A Performance to Remember — Students Perform at Vermont Music Educators District VI Music Festival

Four of Vermont Academy’s gifted musicians, Sofia Bianconi ’24, Suki Lambert ’25, Caitlin Masure ’25, and Oliver Norkun ’26 were accepted into and performed at the Vermont Music Educators District VI Music Festival (VMEA DVI) on Saturday, January 27 at Green Mountain Union High School. Sofia, Caitlin, and Suki, participated in the District VI High School Choir, with Oliver participating in the District VI High School Jazz Ensemble.
VMEA DVI is a non-profit organization made up of music teachers in the southeast quadrant of VT who work together to produce two festivals of this nature each year. Vermont Academy Music Director, Steve Cady, is the manager for the District VI Jazz Ensemble, and VA has been a participant in this festival for over 30 years. 

“As both a music teacher at Vermont Academy and an officiant of the festival, it brings me a special sense of pride to celebrate the participation of VA students in this elite and exciting musical opportunity,” says Mr. Cady. “At each festival, I observe the talents and skills of the greatest musicians from this corner of the state, and seeing Vermont Academy students match or surpass the musicianship demonstrated by their peers is deeply rewarding. These festivals provide participants insight into what it is like to produce and perform music at the professional level - our students absolutely belong in that context and play a huge part in making the music a success.”

For these students, their passion for music didn’t happen overnight; most uncovered it at an early age. “My passion for music began as a child, surrounded by instruments,” says Sofia. “I have always loved making music in any way and hope to continue in college and beyond.” Suki’s musical career had early beginnings too. “I began playing cello for my school band around 3rd grade. These first years of musical exploration really built the framework for a passion for music and performing arts.”

These early-ignited passions were bolstered by the support of the music program at VA. “Being able to work with Mr. Cady has really elevated my playing,” says Oliver. “I go to his classroom almost every day, and he always has something new for me to try, and is always pushing me to be the best I can be. He has helped me have access to lots of great opportunities, I have improved so much working with him.”

Sofia also attributes her growth as a musician in part to the program, noting that the progress extends beyond her to the other music program members at VA. “The music program has helped me grow as a musician in a multitude of ways. I have advanced as a singer and instrumentalist and with the help of our music program, my stage presence has blossomed,” she says. “Every student in the jazz band and choir is heard and consistently improving their skills.”

For Caitlin, the VA music program has added holistic value to her life. “The performing arts department at VA has pushed me to become a better musician and just a better person in general. I'm so grateful for every opportunity I get to blossom further and show the world what I have to offer when it comes to music.”

The students reflected on the experience of the music festival, reporting that while at times stressful or nerve-wracking, the opportunity was well worth the hard work. “The day of the festival was a long day. We rehearsed for almost six hours straight with a 20-minute lunch break in between,” says Oliver. “It was totally worth it though, because we were able to perform four really awesome pieces of music, and sound great while doing so.” 

For Suki, the kindness and sense of camaraderie she experienced with the choir was top of mind in reflecting on the experience. “We all really bonded over the hours we spent rehearsing. The entire chorus lifted each other up and it ended up being amazing.”

Caitlin cherished finding a common ground with the other students at the festival. “Being in a room with like-minded people who all share a passion for music, even if I didn't know them, was a joyful experience. I loved just getting to make music all day.”

We couldn’t be prouder of these Wildcats for stepping out of their comfort zones and sharing their talents with the greater community. We look forward to seeing new and returning students at the festival next year!

Join us on Tuesday, February 27 at 7:30 in Nita Choukas Theater in Horowitz Performing Arts Hall for our Winter Performing Arts Night.
Vermont Academy is a coed college preparatory boarding and day school in southern Vermont, serving grades 9-12 plus a postgraduate year.