Class of 2020 Senior Spotlight!

Anna Kalfus, percussion
Colchester High

VT Youth Orchestra – 2 years
VT Youth Philharmonia – 4 years

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

I started playing both piano and violin when I was eight years old. However, in fifth grade I joined my school’s band on saxophone and about halfway through the year I switched to percussion. I love getting to play a variety of instruments; it keeps me on my toes. Percussion also requires a precision that I really enjoy and it adds color to the pieces. Imagine the 1812 Overture without percussion!

 

What role does music play in your life?

Music has always been there for me, especially when I am feeling down. There is nothing like listening to Dvorak’s New World Symphony or Elgar’s Enigma Variation: GRS to cheer you up. There will always be a piece of music that speaks to whatever mood you are in or whatever is on your mind. That is the true beauty of music, it is meant for everyone. Music has also taught me discipline through practicing and performing. The skills I’ve learned have helped me persevere in school and sports. Music has also taught me how to make the most of all experiences.

 

What do you enjoy most about playing in an orchestra?

I love how elegant yet powerful orchestral pieces are and how each note has a purpose, especially for percussion. There are pieces that have a single stroke on the timpani that is pianississimo and while it seems like it is barely heard, it feels empty when it is not there.

 

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

I enjoy listening to a variety of music but my favorites would include Broadway tunes and movie soundtracks. The percussion is always so interesting especially when the music is written by John Williams. I also like the band Panic At The Disco. Who isn’t amazed by a lead singer who can rock the drumset and then do a backflip off of them? I feel that my preference in music has allowed me to develop a better appreciation for intricate harmonies and melodies in all styles of music.

 

What other activities do you participate in?

I dance on my school’s Varsity Dance Team as well as play tennis and golf. I play in my school’s Wind Ensemble and I also sing in a treble choir at my school. I have played in the pit for a couple of my school’s musicals and I volunteer with the Lyric Theatre Company. I also work for the Vermont Lake Monsters and I am an intern for the Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival, a position I got through being involved with the VYOA.

 

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

I will be attending the University of Vermont next year and I am planning on majoring in Business Administration. I’ve always liked being organized (I know, uncommon for a percussionist) and working with others. I am also very excited to continue playing percussion at UVM and beyond.

 

Congratulations Anna! Thank you for your leadership & willingness to schlep instruments around over the past 6 years!

Class of 2020 Senior Spotlight!

Emma Chadwick, violin
Essex High

 

VT Youth Orchestra – 3 years
VT Youth Philharmonia – 3 years
VT Youth Sinfonia – 1 year
VT Youth Strings – 2 years
Presto – 4 sessions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

I started the violin because my older sister played it. I have continued to stick with it because of the amount of intricacy and detail that you can put into practicing. It is a great musical outlet.

 

What role does music play in your life?

Music is a large part of my life. Orchestra has allowed me to not only grow as a musician but has let me meet so many new people. Opportunities like the international tour and All-States wouldn’t have happened without music. Music is a large part of my personal life as well: bonding with friends, to be able to create, and just enjoying music.

 

What do you enjoy most about playing in an orchestra?

I mainly like hanging out with the people at orchestra but when I’m not on break, I like hearing about the history and intentions of the composer. Without lyrics, purpose can be hard to distinguish, so background helps me connect with the music and enjoy its emotional depth.

 

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

Find a way to enjoy the music that you are playing. Play songs that you like to listen to, learn about the intent behind the music, or talk about your favorite music with friends. At the end of the day, music is what you make of it. Having a passion for music in any form makes practicing and the long rehearsals worth it.

 

What is your favorite VYOA memory?

One of my favorite moments was playing the Schubert’s Unfinished  Symphony for the last time on the Spain/Portugal tour. That trip was an amazing experience with many fun memories, but playing this beautiful piece with that group and conductor for the last time was very heartwarming and bittersweet.

 

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 mainly indie and bedroom pop music. While I enjoy a very wide range of music, I love the sound, lyrics, and distinct mood of this genre. Orchestral music has created a strong appreciation in me for the little details that artists put into their works that make something beautiful. Whether it be a harmony line or a special drum beat, it adds so much fun and intention to the song.

 

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

MIT

 

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

Aerospace Engineering

 

Congratulations Emma! It has been delightful to watch you grow up over the past 10 years & we can’t wait to see what amazing things your future holds!

Class of 2020 Senior Spotlight!

Adison Granger, cello
Winooski High

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

In the fifth grade, we were given the opportunity to learn how to play an instrument. Most people were choosing the violin, but I personally enjoyed the sound of the cello.

 

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

As a full-time early college student, it is very difficult to find the time to practice. However, I make sure to get my homework done as soon as possible so I am able to get in at least twenty minutes of practice time.

