Class of 2020 Senior Spotlight!

Kai Williams, violin
Vergennes Union High

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

 

 

Photo credit: Keith MacDonald

 

What role does music play in your life?

I think that music is my primary mode of emotional expression, both in composition and playing. A lot of what I do day to day is very intellectual, so the opportunity to make music balances that cerebral dominance. I can really let go for a few hours at a time and just release my tension and stresses.

 

What do you enjoy most about playing in an orchestra?

I love the broad variety of emotions that an orchestra can express. It’s an amazing feeling to be able to help express tenderness and love (the 2nd movement of the New World Symphony comes to mind) and fiery energy (the 4th movement, for instance) fifteen minutes apart from each other.

 

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

I think that the best advice I can give is to never be satisfied with any one extreme. Don’t let music consume your life, but don’t shut it out either. Don’t focus solely on technical skills, but don’t ignore it either. Music is constantly a compromise, and the more you realize it, the more versatile you can become.

 

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

For one, I’d like to see clapping between movements become acceptable again. It’s such a natural thing to do, especially for those not deeply familiar with classical music already, that it plays into the reputation of classical music being snobby. I think that even just the end of that one taboo would make a good start towards making classical music more relevant to broader culture.

 

What is your favorite VYOA memory?

It has to be rehearsing and playing the first 30 bars of the second movement of the New World Symphony. The beauty of the English Horn solo never ceases to move me, and the chance to play in it person was one of the most powerful experiences I have ever had.

 

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 a lot of French rock, as well as other types of rock. I think that the pared down simplicity of the genre (and other popular music, in general) helps me appreciate the complexity of orchestral music more clearly. It also serves as a welcome contrast.

 

What do you plan to study in college and how did you make your choice?

I am planning to be a math major in college (with a potential minor in composition). I don’t think I have ever really had to consciously make a choice; I have always loved math and been interested in it, and so it just feels like a natural decision. I am still up in the air about composition.

 

Congratulations Kai! Thanks for sharing your sense of humor with us all these years & we wish you the best of luck!

Words of Wisdom for the Class of 2020!

Words of wisdom and encouragement from past VYOA alums to the Class of 2020!

 

Becca DeCamp, Class of 2016 clarinet, was with the VYOA for 4 years and was a part of our Iceland Tour in 2015. She is in her final semester at Boston University studying biological anthropology and minoring in Music, having continued to study clarinet privately and perform with the BU All-Campus Orchestra during her four years of college. This Fall, Becca will be starting her PhD in evolutionary anthropology at Rutgers! Becca’s words of wisdom for the Class of 2020: “I wish I knew that finding an outlet to play music in college as a non-major is much easier than I thought it would be. If you want to play, don’t be afraid to contact the music department about ways you can get involved in ensembles!”

 

 

 

 

Sebastiaan West, Class of 2019 piano and Senior Soloist, has been enjoying a gap year back in his native Netherlands making a living as a street performer and tackling the challenges and responsibilities of living away from home. Following this gap year he is looking forward to attending university in Rotterdam! Sebastiaan’s words of wisdom for the Class of 2020: “Be sure to check out universities outside of the US, and just have fun! You’re in your last months of high school—and that’s incredibly special. Take time to bid farewell to this stage of your life, and appreciate the fact that all of your friends are still in one place. Good luck everyone, I know you’ll all do incredibly no matter what you choose to do. I hope to see you all soon.”

 

 

 

Sam Handy, Class of 2019 trombone, was with the VYOA for three years holding down the fort in our loss brass section. He is finishing up his first year at George Washington University studying International Affairs, but continues to stay active musically by playing with the school orchestra and other ensembles. Sam’s words of wisdom for the Class of 2020: “It’s important to finish high school strong and leave a good impression on the programs you have participated in all this time. Music and orchestra especially are great ways to take your mind off applications and make your last semester your best. College is what you make of it. Wherever you are accepted, if you work hard, stay focused, and, of course, keep playing music, you will do well and succeed!”

 

 

Class of 2020, you have a handful of exciting decisions to make, but only 3 more months of high school, 7 more Sunday VYO rehearsals, and ONE final VYO Flynn Concert left!

Class of 2020 Senior Spotlight!

Sydney Segear, flute
Mount Mansfield Union

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

 

 

 

 

Photo credit: Arielle Thomas

 

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

When I was in 5th grade, we were briefly introduced to each instrument in the school band, and I just loved the crisp, clear sound of the flute. I immediately knew that it was the instrument I wanted to play!

