MONTVILLE, NJ – Dylan Nieradka, a 15 year-old sophomore at Montville Township High School, was selected as the winner of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Wizards In Winter” Play-Along Contest. The competition, which was coordinated in conjunction with the School of Rock chain of music schools, attracted entries from student musicians who are enrolled at over 270 School of Rock locations around the world.

Nieradka’s prize included a merchandise prize pack from the band as well as a package of tickets to a future Trans-Siberian Orchestra tour.

“The video that I submitted to the contest was my rendition of ‘Wizards in Winter,’ which is a popular Trans-Siberian Orchestra hit,” Nieradka said. “I played along with a version of the song that had the guitar portion left out of the track, and I filled it in with my performance. I had a blast making the video, and when I got the call that I was the winner, I was really excited and happy.” Nieradka has been studying guitar at School of Rock Montclair since 2016.

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With a sound that merges classical music with progressive rock, Trans-Siberian Orchestra has sold more than 10 million concert tickets and 10 million albums over its 24-year history. The “Wizards In Winter” Play-Along Contest represents the first venture between the band and School of Rock.

“Dylan’s video entry combines artistic virtuosity and impressive technical precision,” said Kevin March, General Manager of School of Rock Montclair. “These talents, along with a very entertaining and engaging performance, made it a no-brainer to be selected as the winning submission.”

In addition to his win in the Trans-Siberian Orchestra contest, Nieradka has had success in other guitar competitions, including being a finalist in the 2020 Dallas International Guitar Festival’s “10 Under 20,” which recognizes the top American 10 guitarists under 20 years old, and tying for third place in the 2019 School of Rock Shredfest, which took place at the Summerfest Music Festival in Milwaukee.

“School of Rock Montclair’s diverse programs and talented instructors have challenged me to be the most versatile guitarist I could be,” Nieradka said. He cited his influences as Nuno Bettencourt, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, DJ Ashba, Synester Gates, Eric Johnson, John Petrucci, Alex Lifeson, Plini, and Eddie Van Halen. “The School of Rock’s songwriting performance programs, songwriting camps, and music theory classes aren’t offered by other music schools and they’ve also helped me to grow as a musician.”

Along with his experience at School of Rock Montclair as a music/songwriting student, international contest entrant, and summer camp intern, Nieradka’s music pursuits also include membership in Chasing Paragon, a rock band that includes his twin sister Nikki on lead vocals. Nieradka plans to leverage his diverse musical background and deep passion for music in his college applications when he begins applying to schools next year. His target list includes Berklee College of Music in Boston and Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA.

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