Hayden Victor (’15) and Emie Nathan (’15) are huddled around a single music stand in the band room, rehearsing their performance for January’s Baby Photo assembly. Victor strums chords on the guitar, whilst Nathan effortlessly sings her rendition of “Here Comes the Sun”.
Although Victor is a fully capable guitarist, his primary instrument is the tuba. “I started pushing myself more freshman year, and then especially junior year. I started practicing hard every day,” Victor said. The motivation for the extended periods of time Victor devotes to his tuba comes from his ultimate goal of becoming a professional musician.
Victor has gotten a taste of the professional performing arts industry. Patrick Harold, a tuba player in the London Symphony Orchestra, recently accepted Victor as his student, providing him with regular lessons. “[Patrick Harold] agreeing to take me on as a student has probably been my biggest accomplishment so far,” Victor said.
Another avid musician, Nathan appreciated singing from a young age. However, she has never taken an official vocal lesson. She was able to cultivate her skills and knowledge by growing up in a musical household. “I grew up on jazz,” Nathan said. Her father, who had wanted to be a professional singer himself, often overheard her singing as a young child and encouraged her to pursue. She began to sing regularly when she was about four years old.
Nathan looks up to her father, as “He’s insanely talented and he’s my inspiration for a lot of things. He sparks my ideas and pushes me to do things.”
The father-daughter pair often duet together, recording music in the vicinity of their home. “I like singing with my dad. It’s something nice that I like to do and I feel proud when I do,” she said.
Milo Rechler (’15), like Nathan, has been a performer for as long as he can remember. Telling funny stories has always been something he loves and is what sparked his passion for acting. “I think a complete actor needs to be able to do everything. I’ve been told that people find me funny and comedy is sort of what got me into acting,” he said.
At his previous school, Rechler and his peers were required to participate in semi-annual plays. For Rechler, it was less of an obligation and more of an opportunity to do what he loves: Perform. He acted in his first professional theater performance called “Miss Lilly Gets Boned” the summer before his Grade 8 year.
Ariadne Letrou-Papamarkakis (’17) was also exposed to her passion–music–early on. She recalls always having a piano in her house. Since then, Letrou-Papamarkakis has reached grade six in singing and grade seven in piano on the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) exams. She practiced for long hours to prepare for these extensive assessments, with testing components ranging from sight reading to performing prepared pieces.
Letrou-Papamakarkis is currently preparing for her next ABRSM piano exam, working towards attaining the eighth and final level.
This past summer Letrou-Papamarkakis started a small two-week music school on the island of Paxos in her native Greece. “The music school would be the accomplishment that’s stuck with me the most…I like combining where I’m from and community service and what I love to do and helping other kids learn music,” she said.
The funding for the school’s music department was suspended so she decided to take initiative. “It was nice to see because normally they wouldn’t get that kind of opportunity because they don’t have a space to perform or they don’t have a teacher. I felt really happy to see that I contributed to that,” she said.
Letrou-Papamarkakis is part of the Main Choir in the London Youth Choir. This past March, Letrou-Papamarkakis and her choir performed at We Day. The event is an annual celebration of young adults’ volunteering through community service conducted by Free the Children, a charity that globally advocates to empower youth as catalysts of change. Many noteworthy figures were attendees, including Malala Yousafzai and Prince Harry.
Nathan is part of a professional choir as well: The Capital Children’s Choir. Nathan has sung at numerous events with the choir, including performances at St. Paul’s Cathedral and at a Lily Allen concert at O2 Academy in Brixton this past December. “It’s a proud moment for me when I can stand up and sing for people. I’ve done a lot of things through the choir and those have been proud moments, but they haven’t been mine,” Nathan said. In the future, Nathan hopes to establish a solo career in music.
Nathan, Victor and Rechler are all planning to pursue their art beyond high school. “The first step would be getting into a good school with a teacher that can get me to the level that I need to be to be a professional [musician]. That’s all I’m thinking about right now,” Victor said.
Victor is interested in the educational aspect of music too, as he currently teaches Grade 5 Band as an independent study. He also shares his musical knowledge with students through ASL’s Music Mentorship Program, an initiative for high school students to gain experience in teaching and for middle school students to gain additional music help outside of the classroom.
Nathan envisions herself majoring in music and gaining experience through internships, whilst continuing to sing and compose music throughout her four years of college.
Rechler plans to major in acting, and is in the midst of preparing for university auditions. He will be travelling to New York at the start of February to attend the National Unified Auditions [Unifieds], where associates from the schools that Rechler has applied to will observe his audition.
“I definitely want to be in the arts. I may find, when I’m in college, that performing every night may not be for me,” Rechler said. “[But] as of now that’s my goal, to be an actor.”
Although Letrou-Papamarkakis is slightly further away from the college process, she knows that she wants to major in music. “I am interested in cultivating my music skills, but I’m more interested in the business side,” she said. Her dream job is to be a music producer. “I’m not really sure about performing, obviously I’d love to do that in my free time, but I don’t think I’d want to be a performer for the rest of my life.”
Even if Nathan doesn’t end up pursuing music as an adult either, she will continue singing for the rest of her life, eve if it’s not professionally. “I’m pretty much [singing every day], and even if it’s in the shower, I’m still singing.”