News and updates

Greetings to you SDSCPA community! In this issue the music department celebrates Black History Month: the innovators, the pioneers, and the artists who have influenced our society through music. Their stories, often untold and forgotten, are OUR stories and are part of our human melody. Here we remember and honor three artists who took a stand against a system of hatred and inequality and changed the hearts and minds of many through the power of solidarity and their music. We hope that their lives, music, and stories inspire you!
Donald White — In 1957, he became the first African American musician to join the Cleveland Symphony, one of the five major U.S. symphony orchestras at the time! Check out this video of daughter Diana White-Gould re-telling the story of how her father along with Maestro Szell and other orchestra members fought against segregation while on tour in Birmingham, Alabama in 1961.

Marian Anderson In 1955, Marian Anderson (contralto) became the first African American to sing at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. However, she also brought attention to discrimination when she performed at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. in 1939. Originally, she was meant to perform at Constitution Hall, but was denied by the Daughters of The American Revolution (DAR) and the D.C. Board of Education.

As detailed in UCLA's headnotes on the film, in early 1939 the Daughters of the American Revolution declined music impresario Sol Hurok's request to book Marian Anderson into its Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. Her race was evidently the reason. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt then resigned from the DAR, an act that increased public awareness of the controversy. Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes arranged for a concert on the Lincoln Memorial steps. On April 9, 1939, Marian Anderson sang before a live audience of seventy-five thousand and a national radio audience of millions more.

Louis Armstrong — Perhaps the most iconic jazz musician in history, "Pops," his trumpet, and his voice had an influential career that spanned five decades.

Please enjoy this slideshow about Armstrong made by SDSCPA students Dorothy Sevillano (class of 2021)
Wesley Retez (class of 2023)
Khalea Bautista (class of 2022)
John Bariring (class of 2024) 
Click here for general school info!
I'm Rachel Samuelsz and this is my first year at SCPA. I am absolutely thrilled to be here, and it is an absolute dream to be at a school that values the arts so much. A school that pritoritizes them and really understands their value in the education world. 

I am passionate about building community and creating a space that is welcoming to every single choir student. Being involved in a choir, whether it’s directing it or singing in it, is one of my favorite things in the world. There is nothing like singing in a choir. You get to bring all sorts of people and all different levels of skill sets together to to create and communicate in ways that plain words cannot. Singing is very vulnerable. Your voice and body is your instrument. Our voice is something unique and personal to each of us and we get to bring our voices together to create something truly magical. That’s my word for what choir can be – magical. 

I have been teaching for 15 years, and in that time one thing has remained the same: I love my students, and I love teaching students how to be in a healthy and thriving choir. Being an excellent choir member is different than being an excellent soloist. It requires working together as one cohesive unit. You can’t leave any person behind, and you are really only as strong as your weakest member. I am so excited to cast my vision and build a healthy and thriving choir program here at SCPA. I believe you can make dreams come true, and this is mine.
We are proud to recognize 8th grade orchestra student Liam McRory, an accomplished cellist and member of the SDSCPA Orchestra program. He was SCPA 7th Grade Student of the Year in 2019-2020 and won awards for orchestra and choir. We recognize Liam for being an all-around fantastic student and musician. He exemplifies leadership, passion, and a true commitment to learning and helping others.

I'm Liam McRory (2025), and I've been playing cello for more than four years. I began playing when I was 9 years old at McKinley Elementary, and immediately began independent lessons with Eric Moore. A year later I began studying with internationally accomplished soloist, chamber musician, and educator Dr. Sophie Webber, who is still my teacher and mentor. I especially like cinematic/game music, and I love to travel with my family.
The department recognizes Camryn Knox, because she’s the first to volunteer to do something, and comes to class each day with a smile and cheerful attitude. Ms Samuelsz says she has the pleasure of having her in both her music fundamentals class and choir classes. Her camera is on all of the time, which is a great encouragement for teachers and students.

