SOMERS, N.Y. – Emily Denler is a senior at Somers High School. She sings in the high school choir, plays in the orchestra and has appeared in several school productions, recently starring in “Les Misérables.”
Emily, you are an accomplished high school musician. When did you first begin singing in a choir and playing in the orchestra?
I’ve really been singing all my life! I come from a musical family, so I remember as a little girl singing and playing music games on long car rides. But officially, I started singing in kindergarten with Mrs. Rossini, and I joined the SIS orchestra in third grade with Mrs. Wozniak.
When you think of yourself as a musician, do you think of yourself as both a strings player and a vocalist, or do you prefer one over the other?
I’m definitely more serious about my singing, and that’s what I’ll be studying in college, but I love playing violin and piano. They help improve my musicianship skills immensely!
What type of music is your favorite to practice and perform? Do you have a favorite composer?
I love all kinds of music! Broadway, choral music, pop songs, classical... I’ve been known to belt Disney songs at the top of my lungs in my house when nobody is home! I really love Aaron Copland’s music. I have sung a lot of his arias and really enjoy them for their beauty and tonal uniqueness.
How much time do you devote to practicing? How do you balance that time with studying and other endeavors?
I don’t officially time my singing practice because I basically never stop singing. When it comes to studying—I sing then, too. To balance out my studying with all of my other commitments hasn’t always been easy, but I’ve kept organized, and been able to make time for everything.
You have been involved in many SCSD concerts and performances. You recently played the role of Cosette in the SHS production of “Les Mis” to rave reviews! Do you have a standout memory from any of those concerts or performances?
My standout memory was playing Ariel in “The Little Mermaid.” It was very humbling to have been a princess and a role model to all of the little kids I greeted after the shows. I was even hired to perform at children’s birthday parties after the show was done dressed as Ariel. Seeing the joy in their little faces meant the world to me.
Have you been involved in any performances outside of school that you are particularly proud of?
This past November, I was selected to be a member of The NAfME All-National Honor Choir. I travelled to Texas with Mrs. Ferraro and sang with other high school singers from all over the country. We worked under the direction of a world-renowned choral conductor, Dr. Anton Armstrong. I also was selected for The NYSSMA All-State Mixed Choir as a junior. That took place in Rochester and I sang under the direction of Dr. Sandra Snow. Both of those experiences were life-changing for me. It was because of these experiences that I decided to become a music educator.
If you could fast forward to where you think you want to be in 10 years, where would you be? Do you plan to continue with your music?
In the fall, I will be attending the University of Delaware as a music education major. There, I will further my education to one day become a high school chorus teacher. Mrs. Ferraro was such a positive role model for me. Without her support and guidance, I would not have been the musician I am today. If I can be half the teacher she is, I will consider myself to be very successful.
As a senior at SHS, what kind of advice would you give to younger SCSD students who want to be involved in the performing arts?
Being involved in the arts in the SCSD is everything. The teachers provide such a loving environment where all can feel safe and included. The advice I would give to the young students in the SCSD is to stay involved and don’t give up. The skills you develop as a musician will carry over to all other areas in your life. Academics, personal relationships, teamwork, jobs, responsibilities, and many other life skills. The performing arts programs in Somers are exceptional. We are so lucky as a community to have this.
This interview was submitted by STARS (Somers Tuskers Arts Rising Stars), a booster club made up of parents and staff members committed to supporting the performing arts in the Somers Central School District. Part of the STARS mission is to educate the community about the student performers, their talents and their work ethic. For more information, please visit: somersschools.org, and click on the “Visual and Performing Arts” tab to get to the STARS web page. Or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.