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Chatham student hits high note with All-State Choir

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Heather Damia
October 23, 2019 11:50 am

CHATHAM — The New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) has named Chatham High School senior Heather Damia to the All-State Treble Choir. Making All-State is a major accomplishment for Heather, as the event showcases only the most talented high school musicians from across New York State.

When her high school’s choral teacher, Samantha McShane, called to give her the news, Heather said she screamed. “I was really excited because I know how hard it is to get in and there are only two names on the plaque,” she said, referencing an engraved commemoration her school displays in honor of its All-State students from years past. Heather’s name will make three.

Heather, a soprano 1, drew consideration for this honor this past spring after scoring a 100 on a level 6 (highest performance level) solo she sang for the judges at the regional NYSSMA Solo and Ensemble Festival, and after being recommended for All-State by McShane.

“You have to have a perfect score on a level 6 solo to get in, and not everyone who does gets invited,” Heather explained. For her solo, she had chosen a challenging piece of opera full of meandering cadenzas and long-held notes, all sang in Italian. Earlier that spring, Ms. McShane worked with the Chatham Education Foundation to bring Laura Kay, a contemporary American opera singer, in to Chatham High School to help her students up their singing game. “That master class was really helpful. It made me feel more confident in what I was doing,” Heather said.

Heather has sung in her school chorus since fourth grade, has participated in NYSSMA festivals since middle school, and has been tapped for All-County performances in both choir and orchestra. She is a regular in her school’s musicals and is active in community theatre. She has also studied singing privately under Nellie Rustick and Amanda Boyd.

“It makes me feel super big and powerful when I sing,” Heather remarked. “It’s really fun to make beautiful sounds and I find it very freeing.”

Along with singing, Heather plays the cello, is an honor roll student, and is a member of Tri-M Music Honor Society and National Honor Society.

All-State takes place Dec. 5 through Dec. 8 in Rochester, during which Heather will perform in concert with the Treble Choir on Dec. 8 at the prestigious Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, located at the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music.