I'm Camryn Knox (2024), and I'm a singer/actress. I have been singing since I could talk and even used singing as a part of learning how to read. I realized singing was my passion when I was little because It's what I do whenever I am bored, sad, happy, or any other feeling there is. I have done a few auditions for big things including The Voice and America's Got Talent. Still awaiting results for AGT. I do everything I can to ensure that I will continue in my life doing what I love — singing. I appreciate my friends and teachers who have motivated me and helped me continue what I love.
We are proud and delighted to welcome SDSCPA alumni Chans Valdez (Class of 2012) to the music department faculty! Ms. Valdez is teaching a new Middle School course (Exploring Careers) where students focus on professional life after school while building a stronger foundation for success at the high school level.

I'm Chans Valdez, and I'm a San Diego native Filipino-American and SCPA alumni! I grew up surrounded by an influence of cultures: my parents' love for rock and Motown classics plus the expressive hip-hop and R&B scene of Southbay. I began accompanying my church choir at the age of 12. After this I began playing keyboard for musicals at SDSCPA while picking up the violin as a secondary instrument, and I eventually became Concert Mistress my freshman year! At 15 I got to play Keyboard I in my first professional show with the SD Repertory Theatre for the West Coast stage premiere of “Hairspray” (2010) where I got to meet award-winning composer Marc Shaiman. Meeting Marc inspired me to attend SDSU, where I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.M. in Jazz Studies piano while double minoring in Counseling & Social Change and International Studies. While at SDSU, I had the privilege to record a jazz album entitled “Jazztecs."

Aside from playing in big bands and jazz combos, I would often accompany vocal lessons and my instrumental peers for juries and auditions. My experiences led me to play for the San Diego Festival Chorus in 2018 under Tony Mostardo’s last year as conductor before retiring. I am a former director of music at Summit Universalist Unitarian church in Santee, and I currently work with several choirs at SUHSD. I'm excited to teach, and I look forward to sharing what I've learned from my experiences here at SCPA, SDSU, and from working in San Diego. I hope to help students harness their skills and talents to be fully alive and passionate in whatever it is they pursue.
The department recognizes Mia Rivera for her bubbly and exuberant spirit in choir class, as well as her hard-working attitude. Mia is definitely not shy about making jokes (including singing in a hotdog costume!), which brings a much-needed light-heartedness to our zoom class. Mia is always willing to sing when called upon, and she is an encouragement to her peers. Thank you Mia for gracing us with your beautiful personality and stunning voice!

I'm Mia Rivera (2024) and I’m a freshman at SDSCPA. Quarantine has treated everyone terribly, especially people involved in the arts. But through these tough times, I’ve tried my best to continue on improving myself and my passion. Music-wise, I attend weekly, socially-distanced singing lessons with my wonderful vocal teacher. I’ve worked with her for about two years now, and she’s helped me grow so much since my first class with her. Not only do I work on my voice, but I’ve been learning how to play several instruments: ukulele, piano, and guitar. One reason why I’m so motivated to better myself is because I want to pursue the arts as a career. Show business is very difficult to get into, and therefore, I have to continuously grow, always being better than I was the day before.
The department recognizes Ethan Balajadia for his honest, enthusiastic and positive spirit. Ethan is always willing to do whatever it takes to make class time together run smoothly and effectively. He was instrumental in the success of world music presentations in music fundamentals. Ethan also happens to be a talented designer! He designed some pretty extraordinary merchandise for his class. The class all legitimately wanted to buy it! Ethan, thanks for shining bright, we appreciate you! 

I'm Ethan Balajadia (2024), I'm in the 9th grade and I love music. I listen to it everyday and I actually started in a church choir a long time ago. It introduced me to things that I still learn about currently with Ms. Samuelsz. Speaking of Ms. Samuelsz, she has taught me a bunch of new things that I had never heard of before such as all of the elements of music. I love music because it gives me the freedom to be myself and express myself.
We’d like to thank Ms. Anishka Lee-Skorepa, music department resource teacher, for her work with the Semester 1 Choral and music fundamentals classes. Her dedication to her craft and passion helped inspire our SDSCPA students, and she will be missed! We wish her all the best in her artistic endeavors. Please read her bio and check out her latest music video!