 

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

Enjoy the instrument that you are playing and be sure to get private lessons early on.

 

What is your favorite VYOA memory?

I have always enjoyed participating in the school tours. I love seeing the faces on all the young children when they recognize a song that they enjoy or when they show their enthusiasm for wanting to learn a new instrument.

 

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 anything and everything, but some of my favorite genres are death metal, funk, hardcore punk, progressive rock, new wave, and synthpop. Being able to appreciate all kinds of music allows you to expand your horizons and better yourself as a musician.

 

What other activities do you participate in?

For the past few years, I have participated in Upward Bound. It is a program for first-generation college students to help provide us with the knowledge and experience we need to prepare for college.

 

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

Saint Michael’s College

 

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

I plan on majoring in computer information systems and minoring in music. Through Upward Bound, I was given the opportunity to participate in a class called Teaching Through Technology. This is where I realized that I enjoy working with computers. I am currently taking an intro to computer science class at the Community College of Vermont.

 

Congratulations Adison! You have been a wonderful mentor to our younger string students and we will miss your generous spirit.

Class of 2020 Senior Spotlight!

Aidan Palmer, viola
Homeschool

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

 

 

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

I actually began learning violin before switching to Viola four years ago. I first heard a Viola during a studio recital (one of my teachers’ students played the Viola), and I fell in love with the deepness of the C string. I was extremely intrigued, and that was pretty much all it took for me to switch. I love the deep, rich, warm tone of the Viola.

What role does music play in your life?      

I spend quite a bit of time listening to music. I love classical music, as well as folk and traditional music from around the world. I love bringing music to life in the VYO and in my own playing.

What do you enjoy most about playing in an orchestra?  

I love that in an orchestra, many parts together become beautiful. I love getting new music and listening to how all the parts fit together- how different the melody sounds when you add harmony and rhythmic background, and how much more rich the music is with many layers. It is always so amazing to hear how different one part sounds with the entire ensemble. I also just love playing with a group of people who are also passionate about music.

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

The biggest piece of advice I would give for younger musicians is to make a goal and believe in yourself. Find a goal that you want to achieve, whether it’s a piece of music or an ensemble you want to play in (or another goal), and as you practice and work hard to reach it, remember that you can do it! Believe that you absolutely can get there, no matter how long it takes you.

What is your favorite VYOA memory?

My favorite VYOA memory is definitely when we toured Spain and Portugal last summer. The entire experience- visiting completely different countries, trying to communicate with the locals (even though I didn’t know much Spanish and no Portuguese) which was often laughable, among many other things- was amazing. I got to know so many VYO musicians that I hadn’t talked to before and formed new friendships. We had a lot of fun singing on the bus after our concerts.

Playing concerts in front of people who didn’t even know where Vermont is was also pretty surreal. I loved bringing our passion for playing music to other countries!

What other activities do you participate in?          

I participate in Nordic Skiing in the winter and rowing in the fall and spring. Beyond that, I love spending time outside- going for hikes with my dog, walking in the woods, biking, and tracking wildlife. I also enjoy art and learning about wildlife.

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

Allegheny College

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

I plan to study mainly Biology and do a minor in Music. I love wildlife, plants, and human anatomy and am planning to pursue these interests through biology. I’ve really enjoyed playing the Viola for many years and want to continue my love of music in college as well.

 

Congratulations Aidan! Your ever-present smile and calming influence will be greatly missed!

VT Youth Orchestra Association Names Music Director

The Vermont Youth Orchestra Association (VYOA) has named Mark Alpizar, D.M.A., Cleveland, OH, to the position of music director, effective July 1, 2020. Alpizar succeeds Dr. Benjamin Klemme, who served as music director from 2017-2019 before leaving for a faculty music position at Gordon College. Dr. Edward Cumming, a member of the faculty at the Hartt School in Hartford, CT, serves as interim Vermont Youth Orchestra conductor for the 2019-2020 season while the organization conducted a national search.

Southern California native, Mark Alpizar, has enjoyed a multifaceted career as a conductor, clarinetist, and music educator throughout the United States. He is currently the assistant conductor of the Cleveland Pops Orchestra, and instrumental faculty at Lake Erie
College in Painesville, Ohio.

Prior to his move to Northeast Ohio, Alpizar was the assistant conductor of the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra, the National Repertory Orchestra, and the American Youth Symphony Orchestra. Committed to music education, Alpizar was the music director of the Four Seasons Youth Orchestra in Orange County for seven seasons where he commissioned over a dozen new works, toured internationally, and conducted side-by-side performances with the
Dana Point Symphony.

