!

VYO Senior Spotlight!

Julia Chadwick, violin
Essex High School
Joined VYOA in 2009
VYO – 3 years
VYPhilharmonia – 1 year
Sinfonia – 3 years
VYStrings – 1 year
Presto – 3 sessions

What do you love about playing your instrument?
I love being able to play a variety of different styles of music. As a violinist it can be really difficult to maintain good tone, so achieving correct style for any piece is always challenging. The feeling of finally mastering a specific style is probably one of the most enjoyable feelings.

What is your favorite or most memorable piece that you performed with any VYOA ensemble?
One of the most memorable pieces I performed with the VYOA was the Saint-Saens Cello Concerto played by Senior Soloist, John Yao.  I remember that rehearsal where about 2 measures in we all knew he was an extraordinary cellist. Many of the other senior soloists are exceptional as well, but John’s was the first I ever experienced, and the most memorable.

What is your favorite VYOA memory?
One of my favorite VYOA memories was during my first year at Reveille. I made a variety of friends that week, and I distinctly remember running around the dorms at night and baking brownies in one of the dorm kitchens.

What do you look forward to in playing your final VYO concert?
I look forward to making beautiful music with my friends.

What other sports/groups/activities are you involved in?
I am also involved in Vermont Works for Women, my school orchestra, cross country, and nordic skiing.

If you could perform with any (famous) musician, who would it be & why?
If I could perform with anyone it would be Itzhak Perlman. He is a legend in the violin community and I have met him briefly, and he is an extremely pleasant man. Playing with him would be a great learning opportunity, and enjoyable.

What are your plans after graduation?
I plan on going to college to get a Geology degree. I hope to continue playing in music ensembles in college and beyond, and I am eager to meet more great young musicians along the way.