Photo Courtesy of James Manno
The Columbia High School Virtuosi Ensemble was one of six student music groups statewide to play at the New Jersey School Boards Association State Convention. Front row, from left, are Hank Mecinski, Gabriel Roth, Daisy Andrejco, Hazel Allison Way, Zubin Kremer Guha, Jasper Thomas Yount, Imogen Pranger, Tess von Brachel, Julien Gagnier and Frida Rahmani; and back row, from left, are Superintendent Ronald Taylor, interim CHS Principal Kalisha Morgan, district supervisor of the fine and performing arts James Manno, String Orchestra teacher Todd Van Beveren, school business administrator Paul Roth and Board of Education President Annemarie Maini.

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ — The Columbia High School Virtuosi Ensemble was honored to perform at the New Jersey School Boards Association State Convention on Wednesday, Oct. 23, in the Atlantic City Convention Center.

Per the recommendation of arts supervisor James Manno, Columbia High School String Orchestra instructor Todd Van Beveren sent in a video excerpt to NJSBA of the ensemble performing in May 2019 for consideration. The Virtuosi Ensemble received an acceptance email in June 2019, indicating they were one of six student groups invited statewide to perform at the conference, and that they were the only string ensemble invited. 

The ensemble played the first movement of the Felix Mendelssohn Octet in E-flat Major, Op. 20, a treasure of the chamber music repertoire and a piece that challenged the group at its highest level. Mendelssohn wrote the piece at the age of 16, one year before he wrote his music for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Listeners can hear many connections in the octet to that piece, almost like Mendlessohn was trying out some of his ideas for the later piece.

The Virtuosi students had a great time exhibiting their talents at the convention. The students considered it an honor to be chosen and they were pleased to be supported by the district superintendent, CHS principal, board president, school business administrator and arts supervisor, who were all present at the performance.