“We are excited to welcome Mark and his family to Vermont and to our community,” said Lisa Shelkrot, chair, VYOA Board of Directors. “His experience and proven success with the Four Seasons Youth Orchestra in Orange County for seven seasons made him an ideal candidate. It became all the more apparent during his time here meeting with VYOA constituents and engaging with our young musicians, that he was the music director to lead us into our next chapter.”

“I am thrilled to join the artistic team of the established and progressive Vermont Youth Orchestra Association,” Alpizar said. “It will be a dream-come-true to collaborate with VYOA’s talented young musicians as we provide meaningful and relevant musical offerings to Burlington and beyond. I look forward to helming this great orchestra through its next chapter of national and international prominence.”

Alpizar received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Arizona State University where he created the Orchestra’s first video game concert, conducted an award-winning production of Poulenc’s Les Mamelles de Tirésias, studied conducting with Jeffery Meyer and Tito Muñoz, and studied clarinet with Robert Spring and Joshua T. Gardner. He holds a masters degree and bachelors degrees from California State University, Long Beach’s Bob Cole Conservatory of Music and was proud to return to his alma mater as conducting faculty in 2019.

For over 50 years the Vermont Youth Orchestra Association (VYOA) has been a leader in shaping our region’s young musicians. This season, over 300 musicians in grades 1 – 12 represent 60 elementary, middle, and high schools and hail from 41 towns from across Vermont and neighboring states. With a commitment to children of all ages, the VYOA offers a wide range of programming; this includes three orchestras, three training programs for beginning to intermediate strings, winds, and brass students, a percussion ensemble, a private lesson program,
school partnerships and community initiatives, summer camps, and an early childhood concert series. You can hear VYOA musicians of all ages perform over 20 concerts, recitals, and community engagement presentations throughout the 2019-2020 season.

Class of 2020 Senior Spotlight!

Rowan Bauman Swain, viola
Champlain Valley Union

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How did you choose your instrument over all of the others?
I had been playing violin for a few years already when I had the chance to pick a new instrument to play in my elementary school’s orchestra. I asked my sister’s cello teacher if she would be willing to get me started with a few lessons, and she balked–“No no no! You should play viola.” All right then, I thought; I’m pretty sure I know what that is. And that was that. I played both violin and viola for many years and then switched all the way over to alto clef in high school, mostly because of my love for the role of viola in chamber music.

 

What role does music play in your life?
Music is an area of my education for sure, and some days, practicing feels like just another homework assignment. But more often, classes, concerts, rehearsals are social and emotional highlights for me, excuses to enjoy the company of my closest friends. On a personal, spiritual level, the music I get to study is a real source of inspiration and relief. All the nuance of emotion and human experience which is contained in great pieces helps me to understand myself and feel less alone.

 

What do you enjoy most about playing in an orchestra?
The feeling of being in the middle of a wash of sound!

 

What was your biggest musical challenge & how did you overcome it?
Like any skill-building activity, playing an instrument is a never-ending progression of frustration, persistence, and “OMG I got it!” I can still remember how I almost rage-quit in kindergarten when I could never remember the bowings in “Lightly Row.” But I guess I got through (or around) it, probably by taking a nap, and this pattern has more or less been repeating ever since.

 

What advice would you give to younger music students as they strive to build their skills?
I would say that inspiration and habit are equally important to maintain. If you know that music feeds your soul, that’s fantastic, but sheer excitement isn’t going to get you out of bed when it’s dark and chilly to practice Kreutzer at 6 am. Don’t beat yourself up if it’s not always fun–it’s okay to struggle, puzzle through, and “fill up the tank” for later.

 

What kinds of changes would you like to see in the orchestral world?
If we can’t get a woman president, can we at least have a few more women conductors?

 

What is your favorite VYOA memory?
I always loved the feeling of team spirit that would build up over the course of concert days at the Flynn. Everyone is extra focused during the dress rehearsals, because the finish line is in sight; there’s usually a pep talk from the conductor; and then, you get to stroll Church Street with your friends dressed in full funeral attire.

 

Apart from orchestral music, what other kinds of music do you listen to? Do other genres influence what you hear in orchestral music?
I really enjoy listening to opera. Right now I’m obsessed with Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro; my ride-or-die favorite is Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin.

 

What other activities do you participate in?
I enjoy crossword puzzles, reading just about anything except my actual English homework, and rewatching Parks and Recreation.

 

What college or university do you hope to attend next year?
Either Rice University Shepherd School of Music or Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.

 

What do you plan to study in college and how did you make your choice?
I plan to major in viola performance, because it seems extremely lucrative.

 

Congratulations Rowan! It has been a treat to watch you grow & mature over the years!

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!