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February MPAC Music Students of the Month

MORRIS COUNTY — Students from Parsippany, Randolph, Budd Lake, Chatham and Morristown schools were honored as Mayo Performing Arts Center’s February 2023 Music Students of the Month – Outstanding Orchestra members — prior to the Thursday, February 16 performance by Lviv National Philharmonic Orchestra of Ukraine.

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 students were honored on stage prior to the concert. The Theatre will honor a group of students every month throughout the season and invites area teachers to nominate students for this honor.

The 2022-2023 Music Student of the Month program is supported by The Walter F. and Alice Gorham Foundation, Inc.

About the February Music Students of the Month (bio supplied by their instructors) 

Sanjihana Bharanidharan – Grade 7, Brooklawn Middle School; Parsippany; Nominated by Adam Austerlitz

Sanjhana is not only an excellent musician but a dedicated and passionate learner as well as a natural leader. She has been taking private lessons for several years and is currently working on the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto. Sanjhana spends much of her free time practicing or creating music with others.  Outside of school, Sanjhana participates with the Lakeland Youth Symphony orchestra. Sanjhana has also proven a highly effective leader during ensemble rehearsals. She takes her role as concert mistress seriously and does everything she can to get the best sound out of the orchestra.

Phillip Byrne –Grade 12, Morristown High School; Morristown; Nominated by Norma Davis

Phillip Byrne has been an outstanding member of the Morristown High School Orchestra and select Chamber Orchestra for the past four years.  He is incredibly dedicated and is an extraordinary musician.  Phil serves as section leader for the double basses and can always be relied upon to give one hundred percent in every rehearsal and performance.  He loves learning, is fully engaged, and is an outstanding collaborator.  A natural role model, Phil enthusiastically encourages his peers to reach for and achieve the highest level of musicianship possible.  He thrives on challenges and performs with passion.  He expertly leads bass sectionals and lessons and is committed to the success of the Orchestra.  Phil gladly takes advantage of every music opportunity, performing on the bass with the jazz band, wind ensemble, small ensembles, choir, and pit orchestra for the musicals.  He excelled in AP Music Theory, enjoyed delving into music analysis at a deep level, and used his ear-training skills to write and transcribe bass parts that he performed with the concert choir.  Phil always goes above and beyond with a great attitude and works hard to accomplish his musical goals.  He has high standards, an eye for detail, and performs with a powerful, rich sound.  Although tremendously talented and accomplished in his chosen art, Phil is humble and always ready to pitch in as needed with a positive attitude and a smile.  It is no wonder that whenever any music faculty member at MHS needs a bass player, they ask Phil.  His convivial personality, impeccable integrity, determination, and self-motivation make him a gem among his peers.  Phil has a bright future ahead and will surely make a difference to those he meets in life, his future studies and career.

Brandon Liu – Grade 12, Chatham High School; Chatham; Nominated by Liam Keller

Brandon is a Senior violinist who has been a part of the orchestra program in Chatham for his entire time in the district. I worked with Brandon for four years as the Director of Orchestras, Chamber Ensemble Advisor, and Music Theory teacher. Brandon is a highly organized and motivated musician, constantly striving to achieve his personal high standard for performance in everything he does. Brandon is a strong student leader and his peers and faculty respected his academic work and character. As a member of the orchestra program, chamber orchestra ensemble, and Musical Pit, Brandon was confident during rehearsals and consistently demonstrated excellence during many professional performances. My assessment of Brandon is extremely positive. Brandon has been a constant positive force of energy motivating his peers to excellence. Always interested in the concerns of others, he was available to help students requesting assistance by becoming a tutor for his peers. Brandon is a team player and understands the process of moving from the model of good to great. It is with great pleasure that I recommend Brandon be granted consideration for this award. I assure you Brandon’s record of strong intellectual and academic achievement, performance ability, integrity, character, leadership, respect for others, and his unfailing energy to use his talents to their fullest, merit your consideration. 

Laurily Merzatta – Grade 7, Brooklawn Middle School; Parsippany; Nominated by Adam Austerlitz

Laurily is an exceptional violist and overall musician. She recently placed 6th chair in the North Jersey Intermediate Region Orchestra. Along with her viola studies, Laurily is a very talented arranger. Recently, she arranged a unique and inspiring rendition of “Happy Birthday” for strings for my birthday. Outside of school, Laurily also performs with both the New Jersey Youth Symphony and Lakeland Youth Symphony, where she recently won the concerto competition with the Telemann Viola Concerto. Laurily’s musical abilities are not only restricted to viola. She is also a highly capable trumpet player, performing with the Brooklawn Middle School band, and vocalist, performing with the Brooklawn choir and having recently been cast as the Stepmother in our school’s production of Cinderella.

Elizabeth Morgievich – Grade 11, Randolph High School; Randolph; Nominated by Eric Schaberg

Elizabeth Morgievich is one, if not the most talented student, I have had the privilege of teaching over my 30+ year career.  She was Accepted last spring into All-State Orchestra and performed with that ensemble this past November of 2022, Elizabeth has just been given the rare Honor of being a member of All-Eastern Orchestra which has a process to select only a very few students from the Eastern United States.  The All-Eastern Orchestra will perform later this spring at the famous Eastman School of Music.  Elizabeth has just recently successfully auditioned for Region 1 Sr. Orchestra and has been a member every year in her High School and Middle School Years.  This is an orchestra in which string players audition/compete from the Northern part of NJ to become a member of the Region 1 Orchestra.  Elizabeth was given the fourth chair in the 1st violins and 6th chair overall out of the 48 violins who made it into the orchestra.  To top off an incredible year for Elizabeth, she will be playing “Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso” by Camille Saint Saens with the Randolph High School Orchestra, as the violin soloist.  She is also part of the upcoming Randolph Musical, “Fiddler on the Roof” in the spring.  With all of these wonderful accolades, Elizabeth is very kind, humble, and a true pleasure to work with as her Director and for her colleagues in the High School as well.  She is the student that every Director wishes they had the opportunity to teach in their career and I am lucky to have had the privilege! 

 Ahana Mukherjee – Grade 8, Mount Olive Middle School; Budd Lake; Nominated by Aimee Jimenez

Ahana is a wonderful student. She is always asking for more – music recommendations, additional help, videos to watch, and giving me suggestions for orchestra repertoire for the class. Not only that, she is eager to help others learn and will often jump in to help a fellow student before I can. She is confident in her abilities, but not arrogantly so, and responds well to critiques and makes the same adjustments across repertoire often without prompting. I truly believe she will go far with music.

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 2022-2023 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, The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation and numerous corporations, foundations and individuals. 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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