Photo by Jeanine Dell’Orfano

Local vocalist and Coginchaug senior Emily Dell’Orfano once again out-sung competitors all the way to the National Honor Choir for the second consecutive year where she sang amongst the best singers in the country. The festival was hosted in Florida from Nov. 24-28.

On her path to Nationals, Dell’Orfano had to pass several tiers of auditions to be eligible for Nationals including auditioning, acceptance, and attendance into her Regional Honors Choir followed by All-State Honors Choir. Once she qualified, Dell’Orfano had to send in a video audition to the National Association for Music Education. With a time crunch of two weeks, the audition required singing a text selection from Shakespeare’s work A Midsummer Night’s Dream: “I practiced it, and I had my father film me singing it a capella a few times… choos[ing] the best version to submit,” explains Dell’Orfano. She also included a supplement video of the piece “Through the House Give Glimmering Light” in addition to the required piece. Her acceptance was announced in June 2018.

Once the festival approached, pressed for time, students jumped into rehearsal upon arrival in Florida. Checking in with Nationals on Sunday, she attended a welcome dinner followed by her first rehearsal. Monday continued with a full day of rehearsals and Tuesday with a full morning of rehearsals in preparation for Tuesday night’s performance. Aside from the time dedicated to group rehearsal, downtime for venturing to Magic Kingdom was worked into part of the itinerary as well as a party with Mickey Mouse, Goofy, and Minnie Mouse. In addition, she and her father worked in time to venture to Epcot and Hollywood Studios before flying home.

Nationals goes to Magic Kingdom Photo Submitted by Emily Dell’Orfano

Being her second year auditioning, she felt a lot more prepared and confident in herself. Dell’Orfano remembers her first experience feeling intimidated by her conductor and her peers, as they were mostly seniors while she was a junior. “I felt a lot more confident in myself [this year], and I felt more… on the same level as everyone else…” she said. “I think it was more of my mindset that changed.”

Aside from traveling to Magic Kingdom, another highlight was getting to make new friends. Being surrounded by people who share the same passion, Dell’Orfano said, “It was really great to meet all these friendly people who…wanted to make friends with you just as much as you wanted to make friends with them.” These people came from all over the country, creating a supportive environment and working together to put on an amazing performance.

Dell’Orfano considers one of the biggest things people have to overcome is having the belief in themselves. “I feel like if you don’t believe that you can ever do something like this, you won’t try” she said. “And people would be surprised how far they can go with whatever they’re doing…whether it be like a talent or sports or even academic.”

Emily is a straight-A student with a rigorous schedule and is a dedicated musician, and like most students, she has to find a balance between her priorities: “When my homework is really heavy, I have to schedule in practice time, but either way, it all gets done.” But once homework is finished, it’s “music all the way.”

Even though Emily was only in one of her classes, Spanish teacher, Señora Alberico, can easily describe Emily as an exemplary student. “She is very serious about learning and very self-motivated… She was very willing to participate and very helpful to other students in the class who sometimes needed help,” Alberico said.

Emily with Mickey Mouse Photo Submitted by Emily Dell’Orfano

Until recently, Emily had been taking vocal lessons since the fifth grade but has now stopped due to her instructor relocating. However, she is also classically trained in piano and took voice lessons for 12 years with her old instructor (who recently moved); she is now continuing her piano studies at the Hartt School of Music. She is a member of all vocal groups at Coginchaug and is one of three Show Choir captains. In addition, she composes and arranges her own songs and is a member of HERO, EDGE, Spanish Honor Society and National Honor Society. In this year’s upcoming spring musical, Emily will be portraying the lead protagonist, Belle, in Beauty in the Beast.

Emily plans to attend college and major in music education. She intends to pursue a bachelors degree in education for K-12, followed by her masters, and a PhD in conducting. She desires to eventually work at the collegiate level as a choir conductor and perform as much as possible.

Through all her experiences, she acknowledges her biggest motivation is constantly trying her best at all times and having no regrets. No matter what she does in life, “putting all of [her] energy, all of [her] heart, all of [her] mind into one thing at a time,” so in the end she will walk away having no regrets. “Just being able to say that I did the best I could, that’s really all I ask of myself, and you know that just propels me so far, and that’s really what helps me grow so fast in whatever I do.”

A word of advice she sends out to everyone is, “Just go for it.”

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