 

What role does music play in your life?

Music is a way for me to relax and express myself each day. I have also made many amazing friends through my involvement in music.

 

What do you enjoy most about playing in an orchestra?

I love the energy and power of so many musicians playing together at once. You spend a lot of time listening to yourself play alone while you practice, but nothing beats being surrounded by so many amazing musicians while you play incredible pieces — it is truly electrifying.

 

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

Work on sections slowly! If you can’t play it slow, you can’t play it fast.

 

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

I would really like to get to perform more pieces by female composers!

 

What is your favorite VYOA memory?

The Spain and Portugal tour this past summer. I loved getting to visit so many amazing places (especially Madrid!) and play for such welcoming audiences. The orchestra definitely bonded in a special way during this trip.

 

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

I’m really open to listening to any kind of music — the kind of music I listen to each day depends on my mood! Some days I may listen to pop, other days I might listen to Broadway musical soundtracks. The music I listen to can encompass so many unique styles, and this has taught me to observe and appreciate the different styles of orchestral music that I listen to and play.

 

What other activities do you participate in?

I figure skate with the Champlain Valley Skating Club and compete in regional competitions.

 

What do you plan to study in college and how did you make your choice?

I will be studying computer science. I really enjoy computer programming, math, and using technology to solve problems. While I’m not majoring in music, I will definitely continue to keep music in my life through joining ensembles in college.

 

Congratulations Sydney! We will miss the quiet camaraderie you bring to the flute section!

Class of 2020 Senior Spotlight!

David Amouretti, double bass
Essex High

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jacob Banicki, percussion
Essex High

VT Youth Orchestra – 1 year

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Amouretti: I started playing double bass because I loved jazz, but soon after I switched to playing mainly classical double bass. I also love how the bass is the backbone of any ensemble it is in, and that others rely on it without even knowing.

Banicki: When I was really young (about five) my grandma got me a drumset to play on. This was definitely the deciding factor that got me to play percussion. When 5th grade rolls around I started playing trumpet even though my heart was in percussion. I then switched 2 months later and the rest is history.

 

What role does music play in your life?

Amouretti: Music helps me make new friends, collaborate with others, take me to new places, and express myself. There hasn’t been a day in the past couple of years that music hasn’t been a part of.

 

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

Banicki: It’s never too late to start building your skills as a musician. Practice regularly and work with a qualified teacher and you are on your way to becoming a great musician. A good teacher will help guide you in honing your skills.

 

What do you enjoy most about playing in an orchestra?

Amouretti: I enjoy the feeling of family that comes with orchestra, and how we all come from different backgrounds and experiences to create one piece of art.

Banicki: At its most basic level, I love the music that we get to play. From composers like Tchaikovsky to Mahler, it’s just exciting to play music that you otherwise wouldn’t play. My friends and peers in the orchestra make it a supportive and friendly environment to create music.

 

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

Amouretti: I listen to a lot of acoustic, funk, rock, and jazz music. I feel like the connection to other musicians and the feeling of truly saying something with your music carries across into my orchestral playing.

 

What other activities do you participate in?

Banicki: I participate in many pit orchestras for musical theater, as well as many jazz bands through school. I also have a rock band with some of my friends.

 

What do you plan to study in college and how did you make your choice?

Amouretti: I plan to study classical music performance in college. I chose this because I realized a few years ago that I could not live without it, and it was one of the few things that truly made me happy in my life.

Banicki: Percussion Performance. I chose this because I love performing for people, and sharing music with others. The feeling that you get when you connect with the audience or listeners is indescribable and great.

 

Congratulations David & Jacob! Your passion for music radiates brightly & we look forward to seeing where it will take you!

Class of 2020 Senior Spotlight!

Nathan Wu, violin
Essex High

VT Youth Orchestra – 5 years
VT Youth Philharmonia – 1 year
VT Youth Sinfonia – 1 year

 

 

 

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

I got started with violin through my elementary school’s orchestra program, which gave students the opportunity to start a string instrument in 4th grade. My first choice was actually the bass, but my twin brother had already chosen the cello, so my parents wisely encouraged me to choose the violin, having the foresight to encourage us to play instruments that would complement each other.

 

What do you enjoy most about playing in an orchestra?

There’s something special about the process of creating music not alone, but with others. I love the inherently collaborative nature of orchestra – it’s like a giant group project where every person has a distinct role. It’s hard to articulate, but I guess it’s the feeling of being a part of something much bigger and grander than yourself while still knowing that you had a hand in shaping that something.

