Music Student of the Month Header

The Mayo Performing Arts Center is thrilled to continue our Music Student of the Month (MSOM) program.  This student recognition program was recognized as “outstanding” by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and has honored hundreds of students over the last fifteen years.

Now in its 16th year, the Music Student of the Month program honors Morris County middle and high school students nominated by their music teacher, not only for their excellence as musicians but for the dedication, leadership, and commitment to their entire school community.  Each month teachers are asked to nominate an outstanding musician in a particular category including, Jazz Musicians, Brass Players, Wind Players, Percussionists, Guitarists, Pianists, Orchestra Members, Band Members etc.  Students are honored before a chosen performance where they receive recognition on stage and complimentary tickets to that evening’s show.  All students who are honored throughout the course of the MSOM season will have the opportunity to participate in a recital in June 2018 on stage at MPAC.  Press releases and pictures of the award recipients are also sent out to local papers monthly.

We will be handling all nominations through email. To nominate students, please have your MSOM representative email the following information each month:

  • Nominating instructor and contact information every month (including phone number, email address and school address)
  • Student’s name
  • Student’s grade level
  • Description (at least a paragraph) as to why they should be chosen

The 2018-2019 Music Student of the Month program is supported by The Walter F. and Alice Gorham Foundation, Inc.

2019 Music Students of the Month

March 2019 - Kodo Drummers of Japan

Students from Parsippany, Randolph, Morristown, Mendham, Succasunna, Boonton and Roxbury were honored as Mayo Performing Arts Center’s February Music Students of the Month – Outstanding Percussionists — prior to the Thursday, March 14 performance by the Kodo Drummers of Japan.

The students were recognized for their achievements on stage prior to the concert and had the opportunity to meet the performers.

Students were nominated by their teachers and were chosen by the Theatre’s Education Department based on their commitment to and excellence in the performing arts. The Theatre will honor a group of students every month throughout the season and invites area teachers to nominate students for this honor. Students will be invited to perform at a year-end recital in June.

The 2018-2019 Music Student of the Month program is supported by The Walter F. and Alice Gorham Foundation, Inc.

Music Students of the Month are: (bios provided by school)

Ethan Chen

Grade 12, Parsippany High School; Parsippany; Nominated by Gregory Dalakian

Ethan Chen has been a dedicated member of our instrumental music program at PHS since his freshman year. He has participated in Concert Band, Wind Ensemble, Marching Band, Jazz Ensemble, and Pit Orchestra. Ethan also served as our Drumline Section Leader and Snare Captain for the Marching Band this past year. Since his freshman year, Ethan has always been determined to become a true multi-percussionist, and through countless hours of dedicated practice and training he has achieved that goal. He is a great role model to his peers and always leads by example. Ethan is someone we can always count on whenever help is needed and always carries himself with pride, honor, and spirit in everything he does. It is my great pleasure to recommend Ethan Chen for the Outstanding Percussionist Student of the Month award.

Dylan Curnow

Grade 10, Randolph High School; Randolph; Nominated by Carmine Fusaro

Dylan Curnow is in the 10th grade at Randolph High School. Dylan has participated in the Randolph music program since the 4th grade starting with chorus, and joining band in 5th grade. Dylan chose percussion and has been with it ever since. In 7th grade, he joined the schools percussion ensemble and continues with it today. In the 9th grade, he joined the Randolph High Schools Marching Rams marching band. He started off in the front ensemble playing bells and vibes and in 10th grade moved up to the drumline playing Bass Drum 4. Outside of school, Dylan participates in local groups. He helps his father at the local firehouse, Randolph Chemical Engine Co. 2 with Christmas Tree sales, cleanups, and renovations. Dylan also participated with the local cub scouts for 5 years. In school, he participated in the Model UN Club for 2 years, won 3rd place at the Stem Junior Solar Sprint, participated in sports including baseball, soccer, and track and field for multiple years, and won the schools citizenship award in 5th grade.

Colin Elgarten

Grade 12, West Morris Mendham High School; Mendham; Nominated by Timothy Beadle

Colin is the hardest-working student I have ever taught. He has transformed himself from the student who struggled the most as a freshman to the leader and most accomplished percussionist in our program. Whether he is working on jazz ensemble, concert band, pit orchestra, percussion ensemble, youth orchestra, or marching band music, you can find Colin in the band room doggedly working through tough licks and difficult passages. Colin has been a ubiquitous presence in the practice room for the past four years and this has given him unending credibility as a leader in the percussion section and band as a whole. He was the natural choice for drum captain in the marching band this year and is almost a co-teacher in the percussion section of our advanced wind ensemble. I cannot recommend Colin Elgarten enough for outstanding percussionist! 

James Fourie

Grade 8, Mountain View School; Mendham; Nominated by Leigh Carpenter

In 5th grade, Jame Fourie started out as a trumpet player. He came in at every opportunity for extra help and to practice his instrument. He did very well and was my top trumpet of his grade. But he also longed to play the drums. I tried to discourage this as I had plenty enough percussionists, but James was persistent. He took up both instruments and I let him do both for a while hoping he would go back to the trumpet. But it was not to be. James really had it in his heart to play the percussion and there is not fighting the heart. I let him focus fully on his passion and I am glad I did. James has continued to improve as a percussionist. He has made unbelievable growth always challenging himself to get better and better. He asks for the difficult parts and challenges himself with mallet instruments for example, or the bass drum which the rest of the bucket solo drums rely on. James is a team player and works well with the other percussionists in our band; he shares his comaraderie and leadership as the drummers challenge each other to new heights. As a percussionist myself, I am inspired by James’ passion and drive for learning. I am fortunate to have such a wonderful musician and young man as my student.

 

Kent Hefele

Grade 12, Morristown High School; Morristown; Nominated by Michael Russo

I have known Kent for the last four years as his Band Director and I have enjoyed seeing him develop his skills as a musician at Morristown High School. He has been involved in many aspects of the Music Department and he has become a respected upperclassman to our younger members. Kent performs as a Percussionist in the Morristown HS Wind Ensemble and is a Section Leader in the Marching Band. He has also been a Drummer for the Morristown HS “Spectrum” Jazz Ensemble. Kent has also performed in a Side-By-Side Concert with the New Jersey Wind Symphony and represented Morristown HS in the Boys State Band sponsored by the American Legion. Kent possesses great desire and works very hard to achieve his goals. He is a very talented young man in many areas. His natural enthusiasm combined with his preparedness for his ensemble rehearsals make him a student I am eager to challenge in my teaching.

