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Two Parsippany Students Named Music Students of the Month

PARSIPPANY — Students from Parsippany, Randolph, Morristown, Kinnelon, Mendham, Boonton, New Vernon, and Roxbury were honored as Mayo Performing Arts Center’s Music Students of the Month – Outstanding Percussionists — prior to the Saturday, January 20 performance by Recycled Percussion.

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

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:

Romelo (RJ) Paguntalan
Grade 11, Parsippany High School; Parsippany; Nominated by Gregory Dalakian

RJ Paguntalan 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. He has also served as Marching Bass Drum captain for the past two years. RJ has grown immensely as a percussionist since entering high school. He is a great role model for his peers and always helps younger members improve their skills. He is always willing to volunteer whenever we need an extra percussionist on concert pieces or to help out the PHS Bands in any way. RJ is a highly motivated student who gives selflessly of his time and talents, and would be very deserving of this honor.

Rahul Nair
Grade 7, Brooklawn Middle School; Parsippany; Nominated by Joseph Stella

Rahul is a percussionist in our seventh grade band and has consistently been one of the strongest members of the percussion section since he started middle school last year. He has done very well learning the many types of percussion instruments including the mallet instruments. He has also successfully auditioned to play the drum set in our jazz band this year. I believe Rahul would be a fitting recipient of the Outstanding Percussionist recognition.

Ryan Borinski
Grade 8, Randolph Middle School; Randolph; Nominated by Tom Davidson

Ryan Borinski started out playing viola in fourth grade and switched to percussion in fifth grade.  Once at Randolph Middle School, he continued with percussion with great enthusiasm and success.  During sixth grade, Ryan was the only sixth grade student invited to join the RMS Percussion Ensemble, an ensemble typically consisting of seventh & eighth grade percussionists. Ryan has been accepted into honor bands including the North Jersey School Music Association, Elementary honors Band in sixth grade, NJSMA J. Region Band in seventh grade, and North Jersey Jr. Area Band in eighth grade.  At Randolph Middle School, Ryan is in his third  year of Percussion Ensemble, and in his first year of Jazz Ensemble. He has an excellent work ethic which will help him continue to succeed as a percussionist in the Randolph band program and in his other musical endeavors.

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

Joseph has  been involved in all aspects of the Band Program and he has become a respected upperclassmen in the Music Department. Joseph is the Principal Percussionist in the Morristown HS Wind Ensemble, a Hornist in the MHS Symphonic Band and a Section Leader for the Marching band. He is a drummer with the Spectrum Jazz Ensemble and will also be performing in the Pit Orchestra. He also performs with the Mantra Youth Percussion Ensemble, the Rutgers Youth Percussion Ensemble and the Delbarton School Abbey Orchestra.  Joseph plans to study music in college.

Braeden Carroll
Grade 8, Pearl R. Miller Middle School; Kinnelon; Nominated by Brian Scanlon

Braeden has constantly demonstrated the desire to be a positive force in our school ensembles. This is evident in his participating in our audition only honor band, called A.M. Band. This audition only group is comprised of the best sixth through eighth grade students in our school music program. Braeden is now on his third year with this group. Braeden has also been a member of the North Jersey Area Band for 2016-2017 and will be back for 2017-2018. Braeden demonstrates well rounded percussionist as he has flourished in all areas, especially Timpani. Braeden is also a skilled mallet percussion player.  His respect for the craft if exemplified in his desire to explore the instruments outside the most popular aspect of percussion being drums.

Zachary Esposito
Grade 12, Morristown-Beard High School; Morristown; Nominated by Dr. John Girvin

Zachary has been an active participant in the Morristown-Beard School Performing Arts Department his entire high school career.  In that time, he has been an indispensable member of the MBS Jazz Ensemble, playing drum set with remarkable talent and intensity.  His high level of musicality has really enabled the band to swing wonderfully.  He has an innate sense of time, and is able to switch between styles and tempos in a professional manner.  Zach has been featured drum set soloist in many of the band’s selections, and is able to play both prepared and improvised solos with great ease.  In addition to his playing in the jazz idiom, Zach is a truly modern drummer, as best exemplified in his work with the MBS Contemporary Music Workshop Concerts.  These concerts of present-day rock and pop music are student-led and rehearsed, and he has been a tremendous leader.  Zach is also adept on mallets, and has been featured as a marimba soloist with the MBS Percussion Ensemble as well as with the Jazz Ensemble.  Finally, Zach has bene a fine mentor to the younger drummers in these ensembles, and he has been a terrific help in class getting these students up to speed.