 

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

Try to build a community of young musicians around you, whether it be through joining an orchestra, going to summer music programs, or playing chamber music. It’s reassuring to know that you’re not alone in your musical journey. Also, playing music with other people adds a whole new dimension – it’s super fun and requires an important skill set that isn’t practiced with solo repertoire!

 

What other activities do you participate in?

I run cross country and nordic ski for my school. I am also a member of Student Government and enjoy being a part of my school’s Scholars’ Bowl team.

 

What do you plan to study in college and how did you make your choice?

I’m hoping to study either biochemistry/biophysics or computer science, ideally a combination of the two (computational biology). I’ve always been fascinated by the line between life and non-life, and I think that looking at this subject from a computational point of view is especially cool because computational methods enable predictive modeling of interactions between molecules and pathways, permitting an understanding of life’s inner workings on a level impossible with conventional lab or field experiments.

 

Congratulations Nathan! Your musicianship and camaraderie have inspired many students and adults during your time here at the VYOA!

Class of 2020 Senior Spotlight!

Sarah Bialas, bassoon
South Burlington High

VT Youth Orchestra – 3 1/2 years
VT Youth Philharmonia – 1 1/2 years

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sophie Dauerman, oboe
Champlain Valley Union

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kathryn Meyer, oboe
Stowe High

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Bialas: I chose to play the bassoon because of how unique it looked and sounded. I remember sitting in music class in fifth grade listening to the High School students give presentations about their instruments. I was immediately drawn to the weird, tall instrument with a deep, woody sound and told my mom I wanted to play it.

Dauerman: I knew I wanted to play a woodwind instrument after learning the recorder in school. I also knew I wanted something unique, but it was Peter and the Wolf that swayed my final decision.

 

What role does music play in your life?

Meyer: Music is my life. Ever since I started taking piano lessons in third grade I have been obsessed. Once I started playing oboe, I knew that music was what I wanted to do with my life. All through middle school, I would randomly learn to play new instruments, just for fun. In high school, I started doing every festival I could and I joined multiple ensemble. Performing, playing, and listing to music is my favorite thing to do.

 

What do you enjoy most about playing in an orchestra?

Bialas: I enjoy playing in an orchestra because for three hours every Sunday everyone is only focused on one thing, music. Everyone wants to be there and brings so much talent that all comes together in the music we play. Playing in an orchestra, you meet many so many amazing people and grow close to them, especially those in your section.

Dauerman: Friends! The relationships I’ve formed through playing in an orchestra have had such a positive impact on my life. The sound is also incredible- there’s nothing quite like sitting in the middle of an orchestra. It’s so easy to lose yourself in the music.

 

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

Bialas: One piece of advice I would give to younger musicians is to always enjoy what you’re doing. Finding ways of practicing that work for you and make it fun is always important. Music is a way of expressing yourself so make sure you are enjoying it!

Meyer: The advice I would give is to take every opportunity that is given to you. Every ensemble and performance can teach you something and the more you do, the more you will learn and grow as a musician.

 

What is your favorite VYOA memory?

Bialas: My favorite VYOA memory was the trip to Spain and Portugal. It was such a rewarding experience to be able to travel to such amazing places with a group of all such wonderful people. I got to make new friends and talk to people I hadn’t known previously, and the whole group was like a big family by the end. One memory from the trip that I will never forget is the joint concert with the Portuguese Youth Orchestra. Getting to know all about them and learning that they aren’t so different from us is definitely something I’ll never forget.

Dauerman: During the Spain and Portugal trip, we had a couple of hours to explore the walled city of Avila. Kay and I luckily ran into the chaperones and they took us up on top of the wall. The view was absolutely incredible!

Meyer: My favorite VYOA memory is definitely the Spain and Portugal Tour. I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to travel the world with an amazing group of people and perform. I loved being able to explore the cities and experience the rich cultures they all hold.

 

What other activities do you participate in?

Bialas: Some things I enjoy doing outside of orchestra include Irish dance, art, and playing other musical instruments. I love to paint and draw as well as play the guitar when I have the time. I’m also a championship Irish dancer and practice multiple times a week.

Dauerman: I play tennis and teach Hebrew school at my temple. I also love to bake and cross country ski for fun.

Meyer: Other than VYO, I play with Green Mountain Youth Symphony, University of Vermont Symphony and University of Vermont Wind Ensemble. At school, I sing in chorus and play in both band and jazz band. I am very thankful for having the opportunity to play in so many ensembles.

