Many artists and arts lovers trace their initial spark of interest back to a high school music teacher.
For many high school students, music, drama, dance, orchestra, and chorus were integral to how they learned to express themselves, assert their individuality, collaborate with others—and most of all, discover that distinct sense of excitement and possibility many of us only get from the performing arts.
And so, Wolf Trap rewards the teachers who make it all possible—particularly those creating innovative new programs.
Each year, grants to pursue promising, one-of-a-kind programs are awarded to a select number of high school teachers from Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia.
2014-2015 Grant Recipients
Washington-Lee High School, Arlington County, VA
The main act: Alex Robinson wants his students to understand America’s great tradition of jazz. He’s using his Wolf Trap grant to enlist jazz legend Andrew White to serve as artist-in-residence, teaching students the history, theory, and techniques of jazz and blues.
The grand finale: In March 2015, the high school’s jazz ensemble will give a free public performance conducted by Andrew White.
James W. Robinson Secondary School, Fairfax County, VA
The main act: Always eager to expose his students to music from around the world, Mike Horanski used his Wolf Trap grant to enlist the help of renowned composer Sydney Guillaume from Haiti. Guillaume was set to premiere a new composition in 2015 and agreed to teach it to Horanski’s vocal students. Using technology to overcome geographic barriers, rehearsals were conducted via Skype until Guillaume could eventually visit the classroom to finalize instruction in person.
The grand finale: In June 2015, Horanski’s students will take part in the world premiere of Guillaume’s new composition. The famed composer will conduct the work himself, giving the young vocalists an opportunity to learn not only about singing, but following professional direction as well.
Dominion High School, Loudoun County, VA
The main act: To address the shortage of male singers in her chorus, My-Van Nguyen used her grant to enlist international performer and vocal teacher Jim Van Slyke to serve as artist-in-residence. Slyke is now drawing male singers to the program, offering specialized techniques in areas such as breath control, tone, and tempo.
The grand finale: Dominion High School’s music department will host an all-male choral festival in participation with surrounding area schools. Scott Tucker, conductor of the renowned Choral Arts Society of Washington, will serve as the festival’s guest conductor.
Seneca Valley High School, Montgomery County, MD
The main act: Michelle Searle wants to ensure that her most promising young singers are prepared for the rigor of college-level music programs. She used her Wolf Trap grant to provide students with master classes led by 3 distinguished college choir directors. The trio taught students to interpret complex works and hone their advanced-level performance skills. Artists-in-residence include: Arian Khaefi (Towson University), Kenneth Elpus (University of Maryland), and Stephen Holmes (Notre Dame of Maryland University).
The grand finale: In May 2015, Seneca Valley High School will hold a performance to celebrate the young singers and their development.
School Without Walls, Washington, DC
The main act: Gregory Lewis strives to give his gifted choral ensembles opportunities to grow. He used his Wolf Trap grant to support master classes led by professional accompanist and composer Thomasena Allen. Lewis’s students are now learning advanced vocal techniques, as well as how to interpret standard choral literature from classical and contemporary periods in music history.
The grand finale: The students will perform Allen’s choral arrangements at the school’s spring concert in May 2015 and at a June music festival at Walt Disney World in Orlando.
Surrattsville High School, Prince George’s County, MD
The main act: In preparation for upcoming performance festivals, as well as county assessments, Valerie Dent used her Wolf Trap grant to help the school’s orchestra and symphonic band up their game. She secured 3 artists-in-residence, who are leading master classes on technique and performance. Artists-in-residence include Dr. Mark Phillips, Dr. Adolf Wright, Charles Ellis, and Rebecca Henry.
The grand finale: Students will travel to the distinguished Peabody Conservatory for workshops on what to expect from collegiate-level music instruction, as well as professional career options. A final concert will follow at Surrattsville High School, with students performing alongside a slideshow showcasing their journey.