The Cali School of Music recently concluded its highly anticipated Cali Award Ceremony, featuring a night of captivating student performances and joyous celebrations. The event, held on May 10 in Chapin Hall’s Leshowitz Recital Hall, served as a remarkable showcase of the extraordinary talents and achievements of the school’s gifted musicians.
The stage was set for a night of exceptional performances and well-deserved recognition at the prestigious awards ceremony. Derrick Campos, a remarkable undergraduate performer, claimed the Outstanding Undergraduate Performance Award. The audience eagerly anticipated his rendition of João Pernambuco’s “Sons de Carrilhões” and the premiere of his original composition, “Caminhando Con Ton.”
As the event unfolded, Dean Daniel Gurskis took the stage to present the College of the Arts’ Advisory Board Scholarship to Colin Merkovsky, the Cento Amici Scholarship to Adrianna Seewell, Thalia Suleymanov, and Colin Merkovsky, and the Dean’s Award to Harrison Smith. The ceremony also included a special acknowledgment of graduating students, Artist Diplomas, and Performance Certificates, marking their accomplishments in their musical journeys.
The atmosphere brimmed with excitement as Asheln Udell, recipient of the Alumni Achievement Award, was welcomed to the stage. Dr. Bryan Powell, delivering an inspiring charge to the graduating class, set the tone for an evening celebrating excellence and achievement.
Throughout the night, esteemed faculty members and guests continued to take the spotlight. Director Anthony Mazzocchi presented the Lucile and Enrico Oliva Endowed Music Scholarship to Christopher Vehmas, the Presser Foundation Undergraduate Scholarship for Outstanding Student to Rashaun Ashley, and the Thomas J. Randazzo Music Scholarship to Colin Merkovsky. Adrianna Viera received recognition for her Excellence in Academic Achievement, while Dr. Brian Abrams presented the David Ott Scholarship for Outstanding Music Therapy Intern to Michael Kammers and the David Ott Fellowships for Outstanding Graduate to Mark Quizon and Undergraduate Music Therapy Student to Alondra Batista.
Prof. Scott Richards announced the recipient of the Outstanding Undergraduate Composer Award as Adrianna Viera, followed by Dr. Aaron Helgeson recognizing the Outstanding Graduate Composer Award as Kalden Alexander and Outstanding Undergraduate Composer Award as Adrianna Viera. Dr. Heather Buchanan took the stage to present the Excellence in Choir awards, both for undergraduates Emma Gunther, Maya Henry, Nicholas Scafuto, and Harrison Smith, and graduate student Taylor Amato, along with the Cali School Service Award awarded to Amanda Roth.
Dr. Marissa Silverman commended the Outstanding Student Teachers Nicholas Lipari-Pazienza and Jason Rosenblum, as well as the Outstanding Graduate Student in Music Education recipients Rebecca Jacobson and Kyle Cottrell. Dr. Bryan Powell returned to honor the Excellence in Popular Music Ensemble recipients Melissa Hughes and Jack Powers, while Dr. David Witten presented the Music Teachers National Association Award to Steven Viola. Prof. Kyle Ritenauer celebrated the Excellence in Orchestra Award given to Randy Léon, and Dr. Thomas McCauley recognized Excellence in Band undergraduate Emily Sullivan and graduate Olivia Dorschel.
Prof. Karen Driscoll awarded the recipients of the Undergraduate Excellence in Opera to Chisom Maduakor and Graduate Excellence in Opera Award to Seungchcan Hong, while Prof. Oscar Perez acknowledged the Excellence in Jazz Award was awarded to Faith Krausman. Prof. Kathryn Lockwood took the stage to present the Oscar Ravina Talent Award to violinist Noah Stevens.
The audience was treated to a captivating performance by cellist Randy Leon, showcasing his talent with the third movement of Claude Bolling’s Suite for Cello and Jazz Piano Trio. The exceptional trio consisted of Shixuan Zhang on piano, Ryan Chamberlain on bass, and Benjamin Barham-weise on drums.
Director Anthony Mazzocchi concluded the ceremony with heartfelt closing remarks, expressing gratitude for the extraordinary talent and dedication displayed throughout the evening. The event culminated with a stirring rendition of Montclair State University’s Alma Mater, performed by Alexa Tammone, Kyle Kennedy, Noelle Dadon, Casey Gorab, Julian Dippolito, Maya Henry, and Lisa Bremer, accompanied by Chris Vehmas on piano.