Standing Ovation: Monique Corcoran

Monique with daughter & VYOA French horn player, class of 2017

After 23 years in Vermont, VYOA Board Chair Monique Corcoran will be moving out of state at the end of this month. In her seven years as a VYOA parent and five as a VYOA Board member Monique has brought such a passion and enthusiasm for the arts. In the midst of planning for this big move, she carved out some time to sit with us and answer these questions:

Q. When and why did you become involved with the VYOA? 

A. I became involved with the VYOA in 2012 when my daughter joined Sinfonia. I was completely impressed by the organization, had just finished tenure with another Board of Directors and was looking for a new organization to volunteer my time and energy with.

 

Q. What inspired you to serve on the VYOA Board of Directors? 

A. The VYOA offers an amazing experience to students in this region. The quality and caliber of the musical experience as well as the cultural and leadership opportunities is impressive. My parents exposed me to the arts throughout my childhood, and I appreciate how valuable the arts is to our society and our culture. We must preserve them and ensure that they continue. The VYOA plays a critical role in Vermont to help ensure that this happens.

 

Q. How has the organization changed throughout your tenure on the Board? 

A. The organization has become innovative with the implementation of the Rug Concert series, the Music Inspires program, collaborative projects with other organizations, incorporating other art forms, etc.  This dynamism offers relevant opportunities for the students to think about and experience music in new and different ways.

 

Q. Why do you think music is an important part of a young person’s development & growth? 

A. Music has been scientifically proven to improve the human brain’s capabilities in math and science. Beyond that, music uses both sides of the brain and fosters emotional and psychological growth. In today’s digital world dominated by constant social media distraction, learning and performing music forces students to be totally present in the moment and fully engaged with their partners in the orchestra. The history they learn about the composers is fantastic! As a society, we don’t want to lose or forget our history. Participation in the VYOA is just one way of many to keep that history alive. 

 

While we are sad to see Monique go, we wish her all the best in her next adventure. Thank you so much for dedicating your time & talent to our young musicians!

 

Senior Spotlight 2019!

Paige Greenia, clarinet
Mississquoi Valley Union

VT Youth Orchestra – 2 years
VT Youth Philharmonia – 3 years
VT Youth Chamber Winds – 1 year

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you enjoy most about playing in an orchestra?

The best part about playing in an orchestra is getting to know the other players and getting to understand and appreciate great music.

What has been your biggest musical breakthrough?

My biggest musical breakthrough was learning how to perform and enjoy a piece of music and not get caught up in the technicalities of it.

What advice would you give to younger music students as they strive to build their skills?

The best advice that I have is don’t forget to enjoy the music for what it is and don’t take the competitive part too seriously.

What kinds of changes would you like to see in the orchestral world?

I would really like to see more women composers as well as contemporary composers represented in orchestra repertoire.

What is your favorite VYOA memory?

Scavenger hunts and bowling during Reveille, our pre-season rehearsal week.

 

Senior Spotlight 2019!

Sebastiaan West, piano
Mount Mansfield Union

VT Youth Orchestra – 3 years

January 2019 Senior Soloist

 

 

 

 

How did you choose your instrument over all of the others? 

When I was five, I began playing around on my family’s old upright. I always kind of gravitated towards it, partly because of how logically it’s laid out and partly because of the grandiosity of the sounds it’s capable of. For me it’s the most intuitive way of speaking in a musical idiom, since it’s such a visual, cerebral instrument without losing the capability to create absolutely heart-wrenching textures.

What do you enjoy most about playing in an orchestra?

I absolutely love the way that we get to tell a story together. I remember being in eighth grade and playing piano for Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite–the big chords at the end were like a grand, forgiving, cleansing church bell. I have felt so much catharsis and joy and sadness while onstage or in rehearsal with the VYO.

What has been your biggest musical breakthrough?

I’d say that it was definitely touring Cape Breton Island with the Young Tradition Vermont Touring Group. We were playing mostly Celtic music, and I remember waking up one morning and just feeling absolutely immersed in beauty. Everywhere I turned there were beautiful people making beautiful music. I thought to myself, ‘you know, this music thing is kind of alright.’

What advice would you give to younger music students as they strive to build their skills?

PLAY MUSIC YOU LIKE! I always find that I play and practice best when I’m playing music that I want to be playing. Work hard, but know what you’re working for. Tell a story.

