If it were Las Vegas, they would have said they ran the table. That is exactly what the North Bergen High School Music Department did artistically at school year’s end when their talented musicians competed at a countywide competition.
At the Hudson County Alliance of Teen Artists Awards Ceremony at the William J. Brennan Courthouse in Jersey City, the Bruins took either “Top Honors” (first place) or “Judges’ Award” (runners-up) in six of the seven categories they entered.
“It felt awesome. It really is that all the hard work we put into our music pays off in the end,” said Evelyn Gonzalez of the Advanced Choir and Ladies Ensemble. “And it makes me strive harder toward my goal of becoming a music education major.”
The musical categories and their honors were:
*Large Group Vocal, Advanced Chorus, Top Honors
*Piano Solo, Daniel Lavin, Top Honors
*Vocal Music Small Group Ensemble, Ladies’ Ensemble, Top Honors
*Large Group Instrumental, Wind Ensemble, Top Honors
*Small Group Instrumental Solo Brass, Sergio Gomez, Top Honors and Nick Valencia, Judges Award
*Small Group Instrumental Strings, Allan Bezama, Top Honors
“It’s very powerful – very ‘out there,’ ” said Gomez of his finish in solo brass. “It felt good maintaining my title. What I planned to do was finish senior year with a bang – so it was good.”
“It was amazing, especially since it was senior year,” said Fransheska Sosa, on her way to Rutgers University to study pharmacy. “As a senior, you want to leave as a winner.”
“I played what I wanted to play. It didn’t matter if I won or lost. I just wanted to show people that I love music.” – Allan Bezama
“I was confident with the performance. I was proud,” said Lavin, of taking top honors in the piano solo. “It’s a nice way to cap senior year.” Lavin will study music at New Jersey City University in September.
“I was so excited – I had a feeling,” said Jaedon Caceres, 17. She is one of the returning chorus members, coming back for her senior year and to defend her group’s title.
Chelsea Vargas, 17, is also returning, and also hoping to make more strides with her singing.
“It’s exciting to see what the competition will be next year – and if we win, great,” she said.
Choral director Jennifer Penton and band director Michael Connor could not have been prouder of their students.
“I thought they worked really hard and they really sang well that day,” Penton said. “I think that especially, though, because of the level of music we were singing. It gave us a leg up in the competition.”
“So we finally broke through,” Connor said. “It was amazing. I remember announcing it (Top Honors) to them and they went absolutely berserk. It was great.”
But maybe the happiest of them all was George Haviland, supervisor of music at the high school.
“It’s nice to see the arts recognized,” he said. “What’s most important is the real appreciation of the arts, what it does for the school, and what it does for the students.”
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.