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Vincenza Elia Represents Middletown at All-State Music Conference

Vincenza Elia holding her clarinet

When Middletown High School scholar Vincenza Elia went to her band and chorus auditions for the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA), she wasn’t sure what would come of it. Students may be selected for the All-County conference performance ensembles. Some may be chosen for the more exclusive Area All-State ensembles. There is also a chance to make it into the prestigious All-State ensembles. But she did not expect to make a tough choice in September, when she was offered a place in both the All-State Symphonic Band and the All-State Mixed Chorus ensembles!


Vicenza made her choice after much deliberation. She will be going to Rochester to participate in the All-State Festival from November 30-December 3, with the concert being held in the Eastman Theater on December 3.  


The high school junior has been singing in the chorus and playing the clarinet since fourth grade, and is a member of the Wind Ensemble and Chamber Singers. This is her first invitation to the All-State conference. An invitation to two ensembles is a major accomplishment, but unfortunately, not feasible to take on. Musicians can only participate in one.


“It was such a hard decision,” said Vincenza.


Vincenza sings Soprano 1, which is arguably the most competitive voice part and thus makes her selection for the All-State Mixed Chorus very enticing. On the other hand, it has been four years since someone from Middletown High School joined the All-State Symphonic Band. Vincenza wanted to break this four-year hiatus.


“But also,” the clarinetist explained further, “there is nothing like playing in a huge band ensemble where everyone just knows their parts already. It’s kind of magical.”


The preparations for Vincenza’s May audition began last November when she was given a solo piece. She went from practicing for half an hour a day, to three hours a day, which helped Vincenza build her endurance. The audition required the musician to play certain sections of the original piece. However, Vincenza was unaware of this. So much to her judge’s amusement, she proceeded to play the full 20-minute version of her song. That certainly left an impression!


Vincenza’s musical ability stretches even further than the Wind Ensemble and Chamber Singers. She has played the piano since the third grade, is also self-taught in the guitar and the ukulele, and she recently picked up the cello. She is also a member of the Pipers show choir group, the Marching Middies, and is co-captain of the Color Guard.


But like many other scholars, Vincenza had some setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When it began, she was in the seventh grade, and her music classes became difficult. She took a break from it in the eighth grade, but came back to it when she began her first year of high school. It’s thanks to teachers like the band teacher, Mr. Guy Johanson, that scholars like Vincenza have accomplished so much despite their challenges.


“He helped me so much to get back into music,” Vincenza said. “After COVID I was kind of shaky, but him teaching me and the way he taught, and how thoroughly and kindly he taught things just really motivated me to try harder.”


That motivation inspired Vincenza to join a band or chorus when she eventually goes to college, and maybe even a community ensemble after college. But for now she is determined to learn all she can at Middletown High School, and enjoy All-State to the fullest!