Jamie Kim

Grade 7, Eisenhower Middle School; Succasunna; Nominated by Shannon Perrone

Jamie Kim is a talented young percussionist! He works hard in band class, follows through with practice assignments, and has a positive outlook. At Eisenhower Middle School, Jamie also auditioned and placed into both of our extracurricular ensembles- Jazz Band and Honors Band. He’s willing to help out as needed throughout the section and plays an important role in our ensembles.

Jack Liska

Grade 8, John Hill School; Boonton; Nominated by Yvonne Manca

Jack has been a part of the JHS band since 4th grade. He is in the advanced band and has no trouble reading any rhythms. He plays in the harmony band outside of school (which is the town band). Jack has taken private lessons outside of school because he has a passion for percussion. Jack is well rounded on all percussion instruments and can play any part at first sight. He truly is an asset to the band.

Nicholas Morris

Grade 10, Roxbury High School; Roxbury; Nominated by Jeffrey Conrad

Nicholas is an outstanding leader in our program despite only being a sophomore. He auditioned successfully into the NJ Region 1 Symphonic Band on mallets and is an active member of both our marching bands, indoor percussion and is a frequent participant in our chamber music concerts. Nicholas is not only a hard worker, but is also kind and funny. He has earned the admiration and respect of his peers as well as our band staff. He leads by example; always giving his best and always working to be prepared at the highest level. He is a true asset to the Roxbury Band Program.

Daniel Pinyan

Grade 8, Randolph Middle School; Randolph; Nominated by Carmine Fusaro

Dan has developed a passion for the variety of percussion instruments and a respect for the level of skill it takes to play all of them. He officially started playing percussion at the age of 11 in fifth grade on the snare drum. After continuing in the middle school with the marimba, timpani, bass drum, chimes and auxiliary percussion, he was nominated for the North Jersey Area Band for timpani. Dan had always enjoyed playing timpani because of the wide range of the drums and the occasional solo. He thought it was a great experience to play with so many other dedicated musicians and meet other fellow percussionists. Along with playing the timpani, Dan also played the marimba for the world premiere of the percussion ensemble piece “Octet for Percussion” composed by Matthew Blood.   He is a well-rounded scholar and an active member of his community. He volunteers at his church as a vacation bible school counselor and is interested in many types of sports.

February 2019 - Shanghai Opera Symphony Orchestra

Students from Morristown, Madison, Randolph, Boonton, East Hanover, Mendham, Florham Park and Chester were honored as Mayo Performing Arts Center’s February Music Students of the Month – Outstanding Orchestra Members — prior to the Sunday, February 17 performance by the Shanghai Opera Symphony Orchestra.

The students were recognized for their achievements on stage prior to the concert and had the opportunity to meet the performers.

Students were nominated by their teachers and were chosen by the Theatre’s Education Department based on their commitment to and excellence in the performing arts. The Theatre will honor a group of students every month throughout the season and invites area teachers to nominate students for this honor. Students will be invited to perform at a year-end recital in June.

The 2018-2019 Music Student of the Month program is supported by The Walter F. and Alice Gorham Foundation, Inc.

Music Students of the Month are: (bios provided by school) Milind Bangalore Grade 9, Morristown High School; Morristown; Nominated by Norma Davis I am writing to nominate Milind Bangalore for Music Student of the Month – Outstanding Orchestra Member. Milind is a dedicated member of the Morristown High School Orchestra, where is serves as violin section leader. He devotes many hours to practicing and developing his musicianship, and he is highly involved in the music program at Morristown High School. Milind is in the 9th grade, and has been selected on violin for the Senior Region I High School Orchestra, which is a tremendous achievement. In addition to the MHS Orchestra, Milind is a member of the select Chamber Orchestra and plays first violin in his Camerata ensemble. He is also a dedicated member of the Delbarton Abbey Orchestra and the NJSO Youth Orchestras. Milind is an accomplished violinist who enjoys being challenged and strives for excellence in his musical endeavors. He is always enthusiastic, eager to learn, and shows exceptional commitment. Milind is an outstanding orchestra member who brings energy, artistry, and collaboration to his craft.

Zoe Bohensky
Grade 8, Madison Junior School; Madison; Nominated by Kathleen McCormick I would like to nominate my 8th grade orchestra student, Zoe Bohensky. She has been a violinist in my orchestra since 6th grade where she has consistently performed, is respectful of her teacher and peers and is someone who always gives her best effort. Last year she began rising to the top of the curve in her performance evaluations, the result of her independent practice at home as she does not receive private lessons. She earned principal positions within her sections and was recommended to take summer instruction to continue her rapid progress. This year, she has earned membership into my 8th grade honors octet which is a featured performing group for our concerts, graduation and community events. I am very proud of Zoe’s progress as a musician at the Madison Junior School and happy to give her the opportunity to be Music Student of the Month as my Outstanding Orchestra member.

Allison Connuck
Grade 9, Randolph High School; Randolph; Nominated by Eric Schaberg Allison is a 9th grade violinist in Randolph High School this school year.  She just successfully auditioned for Jr. Region 1 Orchestra and was accepted into the 1st violin section which was awarded based on a challenging audition against the best string players in Northern NJ from grades 7-9.  Allison also auditioned for the most advanced string ensemble and was accepted into “Arietta” back in October in Randolph High School. The reason Allison is being nominated is not just because of these accolades, but because she comes to every rehearsal and lesson with a smile and a positive attitude and uses every opportunity to further her knowledge for just the love of learning.  Allison will frequently come down during her lunch hour to spend a little extra practice time on her violin and she absorbs all of the information presented to her like a sponge.  I wish every Orchestra Director had a student like Allison in their orchestra, because they would look forward and enjoy their rehearsals like I do.  I think Allison has that passion for music that we hope all of our students would have and she is always very respectful to everyone she works with.

