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Seniors in music

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Seniors Alex Heywood and Quint Townsend played the violin at their final orchestra pop concert.

Seniors Alex Heywood and Quint Townsend played the violin at their final orchestra pop concert.                                    PHOTO/ Len Brown

By Lauren Moran and Grace Wang

The class of 2016 is a group of diverse group, and among these graduates are several talented musicians who will pursue their musical interests in a variety of college music programs.

All-state bassist and violinist Quint Townsend plans on studying voice and participating in the Chamber Choir at Clark University. He will also study under shared music teachers at Clark and Holy Cross for both voice and violin.

Townsend credits his voice teacher for encouraging him to take risks.

“Ron Williams is an amazing singer and he really pushed me to do things I never thought I could do,” Townsend said. “For instance, I was accepted into the All-State Choir this past January and I would have never been able to do that without the expertise of my teacher. He has taught me to believe in my ability as a singer which has helped me tremendously.”

Singing is not only an academic pursuit for Townsend.

“Over the past few months of taking lessons, singing has piqued my interest and I have really explored singing as it has become more of a release and way to relax for me when I am stressed out,” he said. “I think that everyone should have a way to release stress. Whether you do that through sports, theater, academics, or music is up to you, but everyone should try to find that thing,”said Townsend.

Similar to other musicians music is a means of communication for Townsend as well as a way to connect with people by doing more than just talking.

“I would say for many people music is a means of communication,” said Townsend. “It is amazing as you do not need to engage directly in conversation with anyone, but you can connect on a personal level with an entire room full of people just based on you singing or playing an instrument. Singing allows for a strong connection to those around you even though might have nothing in common. Music is a means of escape and communication. That is what it means to me.”

Alex Heywood will study a double major in engineering and violin performance at Union College. Also a violinist, Heywood said he would like to continue with orchestra and be a part of chamber music groups.

He has been paying the violin for  thirteen years and does not intend to stop. He said he is grateful to many role models who encouraged him to pursue music at the college level.

“My violin teacher [Clayton Hernon] studied with a very well known professional when he was younger and went to Boston University for violin… I respect him as a musician and as a teacher so he had the biggest influence [on me]. Mr. Memoli throughout high school always wanted the best for me and the other musicians. He cares that I find the right level of play that keeps me engaged. My parents helped me think through the potential pros and cons to making the decision for a double major and continuing violin at the next level. They really helped ground me with reality,” Heywood said.

Cellist Leland Ko was first chair in senior districts and All-States his sophomore year. As a member of the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and the Perlman Music Program, he has performed worldwide in festivals in New York, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, and Germany, and will be travelling to Israel and Spain later this Spring for another series of concerts.  He will attend.

Ko won’t be majoring or minoring in music at Princeton University, but he plans on participating in the orchestra and studying at The Juilliard School of Music.

“Juilliard and New York City are where everything musically is blossoming right now and that’s where I’ll be able to meet people and make connections in the music world,” Ko said. “This is what I want to do because I want to be a musician.  It’s that simple.”

Ko has been playing cello since he was three years old.

“By temperament I’m a musician.  It seemed to shock a lot of people that I’m not going into music for my undergrad, but there’s a reason behind all of this,” Ko said. “Whatever I learn from my interactions at university will, hopefully, feed into who I am as a musician, and hopefully that greater understanding [and] maturity will make me a better artist.”

Clara Babbott-Ward loves music, so she won’t major in it.

“I probably won’t major or minor in music because I don’t want it to ever become a task [or] requirement,” she said. “It’ll always be a privilege to play and be something to ground me.”

She explained that music is her “escape” and she never wants it to invoke stress.

“The Weston music program has been great because I doubt anywhere else would give me the opportunity to take up the bassoon. It’s such an odd, rather obscure instrument.
I’m so lucky to be here,” said Babbott-Ward.

Babbott-Ward said she is looking forward to attending Wesleyan University in the fall where she expects to be exposed to a greater span of musical opportunity.

“There is a large world music program [at Wesleyan]. There is a room half the size of the school cafeteria filled with instruments from nearly every culture from nearly every time period. I’m really looking forward to learning the history and reasoning behind these historic artifacts as well as learning how to play a few. I really want to make a few videos of myself playing pop songs on the ancient instruments to represent a fusion of cultures,” Babbott-Ward said.

John Egan will be pursuing a Bachelor of Music Degree in Viola Performance. His ride in music has been a long one, as he started playing in the first grade. But he did not consider pursuing music until he went to an orchestra camp between his junior and senior years.

He said at the end of this experience he knew “that music was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”

Egan said Weston helped to make his passion for music possible with their commitment to music and the awesome music program they provided.

“My musical experiences at Weston were enriching in their own right.  All four years I was in small chamber music groups of three or four people who were always friends I knew,” he said. “The chamber music groups played several times a semester, [and] went to a bunch of places around Weston and Wayland [like] the State House [and] elderly housing communities.”

Seeing the joy music creates for people inspired Egan’s future plans.

“Every time the groups would finish playing, we would all be happy and appreciative that our audiences acknowledged the effort that went into organizing and performing for them,” he said. “They would always thank us for sharing our music with them, and ask that we come back more often because it made their lives happier.  Most of our audiences were senior citizens, including my grandmother.  Seeing these people happier as a result of our music made me want to work to bring joy to other people.”


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