Thursday, April 30, 2009

Torrington Musicians Climb a Mountain--Toward Dreams

FALLS VILLAGE-On one of the first full blown days of spring, the halls and houses of Music Mountain reverberated with the sounds of violins, violas, cellos and basses. As the venue's season has not yet begun, the symphony of scales and bits of concertos that drifted onto the central lawn Monday came from 30 of Torrington High School's aspiring musicians, who had trekked up to the music haven for a day of master classes.

"It's gives them an opportunity to learn what we could never give them in Torrington," said Wayne Splettstoeszer, the conductor of the high school's orchestra. "There are not a lot of options for string students."
Thanks to a grant provided by the Community Foundation of Northwest Connecticut, Music Mountain hired six students from the Hartt School to teach two 90-minute classes. Because many of the students do not have private instruction, the master classes were divided up by instrument to create the most individualized situations.

The purposefully low student-to-teacher ratios allowed certain tricks of the trade to emerge, such as how playing a cello's C string in a certain way mimics the theme from the "Jaws" movies, or how a mute can be helpful when practicing in hotel rooms. The Hartt School students had the added advantage of being closer in age to the Torrington students, which fostered an immediate ability for each group to relate to the other, as well as giving the younger musicians an example of what their next step could be in pursuing a musical career."We re-thought the idea of master classes," said Carol Ascher, vice president of Music Mountain, referring to the traditional model of older professionals leading other highly- skilled professionals. "My idea since I've been on the board is that we needed to connect more with underserved kids."

The students and teachers will complete journals, detailing their experience throughout the day and containing their critiques. Ms. Ascher plans to use the feedback as part of her report to the Community Foundation, as well as material for future versions of the partnership with the Torrington school district.
The NAMM Foundation recently awarded the city its ninth ranking in the annual Best 100 for Music Education, and Mr. Splettstoeszer hopes to expand the master class program to the elementary schools, where there is a significant number of string players.
Nicholas Gordon, president of Music Mountain, which his father founded in 1929, explained the benefit to the facilities' guests: "If you take a kid who plays in a high school orchestra and doesn't know what his instrument sounds like and you put him on this stage, suddenly he realizes, 'Gosh, what a wonderful thing it is to play the fiddle.'"
For more information on Music Mountain and its upcoming season, see the Web site

Friday, April 24, 2009

THS Band 2010 4th of July Parade State Representative!

The Torrington High School Marching Band will be representing the State
Connecticut in the 2010 National Independence Day Parade in Washington,
July 3, 2010 - July 5, 2010. Torrington High School was nominated by
Joseph Lieberman to represent Connecticut.

The National Independence Day Parade in Washington, D.C. is the largest
4th of
July Celebration in the United States. An average of over 100,000
people watch
the parade down Constitution Avenue.

This will be the second time that Torrington High School Marching Band
will be
representing the State of Connecticut in a National Parade - Washington,

2006 National Cherry Blossom Parade Connecticut Representative
2010 National Independence Day Parade Connecticut Representative

Please join me in congratulating the band this tremendous honor!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

High school students to ascend Music Mountain

By Henry Moore - Register Citizen

Click to enlarge

Torrington High School is sending a group of string musicians to Music Mountain in Falls Village on Monday to participate in a program of performance and instruction.

Torrington High School is sending a group of string musicians to Music Mountain on Monday to participate in a unique program of performance and instruction. Thirty-one students will be split into groups of five or six to receive advanced instruction from students of the Hartt Conservatory, as part of an expanded offering by the Falls Village venue.

“During the session, each teacher will focus on simple, but critical techniques for a particular instrument,” Carol Ascher, Music Mountain vice president, explained. “The April 27 class is for Torrington High students only, though we hope to expand the program in the future.”

Students that perform in the school musical program do receive training and are required to practice often, and many take private lessons to develop additional skills. Wayne Splettstoeszer, musical director at THS, plans to send a diverse sampling of his program to work with the Hartt students, with 15 violins, three violas, five cellos, and six bases planned for the seminar.

“In the past, Music Mountain has offered these master classes to students with serious backgrounds in their instruments,” Ascher said. “This is our first partnership with THS, and our first attempt to offer master classes to a group of students that will include a number who have never had a private lesson.”

Though many of the students have performed in a theater environment, Music Mountain will afford them the opportunity to experience the rich acoustics of the renowned hall. While no formal performance is planned for this first venture, future classes may conclude with a joint performance by the students and the instructors. The program was initiated by Music Mountain, and funded by the Community Foundation of Northwest Connecticut.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Torrington - Best 100 for Music Education in America! 2009

Torrington Public Schools has been listed as one of the Best 100 for Music Education in America for 2009! Torrington Public Schools has been listed in the Best 100 in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 making Torrington the most awarded community in Connecticut!