Patrick Calderon
Grade 8, John Hill School; Boonton; Nominated by Yvonnce Pescevich Patrick is an outstanding flute player in the JHS band. Patrick has been playing flute since 5th grade and has excelled in all areas of music. This year I put him on bass clarinet for a challenge and he plays it with such confidence and agility. He is a very enthusiastic student and always comes to his lessons prepared and ready to go. Patrick is an asset to the music program at JHS. He is also sings in the choir and is in drama club too.

Nicolas Gritz
Grade 10, Delbarton School; Morristown; Nominated by Robert Butts
Nicolas first came to my attention (as Conductor and Music Director of The Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey) in 2014.  He was named the youngest recipient of the Sylvia Plath Award for Musical Education, which my orchestra has sponsored since 2009.  Since then he has been an active contributor to the Orchestra.  Next year, he will perform a concerto with us.  Nicolas began his music career at age 5 and won his first competition as the first place winner of the Princeton Steinway Society at age 7. He has since won many competitions including the Cecilian Society, MEA High Honors, Golden Key, Crescendo, National League of Performing Arts, IMPACT, Morristown Rising Star and NJ Society of Arts and Letters. His music was featured on the Classical Radio Station WWFM.   In addition to having played piano in his school’s Jazz Band at Delbarton, over the last six years he has contributed his talents in the community and school at church services, fund raising events, open houses, concerts, department Honor Societies, and at local retirement communities. Nicolas uses the multiple musical scholarships he has won to hone his talents for his pure love of music and also to contribute to the community and bring the beauty of music to all.

Auden Gu
Grade 10, Hanover Park High School; East Hanover; Nominated by Helen Britez Auden is new to my program. Despite that, not only has he made himself at home, but he has made all the other students feel at home as well. He is our concert master (he’s quite accomplished and was just accepted into the North Jersey Region Orchestra). The other students and I rely on him to help troubleshoot fingerings, instrument repair, interpretation, etc. I often ask him to demonstrate for the class, and he can be depended on to run efficient sectionals without my supervision. Auden is active in other activities as well, and is just an all-around great guy. A pleasure to have in class.

Niki Kalathur
Grade 12, West Morris Mendham High School; Mendham; Nominated by Mary Daly Niki, a WMMHS senior, has also been in the WMMHS Orchestra for four years.  She has been an outstanding member of our Select Strings as well.  Nikita is also a fabulous section leader.  I rely on Nikita to assist in perfecting the viola in all aspects of musicianship.  I can rely on the viola section to know their material and perform with musical conviction.  Nikita is a team player.  She works toward the goal of improving not only her section but working with other string sections outside of class to make the selections the play together a cohesive musical experience.

Yoo Jin Kang
Grade 8, Robert R. Lazar Middle School; Montville; Nominated by Janice Scharf Yoo Jin is an outstanding young lady who enjoys performing on her instrument, violin.  She is a very dedicated orchestra student.  She has been playing for only 5 years and is already performing on the level as a college student.  But the real reason why I would like to nominate her because for the past 3 years I’ve taught her she has taken upon herself to help others around her. She helps her partner with their music, she would walk around beginning of class while I’m tuning and help tuning even if it’s the string bass she helps!  I truly feel this is part of her nature to do this in helping others, not just herself.  She has helped accompany with the orchestra for piano too.  This is my way of letting her know, I greatly appreciate what she does because it is way beyond what any student would ever do. I also credit her parents teaching her everyday values to help people in general. We do need more people like Yoo Jin.

Maeve Kelly
Grade 8, Mountain View Middle School; Mendham; Nominated by Bradley McMurray Maeve is the most enthusiastic orchestra student.  She is always excited to show my new pieces she starts and the progress she has made in the music we are working on.  She studies cello privately and consistently shows good practice and rehearsal technique.  Maeve switched to cello at the beginning of last year while continuing to play her previous instrument, the violin.  SH was able to catch up and exceed expectations while also continuing practice on her other instrument.

Patrick Martin
Grade 12, West Morris Mendham High School; Mendham; Nominated by Mary Daly Patrick is a well rounded performer who has participated in the WMMHS Orchestra and the Select Strings Ensemble for four years.  Patrick, a senior at Mendham High School, is our WMMHS Orchestra Concert Master.  While Patrick certainly has the skill-set for orchestral music, he also shines in his ability to perform jazz, blues, and other alternative music forms.  I introduced Dave Brubeck’s Rondo Ala Turk for strings arranged by Jeremy Cohen, to my Select Strings Ensemble.  Patrick came in for morning lessons and worked hard to get the rhythmic feel and phrasing of his demanding solo.  Our Select String Ensemble performed this selection as three venues and each time they were enthusiastically received.  In May of 2019, WMMHS Orchestra will be performing Louie Prima’s Sing Sing Sing.  Patrick will be our violin soloist.  I know he will do a fantastic job due to his passion and his commitment to excellence!

Matthew Mullen
Grade 8, Ridgedale Middle School; Florham Park; Nominated by Mike Leone Matt began his time at Ridgedale Middle School as a member of our String Orchestra in sixth grade.  It was quickly apparent that he had great musical talent.  Music came to him naturally, and it showed in how quickly he grasped concepts and improved on his instrument.  In the beginning of his eighth grade year, he decided to unveil his piano skills and joined our Jazz Ensemble as one of our pianists.  This even further bolstered his standing as one of Ridgedale’s most gifted musicians and invaluable contributors to our program.  Matt is not only a great musician, but he is also a respectful and kind student who is always polite to teachers, staff and other students.

Joanna Peters
Grade 8, Randolph Middle School; Randolph; Nominated by Genevieve Sallemi Joanna Peters is an 8th grade student at Randolph Middle School and has been playing the violin since she was four years old. She is a member of the Randolph Middle School 8thgrade orchestra and the select strings ensemble, Con Brio. She was selected to be the concertmaster of the NJ All State Intermediate Orchestra last year. A member of the New Jersey Youth Symphony, Joanna played at Stern Hall in Carnegie Hall. During the summer of 2017, she participated in the Summa Cum Laude International Music Festival in Vienna, where the New Jersey Youth Symphony was awarded first place. Along with the orchestra, she played at the Musikverein and the Muth in Vienna, as well as Bela Bartok National Concert Hall in Budapest. She is currently a member of the Mannes Prep program in New York City. Joanna loves music and aims to pursue a music-related career.  At school, Joanna goes above and beyond to support her peers in orchestra, giving help where needed and always showing a positive attitude. She has stayed after school and come into class during lunch to practice and to help others learn their orchestra parts and new techniques and she is a shining example of how music can make a difference in everyone’s life.

