Walking through the doors of Greenwich High School’s $45 million Performing Arts Center, you’re in awe as you hear the harmonious sounds of Greenwich High School’s premier ensembles. With 24 music courses and numerous extracurricular activities, Greenwich High School’s music department provides students with rich opportunities to explore the musical world. GHS offers any program you can think of, from Beginning Band and Intro to EMusic to Honors Chamber Singers and AP Music Theory. So, whether your child is a beginner or a child prodigy, there’s always something that might interest them.
At GHS, students of class of 2023 and beyond are required to earn 1.0 Fine Arts credit in order to fulfill graduation requirements. Though, most students usually surpass these requirements, sticking to a music program throughout most, if not the entirety, of their high school careers. Although students can participate in multiple programs, choosing which ones to take part in can be a difficult decision for students. So, here’s a comprehensive guide to showcase all of these wonderful programs!
There are 3 ensembles within the orchestra program. Composed of freshmen, Concert Orchestra is the first ensemble students are placed in when they enroll in orchestra. This introductory ensemble fosters an inclusive community, allowing students to settle into the new high school setting and bond with their peers. Students then proceed to Symphony Orchestra, which features an “Honors option” for those who would like honors credit. Students in this ensemble explore a wider repertoire of music and are mixed with students of various grades. Lastly, Honors String Ensemble is an audition-based premier ensemble that is designed for the most advanced students. Meeting once a week in the morning, this ensemble provides an excellent opportunity for students who want more from orchestra than their normal orchestra class.
Personally as a member of the orchestra program, I cannot express how much GHS’s orchestra program has influenced my high school experience. Growing up in the district’s orchestra program, the high school program brought orchestra to a whole new level to me. Hearing that I’d have orchestra class almost every day with 40 other people brought a smile to my face, as orchestra class was only offered once or twice a week in classes of 15 at the middle schools. And to add on top of this excitement, hearing that I would go to Disney World with my orchestra friends made me even more glad that I chose to stick to orchestra throughout my entire school career.
“My experience with Orchestra has been amazing as I’ve been given a brilliant opportunity to work with different students and teachers,” says sophomore Melisa Bayram. “The best thing to look forward to is coming to class and being able to make music together. With orchestra class, I have been able to make memories that will last forever.”
As stated by Director of Orchestras, Bethany Fuscaldo, “I've been the director of the Greenwich High School orchestra for 8 years now and every year I grow more and more proud of the students and their successes. When I came to the high school 8 years ago the orchestra was only 85 students. Now the GHS orchestras total nearly 170 students! This is a huge testament to the work being done at the elementary and middle school levels and the exciting opportunities we are able to provide at GHS. The orchestras have won awards at festivals and contests near and far and many of our orchestra members have found individual success and recognition at our region and state level festivals. More than anything, the orchestra at GHS is like a community within a larger one. The students have class with each other for four years and strong friendships and bonds develop as we make music together. The music department as a whole at GHS is an exciting place to be!"
The band program offers classes that mirror that leveling of the orchestra program: Concert Band for freshmen and new students, Symphony Band for most 10-12th graders, and Honors Wind Ensemble as well as Honors Jazz Ensemble for its most advanced members. However, the band program goes further with its array of courses, which also include the following: Beginning Band; Percussion Ensemble; and Jazz Lab Band, a course that many students take if not selected for Honors Jazz Ensemble.
The band program is recognized for its numerous international field trips, including a trip to Cuba. Last year, the band program was run by Dr. Amy Bovin, a renowned music educator, while this year, it is run by former NYU professor, Michael Breaux. Similar to orchestra, the band program also offers a community-based environment.
“GHS Bands is truly a family,” says Avery Imp, a sophomore enrolled in Symphony Band. “With the GHS Band program we’ve not only had the opportunity to improve with playing our instruments but to develop a deeper understanding of musical techniques, music in general, and its importance. There are opportunities like Pep Band, Jazz Band, auditions for Western Regionals, and bonding activities.”
The chorus program is composed of four different courses, three of which are select choirs: Concert Chorus, Honors Chamber Singers - a mixed chorus, Honors Madrigals - a women’s chorus, and Honors Witchmen - a men’s chorus. Unlike the orchestra and band programs, most students, regardless of grade, are enrolled in Concert Chorus, the general choir. Only those accepted through audition can sing in the select choirs.
GHS’s chorus program is well known across the county for its incredible leadership and hard-working singers. With it also having exciting field trips, GHS’s chorus program isn’t left out in fostering an amazing community.
“The environment of singing with many other talented people never fails to make me happy, and being able to do that on a near-daily basis at the high school is an amazing opportunity,” junior Charlie Adorney states. “I first participated in choir in elementary school, and since then, it has remained a massive part of my life.”
Junior Lucie Bai agrees, saying that, “Being in chorus is debatably the best part of my day. Everyone gathers together with a love for singing at a level that keeps you challenged and intrigued. It becomes a tight knit community over your years at high school and it’s so fulfilling to perform a beautiful and polished repertoire at the end of each quarter with people you appreciate.”
And to junior Brooke Hadden, “Joining choir was a given...Music has always been a major part of my life and singing has been something that’s made me completely and utterly happy. Having close friends who sing as well is such a wonderful aspect of chorus and making music with them is the best part of my day. There is something about a blend of voices that’s simply magical to be a part of.”
Electronic Music & Additional Offerings
Now although the past three programs involve performances and concerts, not every music program at GHS does. Our electronic music program is a prime example of this. Run by author and renowned music educator, Dr. Barbara Freedman, the electronic music program provides students with state-of-the-art technology and amazing instruction that allow aspiring producers to have a solid foundation in music production. The annual Performer’s Showcase allows accomplished students to present their projects to the public.
Lastly there are many general music courses for those who would like a traditional music class. At the high school, three of these courses exist: Intro to Music Theory, Guitar, and AP Music Theory.
Whether you look at GHS’s orchestra, band, chorus, EMusic, or general music programs, it’s clear that GHS offers an amazing musical opportunity for its students. Each of these programs aren’t just another class to take or another extracurricular to put on a college application. They’re invitations to join some of the most strongest and inclusive communities that the high school has to offer. So as you exit the Performing Arts Center amazed with all GHS has to offer, I hope that if anything were to stand out about the GHS experience, it would be GHS’s music department.