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

Laura Fagan has one of the most pure hearts for percussion I have ever seen.  From the moment she auditioned for our percussion section, she has no other objective in her mind than that she would play percussion.  Laura’s passion for the percussion only grew each year as she in fifth grade worked extra hard so that she could play in the seventh/eighth grade drum solo. She even went to a high school football game and got so excited that she has had plans for years now about which instrument she wants to play when she joins the Marching Band in high school.  Laura makes special notes in her music to help herself to master it. She pays attention to every detail in the music.  She gets excited about new mallets, sticks, gear, and new types of percussion music.  It is a breath of fresh air to have such a wonderful music student.

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

Joseph is an active member of the Percussion Ensemble, Marching Band, and Concert Band.  Joe fell in love with percussion when first joining the music program in sixth grade.  He expanded upon this passion for musicianship by performing in the middle school plays.  Last year Joseph had the honor of performing on a national level with the only New Jersey percussion ensemble invited to perform at Yamaha’s Music for All Festival in Indianapolis.  In his spare time he enjoys arranging music from video game soundtracks for the marimba and xylophone as well as composing marching band cadences.

Jack Liska
Grade 7, John Hill School; Boonton; Nominated by Yvonne Manca

Jack is a dedicated music student that excels in the area of percussion.  He has been playing the drums since he was a young child.  He is capable of reading extremely difficult rhythms with accuracy and precision. Jack also plays in the town band called Harmony and takes private lessons outside of school.

Gavin McGinn
Grade 8, Harding Township School; New Vernon; Nominated by Tim Alworth

Gavin is a wonderful young musician.  He is a fantastic percussionist and drum set player.  I’ve worked with Gavin for five years and he has been my first chair percussionist for three years and a featured soloist in the jazz band during that same time. He has a great feel for the pocket and groove which is rare for a young player. He is an enthusiastic player and exactly what a music teacher looks for in their students.

Jonah Nack
Grade 12, Roxbury High School; Roxbury; Nominated by Jeffrey Conrad

Jonah is a fine young man.  He was the marching band battery percussion section leader and is also the vibraphone soloist with our top jazz band.  He is an outstanding young musician who practices his craft daily. He is also always willing to help other students and our band program in any way he can. He acts as a peer tutor to help younger students who cannot afford to take private lessons. He also has an independent study in his schedule which allows him to come to the middle school and assist the middle school percussionists.  Students and staff alike admire not only his skill as a musician, but also his sense of humor, his kindness, and his generosity. We are fortunate to have him as such an integral part of our band program.

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

Matt Vollmuth is one of the best student leaders I have ever taught. This year our drumline was the youngest, least experienced group of percussionists we had ever had in the marching band.  Knowing this, Matt began leading drumline-only rehearsals in April.   He met with younger students during lunch to practice.  He made sure everyone had their music before summer vacation and then started scheduling summer practices.  By the time the season began, the drumline already knew most of their music and Matt had them getting to every rehearsal an hour early to start working. As a student in symphonic band, concert band, advanced wind ensemble, jazz ensemble, and marching band, Matt has always handled his own music. He is always personally prepared and never backs down from challenging music.  What made the drumline so successful this year is that he instilled that same fearless work ethic into the other younger students.

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. The 2017-2018 season is made possible, in part, by a grant the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as support received from the F.M. Kirby Foundation and numerous corporations, foundations and individuals. The Mayo Performing Arts Center has been designated a Major Presenting Organization by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Mayo Performing Arts Center was named 2016 Outstanding Historic Theatre by the League of Historic American Theatres, and is ranked in the top 50 mid-sized performing arts centers by Pollstar Magazine.

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Frank L. Cahill
Frank L. Cahill
Publisher of Parsippany Focus since 1989 and Morris Focus since 2019, both covering a wide range of events. Mr. Cahill serves as the Executive Board Member of the Parsippany Area Chamber of Commerce, President of Kiwanis Club of Tri-Town and Chairman of Parsippany-Troy Hills Economic Development Advisory Board.
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