Ian Zhang
Grade 6, Black River Middle School; Chester; Nominated by Kenneth Piascik Ian Zhang is the definition of a well rounded, dedicated and talented musician.  Mr. Zhang joined our music department in the 6th grade and has continued to develop our program above and beyond.  His energy, positive attitude, helpfulness, leadership, and passion inspire us all.  Not only is Mr. Zhang in the Orchestra, but he also participates in our Honors Music, “Encore” Jazz Ensemble, Theory Program, and is a member of the trombone section in our Symphonic Band.  Where there is music in Black River, you will find Mr. Zhang close by.

2018 Music Students of the Month

December 2018 - Dave Koz and Friends

Pictured in Photo: Aaron Andino, Kavin Sawant, Alvaro Caravaca, Rachel Gontarski, Ethan Butka, Aren Hill, Richard Sevilla

Not Pictured: Ryder Jackson, Conor Lenahan, Jason Monachello

Students from Morristown, Kinnelon, Randolph, Budd Lake, New Vernon, Dover and Parsippany were honored as Mayo Performing Arts Center’s December Music Students of the Month – Outstanding Jazz Musicians — prior to the Monday, December 3 performance by Dave Koz & Friends.

The students were recognized for their achievements on stage prior to the concert and had the opportunity to meet Dave Koz.

Students were nominated by their teachers and were chosen by the Theatre’s Education Department based on their commitment to and excellence in the performing arts. The Theatre will honor a group of students every month throughout the season and invites area teachers to nominate students for this honor. Students will be invited to perform at a year-end recital in June.

The 2018-2019 Music Student of the Month program is supported by The Walter F. and Alice Gorham Foundation, Inc.

Music Students of the Month are: (bios provided by school)

Aaron Andino
Grade 8, Frelinghuysen Middle School; Morristown; Nominated by David Gallagher
Aaron is a truly gifted Trombone player. He has been an active member of our school band, jazz band, Wind Symphony since he was a 6th grader. This year he took on the added role of section leader for the wind symphony and plays first Trombone for the jazz band. Last year, as a 7th grader, Aaron played in the pit orchestra for the high school musical Anything Goes. Playing the professional pit music for any student is a difficult challenge, but as a 7th grader it is truly remarkable and shows how special Aaron’s gift is. This year Aaron has also been accepted to perform with the North Jersey Area Band in a special concert in January.

Ethan Butka
Grade 12, Kinnelon High School; Kinnelon; Nominated by Ryan Stroud
Ethan is an outstanding trombone player in our Wind Ensemble and has been a member of that group for all four years of high school. He also doubles as our Jazz Band piano player and this is where he really shines. He has an incredible ear for harmony and often uses his skills to help his peers in the AP Music Theory class. He is always asking for suggestions on new, exciting music to listen to and is always trying to stretch his learning about music.

Alvaro Caravaca
Grade 8, Mount Olive Middle School; Budd Lake; Nominated by Melany McQueeny
Alvaro has impressed me as a musician since he came to the middle school in sixth grade. Not only is he a contributing member of the 8th grade band program on trumpet, but he is also a fine pianist. Alvaro participates in our two after school groups – Jazz Band and Junior Winds. He is a true leader in his section and is often seen helping other students. Alvaro has been a member of North Jersey Area Band for the past two years and also became a member of the New Jersey Youth Symphony Jazz Orchestra this year. He also was a member of the high school’s marching band program this past season. Alvaro has also impressed our high school jazz band director who offered him a spot in the high school’s top jazz band as an eighth grader! He is a pleasure to teach and I can’t think of another student more deserving of this honor.

Rachel Gontarski
Grade 8, Randolph Middle School; Randolph; Nominated by Tom Davidson
Rachel plays baritone saxophone with the 8th Grade Band and is also in the auditioned jazz ensemble, in which she is a second year member. This past summer, Rachel attended the Rutgers Summer Jazz Institute at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. There, she had the opportunity to learn from leading Jazz musicians and professors. She performed and solo’d on both the baritone and soprano saxophones. Rachel is looking forward to high school where she will continue her concert band and jazz music studies.

Aren Hill
Grade 8, Harding Township School; New Vernon; Nominated by Tim Alworth
Aren is a spectacular middle school saxophonist and even better student. He is diligent, hard working, and talented. He always does his best and is willing to do anything to help the group. He has been in my jazz band and middle school band since fifth grade (a year early) and has been my go to jazz band soloist since he joined. He is never afraid to try new things and is a great improviser. He is also willing to help out the younger, more inexperienced players to help the group. Aren is a model student and jazz player.

Ryder Jackson
Grade 12, Dover High School; Dover; Nominated by James Butka
Ryder is a talented jazz musician. He was just recently accepted to play guitar in the NJ All-State Jazz Band. Ryder is involved in every performing group at Dover high. He plays guitar and also sings in the top vocal group, Sound Waves, at school. He was given the Outstanding Musicianship Award at the Berklee High School Jazz Festival for his guitar and vocal solos with the Dover Sound Waves group last February. This was at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Ryder was also awarded a full scholarship from the Seacoast Jazz Society to attend the Summer Youth Music School at the University of New Hampshire last summer. Ryder has performed in the school jazz band for four years. He has also been in the concert band and marching band for four years. He plays mallet and battery percussion in our competitive marching band. He also sings and plays guitar in the DHS Sound Waves. He even has had lead acting roles in the school musical productions of A Chorus Line, Back to the 80’s and Legally Blonde.

Conor Lenahan
Grade 12, Morristown High School; Morristown; Nominated by Michael D. Russo
Conor has spent the last four years developing his skills as a musician at Morristown High School. He has been involved in many aspects of the Music Department and he has become a respected upperclassman to our younger members. Conor performs on trumpet in the Morristown HS Wind Ensemble, is a Drum Major for the Marching Band and a member of the Trumpet Section in the Jazz Ensemble. He has also performed in the Solo and Small Ensemble Concert. Last year Conor successfully auditioned for the North Jersey Area Symphonic Band and the Region I High School Jazz Ensemble. Conor possess great desire and works very hard to achieve his goals. His natural enthusiasm combined with his preparedness for his ensemble rehearsals make him an excellent student.