Dramatic Soprano Anishka Lee-Skorepa is a cross-border musician living, working, and creating in the San Diego/Tijuana region. Her unique "deconstructed" approach to opera and art song is a product of her artistic individuation from the traditions and institutions surrounding the art form. Inspired by a lifetime of connections she's experienced through music and performance- she set out to create a more accessible and agile version of opera to excite and attract new audiences.

Her album "A Live Mixtape" dropped on January 23, and is an inspiring new approach to traditional opera and art songs. This sound adventure was born of Anishka's desire to harness the power of the operatic voice into an intimate, nimble and accessible experience. The grand classical tradition has been reimagined for voice, piano, double bass, and percussion — featuring works by Verdi, Brahms, Gershwin, and more. Through deconstruction of the music, Anishka and her talented ensemble of collaborative musicians created a texture reminiscent of an orchestra, with all the intimacy of a house concert. Click here for complete liner notes and information about all of the artists involved in this project.
The SDSCPA Music Department is proud to celebrate the recent achievements of some of our most talented musicians!

 YoungArts’ signature program is an application-based award for emerging artists ages 15–18 or in grades 10–12. Selected through a blind adjudication process conducted by an independent panel of highly accomplished artists, YoungArts winners receive financial awards, creative and professional development experiences working with renowned guest artists, and become eligible for nomination as a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts. Joining a 20,000-strong alumni community, YoungArts award winners form a rich network of peers that provides support and opportunities throughout artists’ careers.
Brenda Greggio (Class of 2022) 
Young Arts Honorable Mention for Composition

Brenda Greggio is a sixteen-year-old San Diego-based jazz pianist/musician/composer/singer. She is a student of the Young Lions Jazz Conservatory in San Diego and the Colburn School in Los Angeles. Visit her website here.

Nick Caldwell (Class of 2023)
Young Arts Honorable Mention Jazz Tenor Saxophone 

Nick Caldwell is a 15-year-old tenor saxophonist from San Diego, California. He studies music with trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos at the Young Lions Jazz Conservatory. He was a featured musician at the 2019 Oregon Coast Jazz Party, received an Outstanding Performance in the middle school division of the Downbeat Student Awards, and is a member of the 2020 Monterey Jazz Festival Next Generation Orchestra.

John Murray (class of 2023) 
Young Arts Finalist Jazz Bass 

John Murray is an upright bassist based in San Diego, California. He started playing bass at just 8 years old after being inspired by jazz giants Paul Chambers, Ron Carter, and Christian McBride. In 2018, he received an outstanding soloist award at the Next Generation Jazz Festival. At 15, John started to play professional gigs around San Diego, with Gilbert Castellanos, Christopher Hollyday, Charlie Arbelaez, and many others. In 2019, he was given the honor of receiving the Ella Fitzgerald Outstanding Soloist Award at the Essentially Ellington Festival in New York City. He continues to practice and look ahead to the future, where he would like to attend college to study music. Link to John's YA finalist performance
Mateo Zamora (class of 2021)

Each year the California Alliance for Jazz in conjunction with the California Band Director’s Association select top musicians from all over the state through an audition process for their annual All-State Honor Ensembles. This year students will be working together with leading industry professionals including Gordon Goodwin in a unique virtual project. We congratulate SDSCPA Trombonist Mateo Zamora on his accomplishment! 
The Music Department recognizes Jerimiah Youngblood for his leadership, dedication to the arts, and musical excellence. We thank him for his contribution and commitment to SDSCPA, and wish him the best in this next chapter of his journey!