 

What college/university do you hope to attend & what do you plan to study in college?

Dauerman: I will be attending Yale next year. I’m currently planning on studying environmental science. I’ve always loved science and I’m very involved with climate activism so it’s a nice combination of the two. Plus, there’s so much to be done!

Meyer: I plan on studying performance next year at college. Music is what I love most in life and I can’t see myself doing anything other than music in the future. I’ve applied to conservatories for next year and I am excited to continue my studies in music and performance.

 

Congratulations Sarah, Sophie & Kathryn! We enjoyed having your artistry, dedication and friendship at the center of our orchestras for the past several years!

Class of 2020 Senior Spotlight!

Riley Fitzgerald
Essex High

VT Youth Orchestra – 4 years
VT Youth Philharmonia – 1 year
VT Youth Sinfonia – 2 years
VT Youth Strings – 1 year
Presto – 2 sessions

 

 

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

My aunt played violin and growing up I watched her play and begged my parents to let me play it as well.

 

What role does music play in your life?

On top of playing music every week with the VYO I grew up listening to all types of music being exposed to different genres by my parents. It has now been a source of relaxation and stress relief. Music is constantly playing in my house or as I do homework or have any free time.

 

What do you enjoy most about playing in an orchestra?

I love the camaraderie that is built playing in an orchestra and how we all come together to make one song.

 

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

I would tell younger musicians to stick with it even if it becomes difficult.

 

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

I think that on top of classical pieces it would be interesting for orchestra to perform arrangements of more modern pieces.

 

What is your favorite VYOA memory?

My favorite VYOA memory is the Reveille camp games and bonding with people from different sections outside of the violins.

 

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

I like to listen to pop, alternative, and rap music. This influences what I hear in orchestra because I think it makes me more aware of the pulse and beat played throughout the orchestra.

 

What other activities do you participate in? 

I play soccer and do Nordic skiing

 

What do you plan to study in college and how did you make your choice?

I am considering aerospace engineering I have always loved design and physics so I found that aerospace was a good mix between physics as well as design elements.

 

Congratulations Riley! It has been fun watching you & your fellow Essex string players grow up over the last 9 years!

Class of 2020 Senior Spotlight!

Ethan Hall, trombone
Mount Mansfield Union

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

 

 

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

In 5th grade I couldn’t decide between trumpet and trombone, and my band teacher wanted more trombones: she said I have “long arms and big lips” and I was suited to trombone. I still want to learn trumpet and saxophone at some point down the road.

 

What role does music play in your life?

Around 8th grade, I started to focus on music more as a central part of my life instead of just another thing I did sometimes. Singing in the chorus at NEMFA last year changed my life, and the friendships I have formed in VYO and at all of the festivals are some of the closest friends I have. There is something about making music with others that is much more special than anything else I do in school.

 

What was your biggest musical challenge & how did you overcome it?

My biggest challenge is an ongoing one, which is finding time to practice. Between working after school, trombone lessons, evening chorus rehearsals, theater, and oh yeah, homework, finding the time to pull out my instrument every day is really difficult. Some nights I get home late and I have to force myself to play even for just 20 minutes. As someone who loves to do as many different activities as possible, practicing consistently is really difficult.

 

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

Keep pushing yourself. When you have a lull in between concerts or auditions, it’s really easy to blow off practice. Keep practicing and improving, because it will pay off. Additionally, learn a second instrument! Learn to sing! Teaching myself piano and singing in school choirs have taught me so much more about music, and helped me make connections between different techniques and styles. The more time you spend with music, the better your musicianship will be.

 

What is your favorite VYOA memory?

My first year in the VYOA I was as a member of VYP my sophomore year. I knew maybe three people when I walked into my first rehearsal, and I had no idea what to expect. The friends I made during breaks in my first two days are some of the nicest people I know. On the Spain and Portugal trip, I got to spend a lot of time with some members of the VYOA who I hadn’t met before. Playing cards in a shady park our first day in Madrid with Anna, David, and Grant is definitely another favorite memory.

 

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

I love listening to music where the lyrics and harmonic composition equally influence the meaning of the song. I enjoy everything from Billy Joel and Elton John to Queen, Pentatonix, Ben Rector, and Watsky.

 

What other activities do you participate in?

I do band and chorus at school, I run the sound system for theater productions, and I work a few days a week at the afterschool program at a nearby elementary school.

 

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

My top choice school is Temple University, where I would major in Music Education and possibly do a second major in Composition.