What kinds of changes would you like to see in the orchestral world?

I’d like to see a greater emphasis on the importance of music theory and composition. They’re often hailed as this ‘holy-grail’ process, that only musical elites or specifically talented composers can achieve. In my experience, composition is really the same process as performance, and studying one really reinforces the other. Of course, great composers should be hailed with the same reverence as great musicians, but that doesn’t mean that everyone can’t do both.

What is your favorite VYOA memory?

I’d have to go with every single thing that Dr. Klemme has said in his time as conductor thus far.

Apart from orchestral music, what other kinds of music do you listen to? Do other genres influence what you hear in orchestral music?

I do a lot of jazz, and listen to a bunch of Irish, Scottish, and Québécois traditional music. They really, really help me as a classical musician–as someone starting to develop their own style of appreciation and interpretation, it’s really helpful to have media where the narrative and harmonic complexity is a little bit reduced, like in Celtic trad; it makes it a lot easier to answer the questions of what sounds good in a melody, how a melody and an accompaniment fit together, and where the entire classical genre even came from.

What other activities do you participate in? 

I lead a jazz combo, am part of another jazz combo, and play piano and accordion in the Young Tradition Vermont Touring Group. I honestly spend the better part of everyday playing music, depending on what style I’m doing more of that day. School is definitely winding down but is still taking up a big chunk of my time; besides that I’m also working on my Eagle Scout Project.

What college or university do you plan or hope to attend next year? 

I’m not one hundred percent sure, but I’m pretty set on the University of Chicago, that is, after taking a gap year to play music around Europe.

What do you plan to study in college?

I’ll probably be studying something around the lines of either biology or ethnomusicology, or both, while performing regularly around wherever I end up going.

 

 

 

 

 

2019 Senior Spotlight!

Sam Koskinen, viola
Champlain Valley Union

VT Youth Orchestra – 4 years
VT Youth Chorus – 1 year
VT Youth Philharmonia – 1 year
VT Youth Sinfonia – 2 years

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How did you choose your instrument over all of the others?

While the Violin was what I first wanted to play, I started on and stayed with the Viola. It was my mother, a former violist, who explained to me the magic of the Viola.

What do you enjoy most about playing in an orchestra?

Knowing that I am contributing to a large group effort, along with some of the most talented people I have, and will ever know.

What kinds of changes would you like to see in the orchestral world?

More people in the audiences. Selling out the Flynn was always something I wanted to do, and that level of excitement and support for the VYOA’s musicians is always something they deserve.

What is your favorite VYOA memory?

It’s absolutely when I was mere feet away from the reveal of the first ever Bobblehead Dvorak.

What other activities do you participate in?

I love to play Ultimate Frisbee, and since middle school, I’ve enjoyed singing in my school’s choirs.

What do you plan to study in college?

Music Business and Technology

Senior Spotlight 2019!

Isabelle Petrucci, viola
Essex High

VT Youth Orchestra – 3 years
VT Youth Philharmonia – 2 years
VT Youth Strings – 1 year
Presto – 1 session

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grace Lu, violin
Essex High

VT Youth Orchestra – 5 years
VT Youth Sinfonia – 1 year
VT Youth Strings – 1 ½ years
Presto – 1 session
September 2018 Senior Soloist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How did you choose your instrument over all of the others?

Lu: In kindergarten each person in my class had a chance to choose what CD to play music from during nap time. Whenever it was my turn, I would choose this one Vanessa Mae CD my teacher Mrs. Palmer had in her basket of CDs. I soon fell in love with the lush, romantic tone of the violin and I eventually picked up the violin so I could try it out for myself.

Petrucci: Honestly, I chose to play viola because two of my closest friends were playing viola. I didn’t really know much about it, but I figured if they were doing it, then I would probably like it too. In the end, they both ended up switching to violin (cough cough grace you traitor…), but I stuck with viola, and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

What do you enjoy most about playing in an orchestra?

Petrucci: My favorite part about orchestra is the music that we’re able to produce. I just find it incredible that so many people can get together once a week and work together so that the end result is beautiful pieces of music. I love the fact that it feels like a big family, and when you’re playing in an orchestra, you forget about everything else and you just focus on the music.

What other activities do you participate in?