Jason Monachello
Grade 12, Randolph High School; Randolph; Nominated by David Miller
Jason has shown a dedication to craft rarely seen. He came into the jazz program as a diehard rock guitarist. Over the ensuing years, he has made the study of jazz improvisation and phrasing a priority, and it shows. When I need someone to improvise at the drop of a hat, Jason is always game and does an excellent job. He has studied jazz outside of school, with both a private instructor and attendance at the Rutgers Summer Jazz Institute. I use him as an example of the growth one can make with persistence to a task. Jason is a student who personifies the idea of an Outstanding Jazz Musician.

Kavin Sawant
Grade 7, Brooklawn Middle School; Parsippany; Nominated by Joseph Stella
Kavin is a talented percussionist in the 7th grade band at Brooklawn Middle School. In addition to being a part of the concert band, he has played with the pit orchestra for the school musical and has been accepted by audition into the BMS jazz band on drum set. Although he is relatively new to jazz, he is quickly showing off his skills by learning different grooves with ease and determination. Aside from his musical talent, Kavin is also a very mature, kind, and respectful individual and is always ready to help others in any way possible.

Richard Sevilla
Grade 12, Parsippany High School; Parsippany; Nominated by Gregory Dalakian
Richard Sevilla has been a dedicated member of the PHS Jazz Ensemble for the past 3 years. During his sophomore year, when there was a need for a bass trombone in the band, Richard volunteered to learn the instrument so he could help out the ensemble. He did an excellent job learning this new instrument and helped fill out the trombone section. During the next two years, he auditioned on piano and has been rocking away on the keys ever since! He has grown exceptionally as a young jazz musician and has contributed his jazz skills to our entire music program by helping hold the rhythm section and the whole band together. In addition, he performed the professional level Gershwin piano parts in last year’s spring musical, Nice Work If You Can Get It, adding a great deal of style and musicianship to the show. He is always willing to lend his talents to our music program at PHS and in the community as well. I am proud to nominate Richard Sevilla as an “Outstanding Jazz Musician” for the MPAC Student of the Month.

November 2018 - The Canadian Brass

Students from Boonton, Kinnelon, Randolph, Mt. Olive, Parsippany, Butler, Roxbury, Mendham and  Chester were honored as Mayo Performing Arts Center’s November Music Students of the Month – Outstanding Brass Players — prior to the Monday, November 26 performance by The Canadian Brass.

The students were recognized for their achievements on stage prior to the concert and had the opportunity to meet the performers.

Students were nominated by their teachers and were chosen by the Theatre’s Education Department based on their commitment to and excellence in the performing arts. The Theatre will honor a group of students every month throughout the season and invites area teachers to nominate students for this honor. Students will be invited to perform at a year-end recital in June.

The 2018-2019 Music Student of the Month program is supported by The Walter F. and Alice Gorham Foundation, Inc.

Music Students of the Month are: (bios provided by school) Aaron Caso Grade 8, Rockaway Valley School; Boonton; Nominated by Nicole Covart Aaron’s musical journey began in 4th grade on the trombone, but he switched to trumpet at the beginning of 5th grade.  From that point on there was no stopping him.  He even accompanied his 6th grade classmates at their DARE graduation after learning the music by ear.  Last year, in 7th grade he participated in the North Jersey Junior Area Band and earned the 6th seat out of 12 trumpets, even though it was his first time auditioning for the honors band.  This year he is preparing for the NJAB audition and has also decided to try out for North Jersey Regions Band and Jazz honors band.  Currently, he performs in three community bands outside of school alongside high school students and adults.

Peter Davin
Grade 12, Kinnelon High School; Kinnelon; Nominated by Ryan Stroud Peter has been in both North Jersey Area Band and Region 1 Band since his Freshman year in High School.  His work ethic and dedication to playing his instrument is really second to none.  He’s constantly practicing and looking for ways to improve.  His talent isn’t limited to just the horn, either.  He’s a very good flute player and vocalists as well.  Peter has always brought an exceptional attitude to the classroom every day, and his efforts in class are greatly appreciated by his teachers and peers.  He will be missed when he moves on to college, but we know music will always hold an important part in his life!

Josh Freiheiter
Grade 8, Randolph Middle School; Randolph; Nominated by Tom Davidson Josh is an 8th grade honor roll student at Randolph Middle School.  He has been playing the trumpet for the past 4 years in the Randolph band program.  In addition to his involvement in concert band, he has been a member of the RMS Jazz Ensemble for the past two years.  He was nominated by the RMS Band Staff to participate in the North Jersey Jr. Area Band.  In addition to studying privately on the trumpet, he has also studied piano for the past seven years.

Mohammed Hamed
Grade 12, Mount Olive High School; Budd Lake; Nominated by Darrell Hendricks Mohammed Hamed is a senior tuba student at Mount Olive High School and is extremely active in our music program both on stage and off. Mohammed is a member of our Honors Wind Ensemble, Marching Band, Student director and member of Jazz Ensemble and contributes to several other ensembles and clubs at the School.

Jacob Jennings
Grade 8, John Hill School; Boonton; Nominated by Yvonne Manca Jacob has been playing trumpet since 4th grade.  He is exceptionally talented and is an asset to the music program.  Jacob is not only involved in the school band but plays the trumpet outside school in the town band Harmony.  He takes private lessons as well to enhance his musical ability.  Jacob shows up to band with great enthusiasm and never misses a practice.  He has great range and plays the first trumpet part in the band.

Nathan Lee
Grade 7, Brooklawn Middle School; Parsippany; Nominated by Joseph Stella Nathan is a focused and committed trumpet player who has been an asset to the Brooklawn Middle School Band Program since he arrived in 6th grade.  He is curious, read to learn, and always eager to volunteer for extra music responsibilities.  In addition to performing with the regular school band, Nathan has been a member of jazz band and pit band for the school musical.  He was selected to participate in the NJSMA Elementary Honors Band last year as a 6th grader, and is planning to audition for the Jr. Region Band this year.  As talented as Nathan is, he is also kind, helpful, and always willing to encourage his fellow trumpet players.  It is a pleasure and a privilege to work with this fine musician.

