Southern Regional Students Land Jazz Gig With New York Voices

Dec 06, 2017

Soon after they return to school following the holiday break, the Southern Regional High School vocal and instrumental jazz ensembles will get the opportunity for a once-in-lifetime experience, when the 41 students are scheduled to perform with New York Voices.

The critically acclaimed four-person group, known for its close-knit voicing, inspired arrangements and unparalleled vocal blend, is coming on Friday, Jan. 12, to the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts at Ocean County College for an 8 p.m. concert. Earlier in the day, the high school vocal and instrumental jazz ensembles will be joined by Southern’s concert and select choirs for a master class with New York Voices.

“These are Grammy Award-winning artists who are world renowned in the jazz field, and it’s going to be such an awesome musical experience for our students to stand next to, listen to and interact with them,” said SRHS choral director Carolyn Placa. “And then to be able to perform with them, it’s going to be an incredible opportunity! This is not just a moment, but a memory that will last a lifetime.”

For nearly 30 years, New York Voices members Kim Nazarian, Peter Eldridge, Lauren Kinhan and Darmon Meader have refined their musical story to a high art. Their chameleon-like musicianship allows them to move seamlessly from setting to setting, be it orchestral/big band to the intimate trio lineup. Their success over the years has vaulted them right up there with many great jazz vocal groups that have come before them, such as Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, Singers Unlimited and The Manhattan Transfer.

“Last year, our vocal and instrumental jazz ensembles did really well at the New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival, and that opened the door for us,” Placa said. “Also, our vocal department also won the Salute to Ocean County competition at OCC, and Mark Wilson then helped organize a way to make this extraordinary opportunity happen.”

The Southern Regional vocal jazz ensemble has 20 members, and the instrumental jazz ensemble has 21. Southern’s students are the only high school students in the state slated to perform with New York Voices on Jan. 12.

“This is something that was never possible for me as a student. I never had this kind of opportunity,” Placa said. “The fact we were able to coordinate this is so exciting. Through this experience, even if it’s one day, our students will gain such an appreciation for jazz music that it might open new doors to them. And ultimately, it will help them become better musicians.”

The vocal jazz ensemble includes Koryn Chanda, Stanley Cutts, Morgan Damato, John Diamantopoulos, Larry Giberson, Emily Gioe, Reece Goodson, Shane Heck, Katrina Heidenthal, Leah Kowalski, Matteo Mastrogiovanni, Adina Paciello, Alex Pallen, Joshua Pires, Madison Rohrer, Carly Sica, Nicholas Somodi, Luke Suddeth, Alexa Tabbacchino and Olivia Rose Tilton.

The instrumental jazz ensemble includes saxophonists Owen LaRocca, Amanda Rutkowski, David Connelly, Ian Green and Tanner Klos; flutist Morgan Steichen; trumpet players Adonis Mellomida, Zach Lohrmnn, Andrew Beck, Abigail Steichen and Shawn Reed; trombone players Matthew Kokai, Bethany Martin, Griffin Wagner, Colin Rutkowski and Simon Bunce; and rhythm crew Jack Bonacorso, Daniel Sullivan, Hannah Schwartz, Kaylee Bradd and Steve Skokan.

Discounted group ticket pricing of $30 per person is available to the public by emailing Jaclyn Wood at Tickets also are available to purchase for $35 by visiting

— David Biggy

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