Lu: I’m a student representative on the Essex Westford School District school board which means I have the opportunity to talk to students of all ages. I love the enthusiasm they bring to the conversation and being on the board allows me to work with administrators to make EWSD the best it can be. Besides VYO I play in pit orchestras for middle school and high school productions and teach violin privately. I also compete in my school’s Math League and Scholar’s Bowl team.

What has been your biggest musical breakthrough?

Petrucci: My biggest musical breakthrough is honestly kind of basic. I realized that if I wanted to be good at my instrument and sound good, I would need to put the work in. It doesn’t matter how much natural talent you have, if you don’t put the work and practice in, your playing will eventually start to plateau and you won’t really improve anymore. If you don’t like how you play or how you sound, then you need to work hard and keep practicing. I think that that’s a realization that at some point in their musical careers, everybody will come to, and it is one of the most important realizations there is.

What advice would you give to younger music students as they strive to build their skills?

Lu: Try to do something related to music every day. There’s inevitably going to be days where you’re simply too busy to practice, but you can listen to your pieces while doing homework or jot down a few things you would really like to hone in on during your next practice session. Also I’d recommend keeping a practice journal. It helps you remember what skills to continue working on each practice session and I like how I can flip through my journal and see the progress I’ve made.

Petrucci: I would tell younger music students to never give up and to not get discouraged. At times, it can seem tough, and it can seem like you’re not improving, no matter how much you’re practicing, but it’s important to keep going and keep trying. Improvement comes with time and practice, and you should never get discouraged in your playing, no matter how frustrating a certain passage or piece may be. You’ll eventually get it and once you do, you’ll be so proud of what you’ve done.

What is your favorite VYOA memory?

Petrucci: My favorite VYOA memory is probably the May concert last year when we played all of Tchaik 5. It was something that we had been working up to all year, and when we finally did it, I thought that it felt pretty amazing. All of our hard work and Sunday rehearsals had been for that moment, and I thought that it really paid off. It was just such an incredible concert and symphony as well.

Lu: I don’t have a single favorite memory because it’s the accumulation of the tiny moments that make VYO so memorable. For example, I love the moments where I make eye contact with my stand partner after goofing up and we both end up laughing it off or when someone approaches me during break to show me an orchestra meme.

What do you plan to study in college?

Petrucci: I want to study chemistry in college, eventually going into medicine and research.

Lu: Right now I’m interested in studying either economics or neuroscience, but that could definitely change! However, I definitely plan on sticking with violin while in college.

Standing Ovation: recognizing the VYOA’s steadfast supporters

Joan Martin became a VYOA donor in the late 1960s when her children became involved with the org then called Burlington Friends of Music or BFOM. Mrs. Martin was kind enough to share her experience as a parent, Board member, and longtime supporter:

 

Q. Why did you first get involved with the VYOA?

A. My eldest daughter Lori had just started the violin. Carolyn Long or Liz Wallman got me interested, and it was a very wonderful group of women. Lori continued to play the violin, my daughter Patti played clarinet, and Brenda played the French horn. Then, my grandson Wylie played oboe in VYO and went on the China tour in 2007.

 

Q. How has the organization changed over the years?

A. The used instrument sale was one of the BFOM’s big fundraisers, and I came up with the idea for it!  All the instruments had to be appraised by an instrument dealer.  St.Paul’s Cathedral donated space for the sale. It was a huge job, and the friends did a fabulous job with that for quite a few years.  Summer camp (Reveille) was also a very big occasion. While fun and a good musical experience for the kids, it was a huge job for the association and friends.

 

Q. What inspires you to support the VYOA?

A. The VYOA is one fantastic organization!  As it has grown it has flourished and so many young people have benefited from every aspect of it.  These young people have given hours and hours and I do not believe that they would ever say it was not worth every hour that they have spent. It has certainly been my great pleasure to be an active supporter of the VYOA.

 

Q. Why do you think music is an important part of a young person’s development & growth?

A. It provides discipline, commitment, friendships, the beauty of music and sometimes even a vocation. Music stays with you all of your life even when you no longer play in an orchestra.

Senior Spotlight 2019!

Samuel Handy, trombone
BFA St. Albans

VT Youth Orchestra – 1 year
VT Youth Philharmonia – 2 years

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How did you choose your instrument over all of the others?
The trombone was louder and shinier than anything else…what choice did I have?

What do you enjoy most about playing in an orchestra?
I love being able to come together to play great music with great people.