Andrew Lie
Grade 12, Parsippany High School; Parsippany; Nominated by Gregory Dalakian
Andrew has participated in every facet of our Music Department during his time at PHS.  Since his freshman year, he has always had an interest in helping the band in whatever are was needed.  He learned how to play the Mellophone for Marching Band to add more brass to the field.  Then he learned how to play the French Horn in Wind Ensemble when we were lacking that particular instrument. Since then, he has truly excelled as a brass player and has become a great horn player.  Andrew is always willing to go above and beyond to help the PHS Department and is very deserving of this honor.

Madison Malone
Grade 8, Richard Butler School; Butler; Nominated by Lyn Lowndes
Madison is in the eighth grade at the Richard Butler School and has played the trumpet for the last for years in our concert band and been in the jazz band for the last two.  Madison has brown as a musician, and has matured into a nice young adult.

Emma McDonald
Grade 12, Roxbury High School; Roxbury; Nominated by Jeffery Conrad
Emma is the principle trumpet of the Roxbury HS Honors Wind Symphony and has been since her Junior year.  She is a student leader in our marching band program and has been a soloist in the marching, concert and jazz venues.  She is extremely active within the Roxbury band program, but is also a member of the NJ Youth Symphony and was also a member of the Region I band.  This past summer, Emma participated in the Eastman School of Music Trumpet Symposium.  Simply put, Emma is a great young musician, and more importantly an amazing young woman and an important member of our band community.

Daniel Mills
Grade 12, Mendham High School; Mendham; Nominated by Tim Beadle
Dan Mills is of course a fin French horn player who has worked very hard to improve over the last four years.  He has carried our mellophone section in marching band, led our symphonic band and advanced wind ensemble, organized our brass ensemble and even played trumpet in our big band.  But what makes Dan even more valuable to the band program is his seemingly unending enthusiasm for music, music tech, and music performance.  Dan is always the heart and soul of the ensemble whether it is a few students reading quintets after school or a hundred standing on a marching field.

Patrick Rooney
Grade 8, Mountain View School; Mendham; Nominated by Leigh Carpenter
Patrick has such a passion for playing the trumpet.  His is proactive in asking for help when he has challenges in learning or understanding.  He looks up new things to learn and comes in to class asking to work on increasingly complex music.  He is an excellent peer leader.  He leads by example.  Patrick comes into class positively and inspires other students to want to learn.  He also leads by action.  When students get off task he takes it upon himself to help refocus them.  Patrick’s maturity to pursue what he values and to be a wonderful influence on his peers is admirable.  He is a wonderful young man of character deserves this honor.

Sydney Pappas
Grade 8, Black River Middle School; Chester; Nominated by Kenneth Piascik
Sydney Pappas is the definition of a well-rounded, dedicated, and talented musician.  Sydney joined the music program with her trumpet in 6th grade and has never stopped growing as a musician, person, and leader over the past three years.  Her journey includes performing in every regular and honors ensemble offered at the school, advancing to one of the highest members of the “Music Level Program” and mentoring our younger 6th grade students.  Her leadership skills also extend to her membership in the “Musician’s Round Table” where the top players in the band discuss how we can improve our instrumental program.    Her positive attitude radiates to the other players and inspires the band to perform at higher levels.

Ryan Parichuk
Grade 8, Mount Olive Middle School; Chester; Nominated by Melany McQueeny
Ryan is a member of the eighth grade band at Mount Olive Middle School.  Ryan learns his music right away and is always prepared for band and lessons.  There has never been a piece of music put in front of him that he cannot play.  Ryan also takes private lessons outside of school.  Ryan is also a member of our Jazz Band and Junior Winds group.  Both of these after-school ensembles are audition only.  He is also a member of our high school’s big band and jazz ensemble.  Ryan is also a model student who succeeds in his other academic classes as well and has been a member of North Jersey Area Band for two years.

Mitchell Polevoy
Grade 12, Kinnelon High School; Kinnelon; Nominated by Ryan Stroud
Mitchell has been in the North Jersey Area Band and Region I Band since his Freshman year.  Mitch studies privately on trombone and is an excellent player who’s been first chair since he came into Kinnelon High School.  Mitch is also a multi-instrumentalist, excelling on keyboards and drums as well as having a keen ear for recording and composting his own music.  Mitch is currently also enrolled in Kinnelon’s AP Music Theory class, and we’re lucky to witness his creativity and good sense of humor on a daily basis.

October 2018 - The Tenors

Students from Mendham, Pompton Plains, Boonton, Kinnelon, East Hanover, Parsippany, Budd Lake, Oak Ridge, Chester and Morristown were honored as Mayo Performing Arts Center’s October Music Students of the Month – Outstanding Vocalists — prior to the Wednesday, October 17 performance by The Tenors.

The students were recognized for their achievements on stage prior to the concert and had the opportunity to meet the performers.

Students were nominated by their teachers and were chosen by the Theatre’s Education Department based on their commitment to and excellence in the performing arts. The Theatre will honor a group of students every month throughout the season and invites area teachers to nominate students for this honor. Students will be invited to perform at a year-end recital in June.

Music Students of the Month are: (bios provided by school)

Saira Alam Grade 12, West Morris Mendham High School; Mendham; Nominated by Patricia Danner

Saira Alam is one of the most unique singers I have taught at Mendham High School.  She has a beautiful mezzo-soprano quality, and is particularly talented in the area of Jazz music.  She is the leader of our jazz club at Mendham High School and is a great role model for her peers.  She has a natural ability for improvisation, but also encourages her peers at all levels and helps them to feel comfortable trying new things.  This year, Saira was asked to be a member of our top Jazz Ensemble as a vocalist.  This is the first time we have had a vocalist as a permanent member of the ensemble.  She also has been part of New Jersey Honors Jazz Choir for two years, and participated in Rider University’s Contemporary Vocal Camp this summer.  Outside of the Jazz world, Saira has also found much success in our traditional choral programs at Mendham High School, as well as Morris Area Honor Choir, Region Choir, and All-State Choir.  Saira is an outstanding music student, and a leader in all of our ensembles

Mollie Anger Grade 7, Pequannock Valley Middle School; Pompton Plains; Nominated by Janelle Heise

Mollie goes above and beyond as a singer. She is an excellent leader in our school choir, but goes further as a member of the church choir, and as a cast member of our school musicals. She also tries out for whatever special choirs she can. She makes the time to meet with me before or after school to work on scales and her audition solos. Last year Mollie had the best audition scores for her voice part for both the Morris Area Middle School Choir and New Jersey Elementary Honor Choir. In addition to that, Mollie is friendly and an excellent student.

