MORRIS COUNTY —The outstanding band members of MPAC’s Music Students of the Month are recognized for their exceptional performance.
Students from Parsippany, Boonton Morristown, Mendham, and Butler schools were honored as Mayo Performing Arts Center’s May 2023 Music Students of the Month – Outstanding Band Members — before the Friday, May 5 performance by John Pizzarelli.
Students were nominated by their teachers and were chosen by the Theatre’s Education Department based on their commitment to excellence in the performing arts. The students were honored on stage before the concert and had an opportunity to meet John Pizzarelli. 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.
Dominick Caponegro: Grade 11, Parsippany High School; Parsippany; Nominated by Gregory Dalakian
Dominick Caponegro has been a dedicated member of our music program since, even before, he entered Parsippany High School! He always shows great enthusiasm and passion for being a member of the PHS Band program. He is a talented musician and has contributed his skills to our ensembles (Concert Band, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, and Marching Band) on various instruments, including trumpet, tuba & sousaphone, bass trombone, and even guitar. Dominick has even gone on to participate in local area ensembles, including the North Jersey Area Band and TubaChristmas. He has performed with classmates at local stores for PHS Band Booster fundraisers. He gives 110% to the PHS Band program, always representing PHS with Pride, Honor, and Spirit.
Sri Naranjan Gandhirajan Shivakkumar: Grade 8, Brooklawn Middle School; Parsippany; Nominated by Joseph Stella
Sri is one of the top musicians in our 8th-grade band. He was originally a clarinetist, but when asked to help fill in a need for an oboe player last year, he rose to the occasion and began practicing even more to become proficient on this new instrument. Although he is now playing oboe in our concert band, he still auditioned successfully for this year’s Intermediate Region Band on the clarinet. He can often be found around the room practicing during his free time at lunch. This year, he has even taken on the additional challenge of learning to play the tenor saxophone for our school’s jazz band and the English horn for our school musical. He is already excelling at both of those new instruments. Besides being a great musician, he is kind, respectful, and a joy to teach. Sri would be a fitting recipient of the Outstanding Band Member recognition.
Paul Ippolito: Grade 8, John Hill School; Boonton; Nominated by Yvonne Manca
Paul has been an asset to the music program at John Hill School. He has been at every practice with great enthusiasm. He has improved greatly over the course of the past two years. He can read difficult rhythms and can play with ease over the break.
Aaron Andino: Grade 12, Morristown High School; Morristown; Nominated by David Gallagher
Aaron is the principal trombone player for our wind ensemble at Morristown High School. He always leads by example and is caring and mature in his approach to music and interaction with his peers. He produces an incredibly vibrant sound and is an absolute rock in our low brass section. Aaron also played for our middle and high school pit orchestras this year. His talents are surpassed only by his work ethic, and I am proud to have taught him these past seven years.
Neil Chopra: Grade 8, Mountain View Middle School; Mendham; Nominated by Leigh Carpenter
Neil is a musician who performs at a level years above his age. His tone is that of a high-school or college-level player. He challenges himself with repertoire at that level as well. Recently he learned the All-State high school audition solo and memorized all 12 scales. What is even more impressive about Neil is his maturity and focus as a learner. Neil is a consummate scholar. He is self-motivated and takes ownership of all aspects of his learning. He continually works to improve himself and always asks for clarification and help. He advocates for himself, volunteering to do solos and practicing consistently to master his music. He has participated in NJ Arts Solo and Ensemble, Junior Regions, District Honors Band, and High School Wind Ensemble auditions and performed solo at our concerts. Neil is a musician, learner, and a fine young man of character, mature, respectful, and kind. He gets along well with his classmates and is foundational in our band sound.
Thalia Milow: Grade 8, Frelinghuysen Middle School; Morristown; Nominated by Tim Beadle
Thalia has been a multi-instrumentalist at FMS for three years and has never turned down a challenge. Though she arrived as a flute player, she has played piano and saxophone in the jazz band and bassoon in the concert band and wind symphony. Though Thalia has only played bassoon for about a year and a half, she successfully auditioned for North Jersey Area Band NJSMA Jr. Region band this year. It seems no matter what she is asked to do. She works at it until she gets it. I cannot think of a better band student to represent Frelinghuysen Middle School for Music Student of the Month!
Everett Palumbo: Grade 8, Randolph Middle School; Morristown; Nominated by Tom Davidson
Everett is consistently prepared for band rehearsals and serves as a musical leader for others in his section. In 7th grade, Everett auditioned for the Randolph Middle School Jazz Ensemble and made the cut. Everett found that he loved playing jazz music and liked the style and flow of it. Everett is now in 8th grade and has successfully auditioned for the RMS Jazz Ensemble again. He had a solo in the annual Randolph Jazz Coffee House performance earlier this year. Everett looks forward to continuing his saxophone career next year with Randolph High School and their outstanding music ensembles. Due to their amazing saxophonist Jeff Coffin, Everett loves listening to his favorite band, The Dave Matthews Band.
In addition to playing music, Everett is a multi-sport student-athlete, playing lacrosse, ice hockey, and soccer for Randolph. Lacrosse is Everett’s main sport; he plays on four teams yearly. Everett plays for Randolph Recreation Lacrosse and was selected to play for STEPS Elite Lacrosse Club, 1More Lacrosse Select Team, and NJ Sixers Box Lacrosse Club. Everett has been chosen as the captain of his Randolph Lacrosse team this year, hoping to lead them to a championship. Even when playing sports, music helps Everett prepare for his games and helps him celebrate his achievements afterward. Aside from playing sports, Everett is an honor student in all honors classes.
Natalie Roszkowski: Grade 8, Richard Butler Middle School; Butler; Nominated by Lyn Lowndes
I am privileged to recommend Natalie Roszkowski for the Mayo Center of the Performing Arts “Outstanding Band Member” Award. I have known Natalie since September 2018, when she joined the Richard Butler Middle School Band. Throughout the time that I have been teaching Natalie, I have found her to be a hard worker that cares about her school band, practices her clarinet, works diligently on academics, and is kind to her peers. Natalie participates in the Concert Band and Jazz Band and has successfully auditioned on clarinet for and performed with the North Jersey Junior Area Band in both 2022 and 2023. She is also an active member of the local Girl Scout Troop in the Butler/Bloomingdale area. Natalie asks questions, takes advice, and is passionate about music. She works well with her classmates and helps them when needed.
Benjamin Sebiri: Grade 12, Morristown High School; Morristown; Nominated by David Gallagher
Ben is the principal horn player for the Morristown High School Wind Ensemble. Throughout the year, Ben has had numerous solos and exposed passages in his music, and he has risen to the occasion time and time again. Ben was originally a saxophone player but took up the French Horn in high school to help the band, and you would never know that it was not his primary instrument. Ben also played for our middle and high school pit orchestras this year. He is an incredible musician who works as a terrific leader for his section, and I am so proud to have taught him these past seven years.