PARSIPPANY — Students from Parsippany, Chester, Morristown, Mendham, and Randolph have been named as Mayo Performing Arts Center’s February 2021 Music Students of the Month – Outstanding Pianists.
The students will receive a certificate for their honor from MPAC and will be featured on the Music Student of the Month page on the MPAC website.
Typically, MSOM honorees are recognized onstage prior to an MPAC event. Due to restrictions from the pandemic, that is not possible, but MPAC believes it remains important to recognize the achievements of area music students now more than ever.
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.
The 2021 Music Student of the Month program is supported by The Walter F. and Alice Gorham Foundation, Inc.
February 2021 MPAC Music Students of the Month:
Grade 11, Parsippany High School; Parsippany; Nominated by Erin Neglio
Rebecca is a phenomenal and gifted pianist and musician who is always trying to improve her abilities as well as help her peers. She always goes above and beyond what is asked and expected of her. She is a wonderful role model for her peers and the younger students in our ensembles and participates regularly in class. She competes regularly in piano competitions with her private teacher, has successfully auditioned into All-State Band on piano and flute, and is currently applying for All-Eastern. Rebecca has a great attitude towards music and life, and I give her my highest recommendation.
Heidy Carranza Alvarado
Grade 11, Morristown High School; Morristown; Nominated by David Gallagher
Heidy is an extremely talented piano player and even more talented all-around musician. She uses her talents in all of our ensembles and goes above and beyond every day. Heidy has played piano in our pit orchestras for the past several years. She is also the principal bassoon player in our wind ensemble and Drum Major for the marching band. In addition to her piano and other musical talents, she is also a very talented and hard-working film editor. She used these talents this winter to edit together a community service initiative with other musicians in our program. Together they created a virtual concert program that was shared with nearby nursing homes and schools to spread joy during the holiday season. Heidy edited the entire video and she can also be seen performing in the video. She created her own arrangement of Feliz Navidad where she plays piano, melodica, and ukelele all recorded together. She is truly a talented student and I am thrilled to have her in my program
Grade 12, West Morris Central High School; Chester; Nominated by Mark Stingle
Vincent Jiang, a senior at West Morris Central High School in Chester, NJ, has been playing the piano since the age of 5 with Ms. Gloria Chu. Excelling from an early age, Vincent truly blossomed as a pianist once he entered high school. He has won competitions sponsored by the NJ Music Teacher’s Association, the Music Educators Association (NJ), the Piano Teachers’ Congress of New York, the Cecilian Music Club and the Steinway Society of Greater Princeton. Vincent has also been accepted into the prestigious Boston University Tanglewood Institute summer program and the Philadelphia International Music Festival. Besides playing outside of school, Vincent is an extremely active member of the school’s music program, both as a singer and an accompanist. He is a member of the school’s Mixed Choir, the audition-based Concert Choir and the school’s co-ed acapella group, the Howlers. Vincent is always ready to accompany, and he has been the featured keyboard player for 4 years, with a highlight coming in 2019 when he accompanied our annual selections from Handel’s Messiah.
Grade 12, West Morris Mendham High School; Mendham; Nominated by Patricia Danner
Emma is a senior at West Morris Mendham HS and has been a star student of the music department since her freshman year. In all her areas of study (piano, saxophone, and voice), Emma shows a maturity far beyond that of her peers. She is naturally very expressive when she plays, and as such has added so much to our ensembles. As a freshman, Emma was leading the saxophone section in our top jazz band because she was able to play with the most style. Emma has also accompanied our choral ensembles on both piano and guitar, and not only is she well prepared with her parts, but she follows the ensemble with a nuance that I would expect from professional accompanists. Most importantly, music brings Emma joy. She is motivated by her love of playing, and this inspires everyone around her. She has a positive attitude, and is always willing to help out with section rehearsals or any other areas of need. Emma has been an incredible force for four years in all areas of our music program, and she is very deserving of this recognition.
Grade 12, Randolph High School; Randolph; Nominated by Michael Lichtenfeld
Thomas (Tommy) O’Sullivan, is an outstanding student-athlete-musician who pushes the limit in everything he does. Tommy has been pursuing musical activities since 4th grade… from 4th-9th grade in choir; 6th-11th grade acting, singing, dancing in the school musicals playing many iconic parts such as Sonny in Grease and Louis in Pippin; and has been a member of the Bands of Randolph instrumental music program since 5th grade as a trumpet player (now 2nd Chair in the Randolph High School Symphonic Band). Currently half of his enrolled classes in Randolph High School are music classes: AP Music Theory, Piano Class, Music Technology, and Band. Tommy is a self-taught pianist, having only tips, early on, from his skilled Mother, learning from YouTube, and sight-reading from any and all available piano books he could find. He plays piano every day “just for fun” and now has a repertoire of several hours of music, playing from memory and also being able to sight-read musical notation. Tommy has learned the ability to transpose keys and embellish his pieces by adding complex ornaments and arpeggios. Tommy proficiently plays piano and is now studying to perform Turkish March, composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), Arranged by John Thompson in his piano class at RHS in mid-January. Tommy is a well-known, respected student musician at Randolph High School. Tommy is a scholar as well, earning Honor Roll several marking periods, and is continuously pushing to excel during his senior year.
Grade 12, Morris Knolls High School; Randolph; Nominated by Michael Lichtenfeld
Without reservation, I nominate Alexandria Stevenson for the Outstanding Pianist Award. She is a phenomenal young musician. Alexandria has been playing the piano for 11 years. She is extremely involved in the Morris Knolls music department and the school community. Alexandria has been the pianist for the Morris Knolls Screaming Eagles Jazz Band since her freshman year, the Chamber Strings, and the String Ensemble since her sophomore year. She has also been selected to play at various induction ceremonies, graduation, and award ceremonies for the high school. Beyond her school involvement, Alexandria is heavily involved with her piano studies. She performs regularly in recital for the Pompton Valley Music Teachers Association. Notably, she has performed at Carnegie Hall in the Weill Recital Hall several times. She has also been a successful participant in competitions being a Semifinalist in Carmel Klavier International Piano Competition (2017), placing 3rd in the Prima Volta Music Competition (May 2018), earning PVMTA J.S. Bach Award, Young Artist (September 2019), and received recognition for High Honors at the New Jersey Music Teachers Association Spring Recitals (March 2019, 2020).