Reflecting on a Year of Music Making at AC

Posted on May 19th, 2017 by klapa

Allendale Columbia’s music students have been active throughout the school year in many different county events. The students who participated in these events rehearsed on their own time to prepare their music, had extra lessons with music faculty, and gave up their weekend time to participate in an ensemble. Their participation shows a high level of commitment to their musical learning, and they all did a great job representing AC!

We began the year with the All State Festival. Catherine Kennedy was chosen to participate in the Jazz Chorus, a select group of 24 students from across the state. They performed in December in Eastman Theater to a packed house. Catherine was featured with a scat-solo in one of the pieces. Catherine was later selected to participate in the All-Eastern Music Festival, which features the best singers from the East Coast. This is the first time an AC student has been selected for this ensemble. She traveled to Atlantic City in April to join a choir of 350 singers for four days of music making.

The month of March was full of Monroe County Festivals. Rebecca McQuilken was selected based on her high Solo Festival score to be in the Monroe County School Music Association (MCSMA) All County Jazz Chorus, an honor she also received last year. Though the festival was cancelled because of the wind storm, Becky is hoping to teach one of the pieces to AC’s Select Chorus next year.

The Middle School MCSMA All County Festival was full of AC students; six students represented AC in the choir and one AC flutist was in the band. The chorus students (Cynara Nelson, Michelina Nicodemous, Brynn Peters, Jonathan Ragan, Gunnar Rorapaugh, and Grace Rundberg) joined 113 other students to fill out the choir. Grace was also chosen to sing a solo in the beginning of the piece, “Coming Home.” Middy Vella participated in the Junior High All County Band’s flute section, an honor she earned through her performance of a challenging level-V solo at the January MCSMA solo festival.

Elementary All County followed shortly after Middle School. Lilah Costanzo was selected as the first-chair French Horn player in the band, making this her second year to earn this position. Nathan Roof and Andy Clinton were selected to participate in the chorus and spent two days with over 150 other students in the chorus.

The year concluded with the PEAK (Parents, Educators, and Kids) General Music Festival at Spencerport High School. Adrianna Williams and Ethan Truong both participated in the festival along with 124 other fourth-grade students from across the county. They enjoyed a full day of music making and performed a short concert at the end of the day.

This year was was full of music making both on and off campus. Congratulations to our talented students on all they’ve accomplished!

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Posted in: Eighth Grade, Eleventh Grade, Fifth Grade, First Grade, Fourth Grade, Highlights, Kid Kudos, Kindergarten, Lower School, Middle School, Ninth Grade, Second Grade, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, Tenth Grade, Third Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School

Student Creativity Thrives in Wind Ensemble

Posted on March 25th, 2016 by klapa

Musical ScoreUnlike many traditional school bands, in which the director programs the concert, chooses the repertoire, and hands out the music, AC’s Wind Ensemble welcomes student input and creativity.  This semester, with only one piece of the repertoire chosen by the conductor and another (music from the Star Wars saga) suggested by students, there is a buzz of student creativity.  Three ensemble members are working on their own arrangements for our instrumentation, and one is composing her own original piece.  Some of the students’ works may be recorded, and some will be performed at this year’s Upper School Spring Concert (Thursday, May 19th).

Noah Meyers started his medley of music by the 90s grunge band Nirvana last summer.  He emailed me music files, and I would give feedback, until he got pretty close to the finished product, at which point I entered the whole score into the program Finale so that we could get a really nice looking layout and parts.  We have been rehearsing Noah’s Nirvana medley and plan to perform this piece in the Upper School Spring Concert.

Danielle Fuller now has sketches in the works for a band version of music from the show Legend of Korra.  Danielle’s interest in arranging this music has led her to the study of orchestration, with a focus on instrument techniques and ranges, timbre or tone color, and texture.  The piece is not yet complete, but we hope to schedule a performance of it once it is.

Phelan Conheady came to me early in the fall with a unique request: Would I help him arrange a medley of national anthems? Who could say no to that? I had him start by writing out the music for the anthems and putting them in an order that made sense to him.  Wisely, he chose to keep the medley at a reasonable length by including only sections of each anthem, and he combined them in ways that fostered variety while maintaining a nice flow from piece to piece.  Nations represented include Madagascar, Costa Rica, South Korea, Japan, the United States, China, Philippines, and Senegal.  We plan to record this piece, titled Global Citizens, as part of an ongoing recording project, and it will be performed in the Upper School Spring Concert.

A diverse musical performer and actor, Cecilia Esterman took the initiative to compose an original piece of music for the Wind Ensemble.  Titled “1 2 5,” it is based on chords and melodies derived from the first, second, and fifth notes of a major scale, and it is Cecilia’s contribution to the celebration of our school’s 125-year history and celebration.  The ensemble did a reading of the work last week, and individual members gave the composer feedback for the purpose of revisions.  We will resume rehearsal of the revised edition throughout April, with the goal of performing it in the Spring Concert and including it in the recording project.