 

If you know, what do you plan to study in college and how did you make your choice?

I’ve known since I started high school that I want to be a music teacher, and more recently (in the past year or so) I’ve discovered a love for writing music also.

 

Congratulations Ethan! We will miss your steadfast presence & positive attitude but look forward to seeing what your future contributions to the world of music education will bring!

Class of 2020 Senior Spotlight!

 

Abigail Grimm, cello
Burlington High

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ines Horozovic, cello
Essex High

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Grimm: I had played violin when I was younger and didn’t like it. When I was given the option of string lessons through my school, viola seemed too similar. Cello was unique and I liked how it was quite literally as tall as I was.

Horozovic: Everybody else chose the violin, and honestly, I wanted to sit!

 

What do you enjoy most about playing in an orchestra?

Horozovic: Getting to know the other cellists in my section is the best!

 

What role does music play in your life?

Grimm: I have met my greatest friends through music and it has been a platform for me to expand my skills, both musically and otherwise. Music has been a defining feature for more than half my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

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

Grimm: Do what you love and what brings you joy. The hard work you put in doesn’t stop, but it continues to pay off.

Horozovic: Don’t always be so serious! Sightread with friends for the fun of it, learn to laugh at yourself, and breathe.

 

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

Horozovic: Cello double concertos and more female composers!

Grimm: I would like to see an orchestral world where success is redefined and musicians are valued for what they uniquely bring to the music. Too often we are limited by predetermined standards and expectations, when in reality every person has worked incredibly hard to get where they are and has something to share.

 

What is your favorite VYOA memory?

Grimm: While I was touring in Spain & Portugal, we performed in a variety of venues. Some were large concert halls while others were intimate recital spaces. In Alba de Tormes, we performed in a cathedral with vast vaulted ceilings and a few rows of small wooden pews. While we played, the orchestra was on the same level as the audience. There was no stage or blinding lights. The audience was sitting 5 ft away from me and I could see their faces react to the music. Seeing a young boy’s face light up when recognizing the first few notes of a Jurassic Park medley is one of the best feelings I as a musician could have. The orchestra played the best we had and when we closed with Schubert’s 8th Symphony the energy in the room was vibrant and buzzing. That performance was one I will never forget.

Horozovic: Reveille 2018. My friends and I tried to convince Dr. Klemme to dance in the middle of one of our pieces during the concert. He juggled instead, which was no less amusing.

 

Apart from orchestral music, what other kinds of music do you listen to? 

Horozovic: I listen to a lot of rap but nothing comes close to matching my obsession with chamber music. Rachmaninoff’s Trio Elegiaque No. 1 was the first piece I really fell in love with, and many others have followed. Playing chamber music requires a high degree of adaptability and sensitivity, and I’m always left in awe by the sound a small group of musicians is able to achieve.

 

If you know, what do you plan to study in college and how did you make your choice?

Horozovic: Education and social policy. Anyone who knows me is well aware of my passion for student-centered learning and education reform!

 

Congratulations Abby & Ines! We have enjoyed having you as members of our orchestras for the past 5 years & thank you for your musical contributions to the VYOA!

Standing Ovation: Mike Noble

This June marked Mike Noble’s last VYOA Board meeting after nearly a decade of service to the organization, but don’t worry. We will still see Mike backstage at the Flynn on concert days helping Art unload the truck and set the stage. From helping tune VYS celli to leading a national search for our Executive Director, Mike has worn many hats at the VYOA, and we are so grateful for his support, leadership, and service.

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

A. I have been associated in one way or another with the VYOA since 2001 when my daughter started playing with the Vermont Youth Strings. David Gusakov was leading that group and he let me tune the cellos for him at the start of the rehearsals to shorten the preparation time. It was fun!

 

Q. Tell us about when, why and how you became a Board member.

A. I have been a Board member since 2010. John Pacht asked me to join the Board and, after a little hesitation, I did. Little did I know what a rewarding adventure it would be. I am proud to have led the search committee that found and hired Executive Director Rosina Cannizzaro.

 

Q. What’s the future of the VYOA? Where do you see the organization in 5-10 years?

A. I hope to see the VYOA’s access programs, such as Music Inspires, grow and grow. What a valuable addition to our community and the state! I also hope that the recognition and great reputation the VYOA has received at the national level within the Youth Orchestra Division of the League of American Orchestras continues.

 

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

A. Music provides goals, teaches discipline, and shows students that hard work can produce a wonderful sense of accomplishment and teamwork. I think that’s pretty valuable.