Ava Capetta Grade 8, Rockaway Valley School; Boonton; Nominated by Sara Bartel

Ava has a true talent for music. She has earned solos in the Chorus concerts the past couple of years. As well as a major role in our school musicals and is a leader within the ensembles. She works hard in practices to become a better vocalist. In our small school setting, she truly shines and I sincerely hope you will consider her for this honor.

Caitlin Chien  Grade 12, Kinnelon High School; Kinnelon; Nominated by Charles Linnell

Caitlin is in her fourth year as a member of the KHS Advanced Choir, the Chamber Singers. Since her first days in high school choir, she has always set herself apart as a leader with consistently excellent choral skills. That leadership was formalized when she was elected to the choir council as a junior (which rarely occurs) and again as a senior. Caitlin was also recently appointed a co-director of the student-directed contemporary acapella ensemble at Kinnelon High School.

Cassidy Davis  Grade 8, John Hill School; Boonton; Nominated by Yvonne Manca

Cassidy has been part of the school choir for a few years. She has auditioned for solos and has received numerous solos throughout her years at John Hill. Cassidy loves to sing and it is evident to those around her. She has also sung in Gateway to the Arts and has been an asset to the group. She never misses practices and always comes to sing with a smile on her face.

Isabella Firooznia  Grade 8, Ridgedale Middle School; Boonton; Nominated by Sondra Paulson

In addition to being a consistent and talented member of both the Ridgedale Middle School Chorus and Select Choir, Isabella has a fantastic attitude towards her peers and teachers.  Isabella had been taking piano lessons for 4 years, and has been taking voice lessons for over a year now.  She has always been interested in performing, and loves being on stage, singing and acting.  She has twice taken acting and improv lessons at the Papermill Playhous, as well as acting classes at the Mayo Performing Arts Center this past summer. She is also a member of the RMS chorus and select choir. While she was at Brooklake, Isabella took part in the productions of “The Little Mermaid” (she was one of Ariel’s sisters), “Peter Pan” (Indian Princess), and “The Wizard of Oz” (Wicked Witch). She has participated in all of the productions at Ridgedale, her most recent role being Sebastian in “The Little Mermaid”. She is currently rehearsing for the drama, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, and was cast as Snow White. Isabella also took part in a voice competition at the Calderone School of Music where she placed second.

Kevin Gilroy Grade 11, Hanover Park High School; East Hanover; Nominated by Helen Ferrante de Britez

Kevin has sung Baritone in my choirs for 3 years, but has recently decided to pursue a career as a Countertenor. This summer he started immersing himself in Mezzo Soprano arias (pants roles) in addition to his impeccable work as a baritone. He is a 3-year member of the Concert Choir, Chamber Singers, Atlantic City Crew (a super-select pop a cappella group), and Men’s Choir. He is also a 2-year cast member in our Spring Musicals. He is an accomplished dancer as well. He currently serves as Choir Secretary and Baritone Section Leader, but will actually sing Alto in one of our groups this year. This is an incredibly brave endeavor by a wonderfully gifted musician. 

Avery Harrington  Grade 8, Brooklawn Middle School; Parsippany; Nominated by Tiffany Schifano

Avery is one of the most talented vocalists that I have had the pleasure of teaching in my fifteen years in the classroom. She has told me numerous times that music is her life and her love of music comes across when she sings. In addition to being an accomplished vocalist, she plays the flute, guitar, and piano. Avery was accepted into NJ Region Choir this past year as soprano 1. She was Ariel in our school production of The Little Mermaid and gave such an inspiring performance of the iconic role. Avery is also a singer songwriter and often performs her original songs at the school talent shows. Even though Avery is immensely talented, she is a team player and is motivating and respectful towards her peers.

Catherine Herbes  Grade 8, Mendham Township Middle School; Mendham; Nominated by Ronald Bergamotto

Catherine has worked hard and devoted her talents at Mendham Township Middle School since the 5th grade. While at MTMS she has been active in chorus, string orchestra and composer’s club. Catherine has participated in over a dozen musicals in both principal role and cast member at Mendham as well as local community. Each and every year at Mendham Township Middle School, Catherine was awarded solos in both the winter and spring concerts. Her performance on and off the state has been exemplary. It has been an honor and pleasure to work with a student of this caliber.

Kayla Marvin  Grade 8, Mt Olive Middle School; Budd Lake; Nominated by Joanna Scarangello

Kayla is the most passionate, conscientious student that I have ever taught.  She has reached high levels of achievement in her singing, being accepted in to County, Region, All State and All Eastern Honor Choirs in the last two years of her middle school singing career.  Kayla’s enthusiasm is contagious as she pushes her fellow classmates to achieve higher every day in choir class.  She recently auditioned for the ACDA National Honor Choir and continues to push herself to new challenges and heights.  Kayla is a strong leader, supportive classmate, and possesses a beautiful gift in her singing voice.

Whitney McDonnell  Grade 11, Morristown Beard School; Morristown; Nominated by Ben Krauss

Whitney is an exemplary member of the choral program at Morristown-Beard School. She is a strong member of our Soprano section who not only sings beautifully, but is also an excellent musician. The kindness she shows outside of the classroom is evident inside as well, as she is always willing to help out her less experienced section mates with their music. Whitney is active in every aspect of singing life at our school, be it our curricular chorus, our student-run acapella group, or our musical theatre program.

Casey Obaytek  Grade 12, Jefferson Township High School; Oak Ridge; Nominated by Chad Flynn

Casey has a great Tenor singing voice and a wonderful personality for singing. He is always smiling and has a great attitude about how he leads himself during rehearsals. Case leads by example during class and during after-school rehearsals. He is President of the Chamber Choir and a member of the Madrigal Singers, Chamber Choir, and Men’s Ensemble. In addition to vocal ensembles, Casey was a lead role in last year’s musical and this year’s fall drama.

