Four Holy Cross High School students, Hayley Cuttitta '17, Christina Finkenzeller '18, Vincent Packer '18 and Nicholas Pietrorazio '19, were selected to participate in the Southern Regional Music Festival. This annual festival is hosted by the Connecticut Music Educators Association.
For the festival, the state of Connecticut is divided into four regions –northern, southern, eastern and western. Hayley, Christina and Nicholas were chosen to perform in a regional choir comprised of 200 students from other southern region schools. Vincent was one of twenty clarinet players in a 100-member regional band. In addition to the traditional SATB choir, the female students performed with a Girls' Treble Choir.
The audition process to get into the festival was grueling. Students are judged on performance, site reading and scale delivery. They are given a numerical score based on their tone quality, intonation, pitch, interpretation and expression.
The festival took place over a two day period. Students were given music ahead of time. Rehearsals were held on Friday and Saturday afternoon. The day ended with a performance on Saturday night.
"Our director was really great," said Christina. "At rehearsals, he said we are going to be collaborative artists. We are just going to make music and make the audiences feel something."
Christina possesses a three and a half octave range and performs many different styles of music including classical, jazz, modern and musical theater. "I knew that I wanted to do something with music," said Christina, "but I didn't know how far I could go with it until I came to Holy Cross. I have learned a lot."
Hayley has participated in the festival for the past four years. Every year, she has had a completely different experience. "It's so different from a school choir," she said. "We are singing with some of the most advanced singers in the state. This year, we had a guest conductor from Haiti. We sang many pieces that he wrote."
"It was so great to get feedback directly from the composer," said Nick, who started singing at five years old. "He told us how he wanted it to sound. We performed songs in Italian and Creole.....This was so much fun. I met and learned from many different singers."
Vincent has attended this festival as both a vocalist and an instrumentalist. Originally a saxophone player, he switched to clarinet in his freshmen year. As part of the 100-member regional band, Vincent also went through an intense rehearsal period. Most of his performance selections were contemporary. "I love performing," he said. "I love sharing all of the hard work that I put into the practice room. It also feels great to express myself and make myself vulnerable."
Like Vincent, Hayley is also a vocalist and instrumentalist. She plays guitar, piano, saxophone and flute. She always had a love of music when she was younger. "It came naturally to me," she said. "If I am having a bad day, I'll go to one of the practice rooms and play piano. It will put me in a better mood."