The work of Noah, Danielle, Phelan, and Cecilia represents advanced musical thought and creativity. Congratulations to all four on their efforts and accomplishments!

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Posted in: Eleventh Grade, Highlights, Ninth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School

Five by Five Performs at AC

Posted on February 9th, 2016 by klapa

The group Five by Five, a musical quintet, visited our school recently to present a concert of modern music. As part of the performance, they invited some of our students to take part in an improvised piece, “Buffalo Jam” by Pauline Oliveros. The performances were outstanding, and students indicated that most of them had never heard music like this before.

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Posted in: Highlights

AC Partners with the University of Rochester’s Vocal Point to Provide A Cappella Education

Posted on November 7th, 2014 by klapa

Beat BoxingThere have always been a cappella groups (ensembles that perform entirely without musical instruments) on college campuses. Recently, however, there has been a shift to using voices to emulate instruments found in popular music. This style requires more emphasis on re-creating instrumental textures vocally, especially percussion (commonly known as beat boxing).

Since 2012, the University of Rochester’s all female a cappella group, Vocal Point, has provided workshops and concerts for Allendale Columbia Upper School students in a cappella technique and beat boxing, providing a fantastic and unique learning opportunity.

The success of these workshops has lead to the commission of arrangements by Vocal Point for AC’s Girls Ensemble. In the future, members of Vocal Point will also work with our students to teach the specifics of a cappella arranging. In addition, AC’s international students will attend the Vocal Point Fall Show at the University of Rochester on November 7th, providing a great opportunity for our students to have a glimpse of college life outside the academic classroom!

After graduation, many AC students continue to participate in a cappella groups in college, providing a fantastic social and creative outlet for students pursuing other academic fields. Some of the groups AC students have participated in include: the University of Rochester’s Vocal Point and After Hours; Oberlin’s Nothing But Treble; Yale’s Red, Hot and Blue; Princeton’s Roaring 20’s; and Johns Hopkins’ Octopodes.

Click here to see a video in which Vocal Point teaches AC’s Girls Ensemble the song “Everybody Talks.”

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Posted in: Eleventh Grade, Highlights, Ninth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School

AC Students Enjoy Music for All Performances

Posted on March 26th, 2014 by klapa

“Music for All” is a program that was started a few years ago at the Eastman School of Music. Through this program, the world class musicians that study at the Eastman School are assigned to play salon-style, chamber music concerts for young audiences throughout our community.

This year, AC was fortunate to host five separate performances over two days given for audiences in grades one through five. Students had the opportunity to hear the performances, learn about the instruments being played, hear about the performers and their backgrounds, and ask questions. The performers commented on what great listeners our students were and the quality of the questions they asked.

All performances were fantastic, and we hope to be able to invite these wonderful musicians back to AC in future years!

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Posted in: Fifth Grade, First Grade, Fourth Grade, Highlights, Lower School, Second Grade, Third Grade

AC Summer Program: Step Into School

Posted on July 3rd, 2013 by Tony Tepedino

As we move into our second week of camp, the campus is alive with over 200 campers and 11 different camps already. From music theatre, to weird science, Allendale Columbia continues to buzz with exciting and unique summer programs.


One of the camps offered during the first week of camp each year is Step Into School camp by nursery school teacher, Donna Kwiatkowski’s. Throughout the week, incoming Allendale Columbia nursery school students Declan, Taylor, Keegan and Rocco were all introduced to the nursery classroom through arts, shared playtime, music activities, group games and hands-on activities.

“The goal of the Step Into School camp is to help get each student ready for school,” said Kwiatkowski. “Before their first school experience in the fall, they’ll already have an understanding of the routine of a school day and have a familiarity with their environment and Allendale Columbia campus.”

The Step Into School camp week is both a positive experience for each student, to get used to being away from home for the first time, and a week that Kwiatkowski very much looks forward to each year.

“One of the best parts of camp is seeing the increased confidence that each student gains day-by-day as they feel more and more at home.”

As the students get more and more acclimated to Allendale Columbia, they not only grow as individuals, but they also bond together as a class.  At AC, we believe we offer a different school of thought in part because from the earliest ages, our students are part of something larger than themselves and character development goes hand in hand with their intellectual development in a very personal way.

When nursery school then starts in the fall, the classroom experience becomes even more enriched and these students surely have an easy time joining the AC community as our youngest learners.

Want to see more nursery activity at Allendale Columbia? Check out the following photo galleries from the 2012-2013 school year.

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Posted in: Highlights, Nursery, Pre-Primary School