Arts & Entertainment

Roxbury High School Teen Tops Tubas

TJ Graf performing with the NJ Youth Symphony at New Providence High School in December 2014. Credits: Courtesy of New Jersey Youth Symphony; Photographer - Susan Peterson

Roxbury High School Junior, Thomas "TJ" Graf, placed 1st in the Northeast Young Artist Tuba Solo Competition, which recently took place at the 2015 Northeast Regional Tuba & Euphonium Conference (NERTEC). Many months of preparation went into TJ's participation in this prestigious competition.  The required repertoire included Bach's "Air and Bouree" arranged by William Bell and Winston Morris's arrangement of Domenico Gabrielli's "Ricercar." 

"Contestants for the Student Solo Competitions must not have reached their 20th birthday as of the date of the competition," indicate the official entry rules. 

Out of the eight finalists competing in this category, TJ was the only high school student, while the remaining finalists were college level musicians.

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NERTEC, a weekend long symposium, ran from April 10-12, 2015 and was hosted by Dr. Aaron Tindall and the Ithaca College School of Music. The event encapsulated everything tuba and euphonium related with full ensemble concerts, chamber recitals, solo performances, workshops, masterclasses, lectures and competitions. Among the performers were some of the most notable tuba and euphonium musicians in the field today. 

A dedicated musician, even at such a young age, TJ spends much of his free time practicing, performing with various Roxbury HS ensembles, is a member of the New Jersey Youth Symphony and previously played with the Eastern Wind Symphony Youth Band.  No stranger to the competition scene, he was a Young artist Tuba Solo semi-finalist at both the International Tuba Euphonium conference and Leonard Falcone International Tuba Euphonium and Tuba Festival in 2014. TJ also plays bass trombone, guitar and drums as well as sings with the RHS Choir.

TJ has studied tuba with Jeffrey Conrad, Roxbury School District Tuba/Low Brass Specialist; Derek Fenstermacher, Principal Tuba, New Jersey Symphony; and Paul Scott, Tuba Specialist, William Paterson University.

The RHS Instrumental Band Program, led by director Todd Nichols, is supportive of extracurricular music endeavors, understanding the educational value that exposure to a variety of music experiences can have for its students.

"The Roxbury School District is part of the inter-district school choice program for the fine and performing arts with educational opportunities for middle and high school students," states the Roxbury School District web site. 

To learn more about the Roxbury HS Band Program visit

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