I'm Jerimiah Youngblood (2021). As a military kid I have many options for schools, though in choosing SDSCPA I made so many musical memories. Being a self-taught violinist I would have never thought that I would have reached the level of success that I have. Being at SDSCPA for just a few years, I was able to perform with the Piano Guys, Gay Men’s Chorus, "In the Heights", "Addams Family", and at a BLM Juneteenth musical protest. I would have never imagined that all these chances were possible in just one short year. Choosing to graduate early allows me to grow and work on myself. Although I don’t plan to go to school for violin, I do plan to major in Biological Sciences/Pre-Med. As of now I have been accepted early action to Reed College in Oregon.
Victoria Matthews was born and raised in San Diego, California. Victoria graduated from San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts as a vocal arts major, then pursued formal education in classical voice and psychology at Point Loma Nazarene University, then transferred to Oral Roberts University where she completed her studies.

Victoria has become known for her versatility in various aspects of entertainment. From soul-stirring Christian music to R&B, musical theater, jazz and classical genres, she shines whenever she has an audience. Prior to pursuing a career in music, musical theater was her platform which landed her roles with all-star casts and presented her with many well-deserved awards, including the 2010 Craig Noel Award for Outstanding Young Actor.

Now an artist signed to Mandate Records, this singer-songwriter is touching lives through her newest single, "Anchored."

Victoria Matthews, singer (SDSCPA Class of 2012) — I am thankful for the many years I attended SCPA. All the plays and productions I was afforded the opportunity to participate in prepared me for professional productions with theater companies and playhouses in other places. SCPA brilliantly set a professional standard in a public school setting. I carry nothing but fond memories from every experience as an SCPA student. Every dance class, choir performance, tour, production, spirit week, and school dance hold a special place in my heart. I’ll forever be grateful for the people who left a lasting imprint in my soul along this journey; amazing individuals like Tamara Paige, Gail McKinney, Bill Doyle, RC Haus, Georgia Moore, Erin Fetters, Sandra Foster-King, Becky Babbey, Principal Farson, Richard Trujillo, and Roxann Hatfield.

Follow Victoria:
I'm Douglas (Dougie) McDonald (2023). I’ve been a musician for a little over nine years. I started playing piano when I was in 1st grade and took lessons until the pandemic hit in March. In 2016, I started playing trumpet and joined my middle school band. I was working towards the school’s jazz band, which I eventually joined in 2017. I also joined the International Academy of Jazz, an after-school small jazz ensemble group. Since then, I have continued to play and enjoy jazz trumpet. I’ve done many concerts and continue to take trumpet lessons. I’m looking forward to continuing playing music throughout the rest of my time at SDSCPA. I also enjoy listening to soundtracks to movies and games. My other passions are watching/playing movies and video games and reviewing them and making videos and short films.
I'm Jazmin Harvey (2022). Ever since I can remember I have been immersed in music. When I was just four years of age, I used the piano as a vessel to transport myself and the people around me to different dimensions of sound. When I was in 6th grade, I joined a jazz program in Arizona. I completely fell in love with jazz music. The music enabled me to communicate my story to an audience through music. The rush of the crowd gave me the energy of a lightning bolt! I have had the privilege to have performed at numerous amazing festivals and venues such as the Essentially Ellington Jazz Festival, The Next JEN Conference in New Orleans as well as many more small and large performance stages.  
I have also had amazing opportunities to perform alongside legends such as Wynton Marsalis, Marcus Printup, Terrel Stafford and Christian McBride! I recently moved to San Diego so that I could attend SDSCPA. It has been another great opportunity to learn from talented teachers and classmates.
Links, information, workshops, alerts! Give them all a click!

After school programs:
Hausmann String Quartet returns for residency with Middle School strings!
April 7 - May 12 (Every Wednesday)
Contact Ms. Paige for more details tpaige@sandi.net

All-Stars Middle School Orchestra begins March 3 and will meet every Wednesday from 1:30-3:30 p.m. Contact Ms. Paige for more details tpaige@sandi.net

Middle School Jazz begins February 17 and will meet every Wednesday from 1:30-3:30 p.m. Contact Mr. Cabrera for more details ccabrera@sandi.net
If you'd like to help the department with supplies for students, click the link below!