Collin Richardson's Incredible Year
Judging by any standard, Collin Richardson enjoyed an incredible junior year at Huntington High School and he appears poised for a fabulous senior campaign when classes resume next week.
Mr. Richardson is mature beyond his years. He's an articulate speaker, a leader among fellow students and a gifted musician. He's been active around the school and in the community, sharing his love for music.
Last spring, the incoming senior participated in the All-National jazz band at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. Mr. Richardson was the third Huntington student-musician in as many years to perform on the national level, following alto saxophonist Mikah Feldman-Stein in 2011 and vocalist Mary-Liz O'Neill in 2010.
"Last fall, I sent in an audition recording to the National Association of Music Educators for their All-National jazz band that is made up of High School musicians from all across the country," Mr. Richardson said. "It was an honor to be part of the All-National jazz band." The teenager was the only New York student in the national jazz group. Between performances, he went on two guided tours of the nation's capital, including one under the moonlight.
Mr. Richardson was named to the "first trombone" seat in the Suffolk County Music Educators' Assn. All-County jazz ensemble after auditioning for it last fall. Rehearsals began in January and before long it was earning rave reviews. Mr. Richardson also participated in the Day of Jazz in Sayville late last winter. "There were some great performances by the administrator/teacher jazz band and guest artists and a lot of student jazz bands from around the area," he said.
While Mr. Richardson knew he would be playing with the All-County group during SCMEA Day in Albany last March, a late phone call notified him that he would also perform with the All-State jazz ensemble. As an All-State alternate, he was asked to step in when another member couldn't make the trip. "Of course, I said I would," he said.
All-State Jazz Band
Mr. Richardson arrived in Albany on a Sunday and rehearsed with the All-State jazz band for its Monday performance during the New York State School Music Assn. Day and a second performance that evening at a party that saw administrators, teachers and students mingling with state legislators and discussing the importance of music in our schools. The next day Mr. Richardson played with the All-County group during SCMEA Day.
"This trip was a lot of fun," Mr. Richardson said about his journey to Albany. "We were given a stipend and allowed to head off on our own to explore the capital mall after the All-State performance. We were nearly involved in a protest, though we looked a little out of place in our tuxes."
In late April, Mr. Richardson auditioned for this coming year's All-State jazz ensemble. "So maybe I will get accepted instead of being an alternate and be able to return to Albany, as well as the [All-State] conference in Rochester," he said.
The teenager performed with the All-State wind ensemble in Rochester last December. Again he was an alternate who received a late call when one of the bass trombonists cancelled. Although he didn't have a bass trombone and never played the instrument before, Mr. Richardson said he would do it.
Huntington music teacher Jason Giachetti assured All-State officials that Mr. Richardson could handle the responsibility of mastering the music with the new instrument within a few short weeks. "That was the easy part because it turned out that bass trombones are hard to rent," Mr. Richardson said. "Fortunately, with the loan of an instrument from teacher/musician Mike Richardson, (no relation) I was able to attend and had an amazing experience. I don't think anyone there knew I was new to the instrument."
HYPE Night at Library
Mr. Richardson teamed up with classmate Matthew Beeby, himself an accomplished musician, to organize the second annual HYPE (Huntington Young Performer's Enrichment) Solo Preview Night at the Huntington Public Library this past spring. "This is always a very fun and relaxed event and next year with [Huntington High School vocal teacher] Mrs. [Veronica] Mainville's accompanist skills we hope to include vocalists as well, so that the talented singers from the area can also participate," Mr. Richardson said.
Like each of his serious fellow Huntington High School musicians, Mr. Richardson endured a "crazy busy" four consecutive months earlier in the year stretching from January through April. There were rehearsals for wind ensemble, jazz band, pit orchestra for the spring musical, the orchestra and vocal groups, preparation for NYSSMA and try outs for marching band.
"After playing at the Special Olympics Spring Games and the honors concert on April 25, some of us were able to take a bit of a break with only our All-State auditions to focus on," Mr. Richardson said. This past year Huntington had several ensembles being adjudicated, including two brass quintets. They performed at the chamber music concert held in the J. Taylor Finley Middle School auditorium.
Mr. Richardson successfully completed his third year with the Nassau-Suffolk Performing Arts Jazz Ensemble under the legendary Bill Katz. "I highly recommend this organization to any student interested in jazz," the teenager said. The ensemble's final concert of the year was held at the Tilles Center last May. One day earlier the group performed at an event on the Hofstra University campus.
Usdan Center Merit Scholarship
During the spring concert at Huntington High School, Mr. Richardson performed French organist and composer Félix-Alexandre Guilmant's Morceau Symphonique. "It is a little slow in parts, but deceptively difficult due to the intervals and phrasing," Mr. Richardson said. "People say it can be showy and that it feels 'French' because of its romantic sound. I never played a concerto before, but I have to say I really appreciate my fellow band mates wiring on their parts to support me. It's was a huge honor."
The Huntington musician was awarded a merit scholarship to attend the Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts in Wheatley Heights. It is billed as "the nation's preeminent not-for-profit summer arts day camp."
"This is a great opportunity and a chance to work with other amazing teachers and directors as well as other talented musicians," Mr. Richardson said about the summer sessions at the Usdan Center. He also performed with the Bay Shore-Brightwaters Community Band, making for a busy summer.
Mr. Richardson and fellow Huntington High School musicians participated in last June's Relay For Life fundraiser for the American Cancer Society at Blue Devil Stadium. The teenager captained Team Improvisation, which was comprised of Huntington jazz band members. The jazz band performed during the overnight event, to the delight of the big crowd.
With the Blue Devil marching band season underway and numerous other projects and activities on the horizon, not to mention a challenging set of senior year classes, Mr. Richardson will be keeping busy in the months ahead.