CARLSBAD, Calif., April 16, 2009—The NAMM Foundation today announced the results of its tenth annual “Best Communities for Music Education” survey, which acknowledges schools and districts across the U.S. for their commitment and support of music education in schools. As the economy challenges state and local school budgets to adequately support education, the 124 school districts named by the NAMM Foundation demonstrate the unwavering commitment to provide music education for their students. The NAMM Foundation’s mission is to ensure that all children have access to quality music education programs that encourage lifelong participation in music making.

This year’s roster of musical schools represents 21 states with a record amount of communities from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas. A total of 29 communities are new to the roster. The complete list of “Best Communities” is appended below.

“The potential of music to help children reach their full development is understood by the school districts represented in this year’s survey results,” said Mary Luehrsen, executive director, NAMM Foundation. “We celebrate these communities that are committed to providing access to music education programs and bettering the lives of their students.”

The 2009 survey, which opened on Thursday January 15, and ended Friday, March 13, was available to all districts nationwide. This year, teachers and school district administrators, representing communities across the country, participated in the Web-based survey. The districts were measured across curricular and programmatic criteria as well as public support of their music programs. The survey was developed and administered by The Institute for Educational Research and Public Service, an affiliate of the University of Kansas.

Participants in the survey answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program, and other relevant factors in their communities’ music education programs. The responses were verified with district officials, and advisory organizations reviewed the data.

Throughout the survey’s ten years, many districts have reported that making the “Best Communities” list has had a positive effect on their ability to preserve music for their students amid budget cuts in arts programs.

In conducting the annual survey, the NAMM Foundation is joined by advisory organizations in the fields of music and education including, Americans for the Arts (, League of American Orchestras (, The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation (, The Metropolitan Opera Guild (, Music for All (, Music Teachers National Association (, National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts (, National PTA (, Yamaha Corporation of America ( and VH1 Save The Music Foundation ( The survey was conducted by The Institute for Educational Research and Public Service of Lawrence, KS, an affiliate of the University of Kansas.

The complete “Best Communities for Music Education” roster is listed alphabetically below:

School District City State
Abington School District Abington PA
Albion Central School District Albion NY
Ann Arbor Public Schools Ann Arbor MI
Arlington Independent School District Arlington TX
Avon Lake City School District Avon Lake OH
Baltimore County Public Schools Towson MD
Bay Shore Union Free School District Bay Shore NY
Bay Village City School District Bay Village OH
Beachwood City Schools Beachwood OH
Bedford Central School District Mount Kisco NY
Belmont Public Schools Belmont MA
Berea City School District Berea OH
Bethel Public Schools Bethel CT
Boardman Local Schools Boardman OH
Bolivar R-1 School District Bolivar MO
Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD Carrollton TX
Cedar Grove-Belgium School District Cedar Grove WI
Central Cambria School District Ebensburg PA
Central York School District York PA
Chesapeake Public Schools Chesapeake VA
Cheshire Public Schools Cheshire CT
Clarence Central School Clarence NY
Clark County School District Las Vegas NV
Clarkstown Central School District New City NY
Cobb County School District Marietta GA
Conestoga Valley School District Lancaster PA
Cuyahoga Heights Schools Cleveland OH
Dearborn Public Schools Dearborn MI
Denton Independent School District Denton TX
District 279 - Osseo Area Schools Maple Grove MN
Dover Area School District Dover PA
East Meadow Union Free School District Westbury NY
Edmonds School District Edmonds WA
Fairfax County Public Schools Falls Church VA
Fayetteville-Manlius Schools Manlius NY
Franklin Township Public Schools Somerset NJ
Fulton County Schools Atlanta GA
Great Neck Union Free School District Great Neck NY
Greenwich Public Schools Greenwich CT
Guilderland Central School District Guilderland NY
Harborfields Central School District Greenlawn NY
Harford County Public Schools Bel Air MD
Henrico County Public Schools Richmond VA
Herricks Union Free School District No. 9 New Hyde Park NY
Hewlett Woodmere Public Schools Woodmere NY
Hilliard City School District Hilliard OH
Homewood City Schools Homewood AL
Hopewell Valley Regional School District Pennington NJ
Hortonville Area School District Hortonville WI
Hurst-Euless-Bedford Independent School District Bedford TX
Jenison Public Schools Jenison MI
Jericho Union Free School District Jericho NY
Johnson City Central School District Johnson City NY
Katy Independent School District Katy TX
Klein Independent School District Klein TX
Laramie County School District #1 Cheyenne WY
Lawrence Township Public Schools Lawrenceville NJ
Lebanon City Schools Lebanon OH
Le Roy Central Schools Le Roy NY
Liverpool Central School District Liverpool NY
Longwood Central School District Yaphank NY
Loudoun County Public Schools Ashburn VA
Lower Merion School District Ardmore PA
Manhasset Public Schools Manhasset NY
Metuchen Public Schools Metuchen NJ
Midway Independent School District Waco TX
Milaca School District #912 Milaca MN
Mineola Union Free School District Garden City Park NY
Montgomery County Public Schools Christiansburg VA
Monticello Central School District Monticello NY
Mount Lebanon School District Pittsburgh PA
Nanuet Union Free School District Nanuet NY
New Hartford Central School District New Hartford NY
Newfield Central School District Newfield NY
North Allegheny School District Pittsburgh PA
North Babylon Union Free School District North Babylon NY
North Penn School District Lansdale PA
Northmont High School-Northmont City Schools Clayton OH
Northwest Independent School District Justin TX
Northwestern Lehigh Elementary School-Northwestern Lehigh School District New Tripoli PA
Nutley School District Nutley NJ
Oceanside School District Oceanside NY
Olmsted Falls City School District Olmsted Falls OH
Oppenheim-Ephratah Central School District St. Johnsville NY
Osage County R-II Linn MO
Paramus Public Schools Paramus NJ
Pasadena Independent School District Pasadena TX
Pasco School District Number 1 Pasco WA
Pennsbury School District Fairless Hills PA
Perrysburg Exempted Village Schools Perrysburg OH
Phillips-Edison Partnership School Napa CA
Piscataway Public Schools Piscataway NJ
Plano Independent School District Plano TX
Port Jefferson School District Port Jefferson NY
Potsdam Central Schools Potsdam NY
Putnam Valley Central School District Putnam Valley NY
Quaker Valley School District Sewickley PA
Richland County School District One Columbia SC
Roanoke County Schools Roanoke VA
Rosemount High School-Rosemount-Apple Valley School District Rosemount MN
Salem-Keizer School District 24-J Salem OR
Santa Monica-Malibu USD Santa Monica CA
Sayville Public Schools Sayville NY
Scarsdale UFSD Scarsdale NY
Shaker Heights City School District Shaker Heights OH
Simsbury Public Schools Simsbury CT
South Orange Maplewood School District Maplewood NJ
St. John-Endicott Cooperative Schools St. John WA
Stow-Munroe Falls City School District Stow OH
Syosset Central School District Syosset NY
Torrington Public Schools Torrington CT
Troy School District Troy MI
Virginia Beach City Public Schools Virginia Beach VA
Wappingers Central School District Wappingers Falls NY
Washoe County School District Reno NV
Webster Central School District Webster NY
West Genesee Central School District Camillus NY
West Hartford Public Schools West Hartford CT
West Irondequoit Central School District Rochester NY
West Milford Township Public Schools West Milford NJ
West Orange Public Schools West Orange NJ
Willard R-II Schools Willard MO
Williamsport Area School District Williamsport PA
Williamsville Central School District East Amherst NY

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Area school bands perform at Warner

TORRINGTON — Musicians from Region 7, Torrington and Litchfield schools brought their instruments and talent to the Litchfield County Band Festival at the Warner Theatre Tuesday. Students performed on stage before hundreds of friends, patrons and family members.

“This is a really good chance for my kids to hear the other bands play.” said Geoffrey Brookes, director of the Litchfield High Schools Symphonic Band. “It’s a great opportunity for us to display their talents.”

Northwestern Regional High School’s Concert Band, comprised of freshmen, sophomores and juniors, was on stage first, with several challenging works. The group, which generally performs in the band room at the school, appeared relaxed and professional throughout the performance.

Sydney Case, a Northwestern freshman who has been playing the flute since third grade, found the Warner more suited to the full bodied sound of the selections played.

“It’s fun here, less cramped and open,” Case said. “You need to project the sound more, but the acoustics are terrific.”

Litchfield High’s Rachel Clarkin-Berslin has been here before. As a senior, this was her fourth performance at the Warner.

“We all enjoy hearing the music and style of the other bands.” Clarkin-Berslin said. “This performance, in this setting, prepares us for our spring concert at the school.”

Wayne Splettstoeszer, director of the Torrington Symphonic Band, showcased the talents that earned his students recognition at a performance at the Central Connecticut State University recently. Their performance of “Variations on a Korean Folk Song,” featured solo’s from each section.

Many of the students that participated in the activities plan to pursue a degree in music or music education. Litchfield’s Clarkin-Berslin is comparing music programs at Brown University and Vassar College. John DelVento, a senior at Torrington High School, has been accepted at the Hartt School, where he intends to pursue a double music major.

The evening concluded with performances by the Northwestern Wind Symphony, comprised of experienced seniors and dedicated underclassmen.

“There is a social order of progression into the Wind Symphony,” said Stephen Zimmerman, musical director for Northwestern. “The kids know when they are ready to go to the next level, and this group requires a very high commitment.”