Musical Monarchs

Over the past week, Menchville’s music department has been very active in the Hampton Roads community.

Tuesday, October 18th, Menchville’s Chamber Guitar Ensemble, led by Pete Mercier performed at the annual State of the City Address at the Newport News Marriott in City Center.  The Monarch group played a variety of jazz and swing songs.

Newport News Mayor McKinley Price, City Manager Jim Bourey, City Council members, the School Board, and hundreds of other representatives were in attendance.


Thursday, October 20th, Menchville hosted their annual Fall Chorus and Orchestra concert. Jazz and Girl’s Choir performed before the combined twenty minute mass of Subito, (M)Pulse, and orchestra together.

“As a member of the Honor’s Girl’s Ensemble, I can honestly say we’ve been working hard for the past few weeks, and I’m super proud of our performance,” said junior Ashley Weiss.

Saturday, October 22nd, Sophomore Sam Cornette performed in a masterclass at Christopher Newport University’s Ferguson Center with world classical guitarist Cecil Refik Kaya. Kaya, who started playing at the age of six, holds a Master in Music from the Mannes College New School of Music – and has been touring the world performing. In 2012 he won first place in the JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition, and recently performed with the Virginia Symphony. The workshop mainly focused on left and right hand technique, and the minuscule but important elements of the piece musicians should recognize. Cornette then performed for Kaya, playing “Registro” from  Suite Venezolana No1.

“It was nerve-wracking, being in front of a world famous guitarist that I admire – but was still a good experience. Overall, it was probably one of the better lessons I’ve ever had in my life. His attention to detail was so great, it focused on the microscopic level of everything, which I know benefited me in the long run,” said Cornette. “It wasn’t really stuff that made an immediate effect on me, but rather things that will take time to work on until they become natural. That instilled technique is what a good guitarist is all about.”

Kaya  talked about what he does to practice at such a high level, and about his next album he plans to record in Canada before performing “Mazurka Appassionata” by Barios for the attendees.

“His performance was amazing. He started with no warm up and played flawlessly, something I personally cannot do,” commented Cornette.

The same night, Menchville senior Sterling Elliot returned to the area from his ongoing two month world tour to perform with his group the “Sphinx Virtuosi” at the Virginia Arts Festival at Attucks Theater in Norfolk. Performing at a sold out Carnegie Hall in New York two days later. Featuring “Catalyst Quartet” and “Hannah White”, the concerts’ theme centered around “Latin Voyages: Viajes Latinos.”