Warwick Valley High School junior Lionel Wolfe started playing the piano when he was five years old, picked up the saxophone in elementary school and joined the chorus in middle school.
He still plays both instruments, but his most recent musical accomplishment came as a singer.
Lionel was selected as an alternate for the All-National Mixed Choir by the National Association for Music Education (NAfME). The NAfME All-National Honor Ensembles represent the top-performing high school musicians in the United States.
Area All-State Festival
Lionel is also a New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) All-State alternate and was chosen for the Area All-State Mixed Choir, which will be performing at the Area All-State Festival at Newburgh Free Academy later this month.
“Lionel is one of the most dedicated students,” said WVHS music teacher Noreen Hanson. “He is an incredible and well-rounded musician. He sings, plays piano and saxophone and has a soft spot for German Lieder.”
To audition for the All-National choir, Lionel submitted video recordings of one required song and an optional song. He used some of his father’s photography equipment to record the video.
The required song was “Deep River.” Lionel chose “O Isis Und Osiris,” a song from the Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” for his optional piece.
“It’s one of the few bass songs that truly is a bass song, and so it actually showed off my voice since I’m a bass 2 instead of a baritone,” Lionel said. “The (optional) portion I did in one or two takes since it was a song that I’ve been doing for a while. But then the required audition part took quite a few takes because I’d only looked at the music that morning.”
‘Good way of expressing emotions’
Lionel finds that music provides both a good way to express himself and good sense of community. When the transition from elementary school to middle school left him feeling a bit lonely, music helped him find an entire new group of friends.
“Music is good way of expressing emotions, and I find that it calms me a lot,” Lionel said. “Also, throughout my life it has built up this community and that is welcoming and friendly, where everyone kind of works off of each other. Especially now with high school, I find that all of the choirs have this mentality where they actively try to establish themselves as feeling like family and always being a safe spot for each other.”
‘Trying to find a way of keeping music in my life’
Lionel is also an excellent student, making the summa cum laude honor roll all four marking periods and winning the Outstanding Achievement & Ability in French University 1 award last year. He plans to study engineering in college.
“I plan on keeping up music and playing it throughout college,” Lionel said. “I’ve been toying with the idea of taking it up as a minor. If I can find a way of keeping music in my life as much as possible, I’m all for it.”