What has been your biggest musical breakthrough?
Getting my braces off removed a huge handicap for me when it came to playing trombone.

What advice would you give to younger music students as they strive to build their skills?
Don’t stop playing, because music will open up doors for you for the rest of your life!

What kinds of changes would you like to see in the orchestral world?
More trombones!

What other activities do you participate in?
I like to run, Nordic ski, and play piano in my free time.

If you know, what do you plan to study in college?
Russian language and studies.

Senior Spotlight 2019!

Dante Letzelter, viola
Northeast Kingdom Learning Services

VT Youth Orchestra – 3 years
VT Youth Philharmonia – 2 years

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How did you choose your instrument over all of the others?
I actually started many years ago on violin. But we had a viola in my home that no one was using. Not being one to neglect instruments, I decided to play that instead. I immediately fell in love with mid range of the viola.

What do you enjoy most about playing in an orchestra?
I love hearing all the parts come together to make one voice, and the best thing is when you hear a part you haven’t heard before. It can be hard to hear what everyone is playing, especially when you sit in front of the trumpets.

What has been your biggest musical breakthrough?
Learning how to learn music by hearing it.

What advice would you give to younger music students as they strive to build their skills?
Play along with recordings of what you’re playing helps a ton. If you’re having a lot of trouble with a certain part of a piece, take a break from practicing it and play something else. Come back to it in a day or two.

What kinds of changes would you like to see in the orchestral world?
I think school music programs can always use more! Especially out where I live, school music programs could use support. It would also be quite something to hear an orchestra perform a disco piece.

What is your favorite VYOA memory?
At the first Reveille [the season kick-off rehearsals for VYO and VYP] I attended, a brass band comprised of the VYO brass and percussion sections paraded out of the men’s bathroom and around Elley-Long.

Apart from orchestral music, what other kinds of music do you listen to? Do other genres influence what you hear in orchestral music?
I listen to all different kinds of music, anything from Klezmer to Hip-Hop, I’ll give it a listen. I am always hearing parts of pieces and songs in other pieces and songs.

What other activities do you participate in?
I sing in a small singing group nearby my home, and I play Trombone in two local brass bands. I also work in the woods tapping trees for sugaring season.

If you know, what do you plan to study in college?
Education, a trade, and music/art are the top contenders right now, but that could change.

 

Senior Spotlight 2019!

Madeline Daly, cello
Mount Mansfield Union

VT Youth Orchestra – 1 year
VT Youth Philharmonia – 2 years
VT Youth Strings – 2 years

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maya Parry, horn
Mount Mansfield Union

VT Youth Orchestra – 2 years
VT Youth Philharmonia – 2 years

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How did you choose your instrument over all of the others?

Daly: I didn’t really consider playing any other instrument than the cello. It is just such a musically versatile instrument. From trad to pop to classical, you can always catch the cello holding down the bass line, or hoping out to steal the melody. I also enjoy how it can be played with literally any other instrument and it will sound good. It makes jam sessions very convenient.

Parry: I used to play trumpet but in 7th grade, my band teacher told me I looked like a horn player and gave me a horn to take home over the summer. I instantly fell in love with the sound and I felt like I had found my voice.

What do you enjoy most about playing in an orchestra?

Parry: I love the community, the music, and the blending of voices.

Daly: I love being in the music I’m playing. It’s one thing to sit at home and just hear yourself, but to sit in the middle of a bunch of notes, rhythms, harmonies, and instruments is magical.

What advice would you give to younger music students as they strive to build their skills?

Daly: Play with friends. Join interesting music groups. Do something other than play by yourself. You learn so much more by going out of your musical comfort zone, and you can meet some cool people. You will be surprised at how much your musicality improves.

Parry: Practice! But practice a variety of things. Yes, long tones and scales are important and will make you into a better player, but if you only practice tiresome things, you’ll loathe practicing. Get a book of pop songs! Have some fun! Return to pieces or excerpts you loved. Play to make yourself happy, not just to get better.

What is your favorite VYOA memory?

Parry: The talent show during Reveille [the season kick-off rehearsals for VYO and VYP]. Whether it was amazing singing, solo piano, cello duets, mad-libs, or kazooing the National Anthem, there was always something exciting and new.

If you know, what do you plan to study in college?

Daly: Digital Media and Film Production