Lars Olsen  Grade 11, West Morris Central School; Chester; Nominated by Mark Stingle

Lars Olsen has been a stalwart in the West Morris Central choral program for the past 2 years and will continue to be so for the next two years.  Besides his obvious skill, Lars has been involved in many honors groups at all levels – Morris Area Honors Choir (2), Region 1 Honors Choir (2), All-State Choir (2), where is currently the 9th ranked Tenor 2 this year in NJ.  He has also been involved in acapella and SATB choirs every year since being at WMC.  As an actor, Lars was voted best Actor in a drama last year for the FOXY Awards and he has been a featured role as Donnal in West Morris Central’s production of The Pirate Queen in 2018.  Besides all of the accolades, Lars is a brilliant young musician with a passion to perform at every turn 

Emma Stark  Grade 8, Black River Middle School; Chester; Nominated by Kathleen Vespignani

Emma has been a member of the chorus at Black River for three years, as well as a member of our Select Chorus since the sixth grade. As this is her third year in both vocal ensembles, I have seen Emma blossom into a magnificent musician and performer. Emma is also often a soloist and is a part of the Drama Club’s musicals each year. She comes to rehearsals and performances with the utmost professionalism, enthusiasm, and respect for the art. Emma continues her musical endeavors outside of school, as well. She takes both voice and guitar lessons and performs at community venues, including coffee houses and the 4-H Fair. Emma truly exemplifies what a great musician is!

March/April 2018 - Itzhak Perlman

Pictured in photo:
Jonathan DeSimone -Grade 8, Madison Junior School; Madison
Lauren Spencer – Grade 12, Randolph High School; Randolph
Jessica Vogel -Grade 11, Morristown High School; Morristown

Students from Randolph, Morristown, Florham Park and Madison were honored as Mayo Performing Arts Center’s Music Students of the Month – Outstanding Violinists — prior to the Saturday, April 21 performance by Itzhak Perlman.

The students were recognized for their achievements on stage prior to the concert.

Students were nominated by their teachers and were chosen by the Theatre’s Education Department based on their commitment to and excellence in the performing arts. The Theatre will honor a group of students every month throughout the season and invites area teachers to nominate students for this honor. Students will be invited to perform at a year-end recital in June.

The 2017-2018 Music Student of the Month program is supported by The Walter F. and Alice Gorham Foundation, Inc.

Music Students of the Month are: (bios provided by school)

Emma Daly
Grade 7, Ridgedale Middle School; Florham Park; Nominated by Michael Leone
Emma began her violin experience at our middle school as in incoming sixth grader who was quiet, understated, and finding herself.  In the span of a year she has become a confident leader in our ensemble who leads by example.  She is always willing to help others, and she has some of the best manners that I’ve seen in a middle school student.  Her dedication to being prepared and to being a strong contributor to our strings program sets her apart from others, as well as strengthens those around her.

Jonathan DeSimone
Grade 8, Madison Junior School; Madison; Nominated by Kathleen McCormick
Every orchestra has their concertmaster, or soloist who has great technical ability but without solid, accomplished section members, there would be no orchestra.  This is where Jonathan has excelled the past three years I have known him.  He is one of my most dedicated orchestra members, responsibly attending weekly lessons, learning whichever violin part I need him to perform and even playing percussion with precise rhythmic accuracy at our last concert.  Because of his hard work, Jonathan was able to improve his playing, earning him a spot in the 8th grade honors chamber ensemble where he will be featured at our graduation ceremony.  Jonathan also volunteers at after school rehearsals, helping younger 5th grade students learn their orchestra music.

Lauren Spencer
Grade 12, Randolph High School; Randolph; Nominated by Eric Schaberg
Lauren is currently the concertmaster of the Chamber String Orchestra and the Assistant Concert Master of the Arietta String Ensemble.  She is a wonderful role model for the younger violinists in orchestra.  She is always on time to rehearsal and give the tuning pitch in the beginning of class.  Lauren is always prepared on her orchestra repertoire and is comfortable in her leadership role in the Randolph High School Orchestra program.  She will be performing in the Bruch Violin Concerto later this spring with the Arietta Ensemble which a great way to finish her High School Orchestra experiences.

Jessica Vogel
Grade 11, Morristown High School; Morristown; Nominated by Norma Davis
Jessica Vogel is a dedicated member of the Morristown High School Orchestra, where she serves as section leader for the first violins.  She also performs with the MHS Chamber Orchestra, the select Camerata ensemble, and the Pit Orchestra for the school musical.  She has performed in the pit orchestra at Frelinghuysen Middle School, and is a valuable member of the Delbarton Abbey Orchestra.  Jessica was selected for the NJSMA HS Region I Orchestra for the past two years, and for the NJSMA JHS Region I Orchestra during her freshman year.  She performed with the NJMEA Honors Chamber Orchestra last spring.  Jessica has been passionate about the violin since elementary school; her beautiful artistry, enthusiasm, and expressiveness through music are inspiring.  She enjoys sharing her music, performing at numerous school and community venues, such as Care One, the Intergenerational Prom, Fosterfields, Martin Luther King Day, the Morris County Courthouse, and the Solo and Small Ensemble Concert.

PAST MSOM Winners

December 2017 - Linda Eder

Front row (L-R): Natalie Paitchel, Molly McCarthy, Nicole Narvaez, Ava Chrusciel, Sinclair Stevens, Back row: Caroline Nieto, Nofia Jarbo, Linda Eder (performer), Grace Sittig
View Press Release »

January 2018 - The Birdland All-stars Performance

View Press Release »

Our Mission

Mayo Performing Arts Center, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, presents a wide range of programs that entertain, enrich, and educate the diverse population of the region and enhance the economic vitality of Northern New Jersey.

MPAC is grateful to the following donors whose major support helps to sustain the general operating needs of our organization:

Njca Logo Statement Full Color Black Discover Jersey Arts
Live Chat
By continuing to browse, you consent to our use of cookies. To know more, please refer to our Privacy Policy. Hide