Holly Gyenes Selected for Pro Disney Acappela Group

Kettering Fairmont alumna Holly Gyenes was recently hired by Disney to be a founding member of their new professional touring a cappella group, D Cappella. To get an idea of this new group, here’s the description from the official casting call notice:

Disney Concerts is teaming up with a cappella legend Deke Sharon ("Pitch Perfect" music arranger) and Creative Director Jim Millan to create "D Cappella," a Pentatonix-style vocal performance show built around a 7-voice part group of performers (Soprano, Mezzo, Alto, Tenor, Baritone, Bass, and Vocal Percussion). "D Cappella" will present new, contemporary arrangements of Disney repertoire.

Holly is a former student of the KMS and KFHS choirs. During her time as a Firebird, Holly performed lead roles in the KMS and KFHS musicals, including Cosette in “Les Miserables.” Holly was a soprano in both Symphonic Chorale and Eleventh Hour. During Holly’s Senior year in Eleventh Hour, the group both released the studio album “Tightrope” and won a Gold Medal in the Champions Division of Pop Music in the World Choir Games.

After graduation, Holly attended the University of Dayton where she furthered her vocal study. She is a founding member of the professional group Vocalight and a staff member at Camp A Cappella. It was this depth of training that propelled Holly through over 1,500 auditions to the final cast of just 14. Music producer Deke Sharon said, “She’s simply spectacular! Kudos to an Ohio girl for delivering in the biggest casting office on Broadway!”

Congratulations to Holly on this amazing achievement! Stay tuned to this website and our social media for updates as to when and where you can see D Cappella on tour this year.

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Kettering Music Alum Receives Prestigious Young Jazz Composer Award

Check out Kettering Music Alum Chris Ott who recently was awarded a 2017 Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award from the ASCAP Foundation.  You can check out more about the award at https://www.ascap.com/press/2017/02-16-herb-alpert-young-jazz-composer

The always-humble Mr. Ott said announced on his facebook page:

"Was a treat to attend the @theascapfoundation awards this past week as a recipient of the Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award. You'll be able to hear my piece "Change" in its most pimped out form on @huntertonesband next record#foryourcertificates #toottoot — at Jazz at Lincoln Center."


Bryan Sharpe - @KettMusc Alum "Arranging" His Music Career!

Bryan Sharpe is a 2008 Kettering Fairmont graduate who was extremely active in the music department as a trombonist and vocalist.  We reached out to Bryan and asked him to share his story of how he went from the KMS trombone section to become a nationally-known choral music arranger. This is his story in his own words.

I graduated from KFHS in 2008 and actively participated in both the instrumental and choral programs throughout my four years at Fairmont. During my time at Fairmont and through the encouragement of my various music teachers and directors, I was challenged to write an arrangement for Fusion during my Junior year at the time under the direction of Fairmont alum Rachel (Henry) Mosher. After performing this arrangement throughout the year with Fusion, the arrangement carried over into my senior year and was performed by Eleventh Hour eventually being recorded and landing on Best of High School A cappella 2008. Though this particular arrangement may have left plenty to be desired from a musical standpoint, it was certainly the launching pad that began my trajectory in arranging.
Fortunately, after graduating from Fairmont and proceeding to Wright State to study music education, my former high school directors continued to educate and invest in my arranging interests. I soon began arranging for Eleventh Hour and before I knew it, due to Brody McDonald’s gracious recommendations, began arranging for more and more a cappella groups across Ohio and eventually the country.
Fast-forward to 2012 as I was graduating from Wright State and as Brody McDonald was working on his first book with Alfred Publishing, A cappella Pop. As Brody was developing this book and beginning a relationship with Alfred’s editor, he (again, graciously) introduced me to his editor at an OMEA conference where I provided him with some samples of my work. Hoping for the best but trying not to get my hopes up too much, I was approached by Alfred about publishing an arrangement of Forget You by Cee Lo Green which I arranged for Eleventh Hour. Needless to say, this was pretty cool but I honestly thought this would be a one and done kind of deal.
As the Forget You deal was developing, I was also beginning my first job out of college. Call it fate, a happy accident, or dumb luck, this first job happened to be for The Lorenz Corporation, a print music publisher in Dayton that is prominent in both school and church markets of the music industry. My position at Lorenz afforded me the immense fortune of developing relationships with our editors and composers and the ability to learn from them, examine their talents, and research the market on a day-to-day basis. At this point I began expanding my writing and arranging interests and endeavors from mostly pop a cappella music to more traditional choral music, both sacred and secular. Through plenty of arrangements that missed (and currently miss) the mark, the feedback, criticism, encouragement, and opportunities from the mentors and colleagues with whom I work closely has continued to challenge my writing and musicianship.
To date, I’ve completed approximately 500 commissions for choirs and a cappella groups and have over 20 published arrangements and compositions in print. I couldn’t be more sincere when I credit the music department at Fairmont for its contribution to my career and the supremely talented and invested music faculty at Fairmont for being remarkably good at what they do to educate, inspire, and challenge their students until graduation and beyond.

-Bryan Sharpe


Check out his bio on Alfred Music



Meet Marcia Neel - Nationally Known Music Ed. Consultant and Kettering Music Alum!

Michael Berning, coordinator of music for the Kettering Schools, had a chance meeting with Marcia Neel several years ago at the OMEA Professional Development Conference.   "Marcia was giving a presentation on a subject I was interested in and it had been a really long conference day..I snuck in the back of the room and grabbed a seat just in time to hear her tell the packed house that she started her interest in music in Kettering Schools" Berning recalls.  "I honestly can't remember much about her presentation but I knew I had to stick around to meet this dynamic educator and speaker afterwards."  Since that first meeting Berning and Neel have kept in touch sharing thoughts and inspiration about music education, often catching up on twitter.  Berning and the Kettering music team hosted Marcia at Fairmont a year or so later for a day of observations and sharing.  "Marcia is certainly a major player in the music education scene nationally and we are so proud to call her one of our very own!" 

More about Marcia Neel:

A veteran of 37 years in public school music education, Marcia MacCagno Neel has directed successful choral music programs in Connecticut, Ohio, Massachusetts and Nevada. She graduated from Fairmont West High School in 1967, where she was an active participant in the Choral Music Program directed by Gene Seeberger. Marcia fully credits Mr. Seeberger for cultivating her love of choral music education through the many conducting and accompanying experiences he provided her over the five (5) years that she sang with him beginning in the 8th grade at Barnes JHS. She received her Bachelors Degree in Music Education, with a concentration in Choral Music, from Miami University and her Master of Arts Degree in History and her administrative credential from the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

Marcia was subsequently appointed Secondary Fine Arts Supervisor for the Clark County School District—the nation’s fifth largest—headquartered in Las Vegas, NV, where she served for 14 years. During the course of those years, she led the Secondary Music Education Program to a total class count of over 55,000 in 56 middle and 38 high school music programs and over 100,000 in Secondary Fine and Performing Arts overall. Her greatest pride was in knowing that all of the students in each of the district’s secondary schools were provided with an equal opportunity to study music.

Elected to numerous leadership positions, Marcia has served as Western Division President of NAfME; President of the Nevada Music Educators Association (two separate terms); and President of the Nevada Choral Directors Association. She was appointed by two Nevada governors to sit on the Goals 2000 Panel and in that capacity, co-chaired the team responsible for the writing of Nevada's Content Standards in Arts Education. In 1993, The Disney Channel selected Marcia as their National Performing Arts Teacher of the Year.

Marcia now serves as president of Music Education Consultants, Inc., a consortium of music education professionals which works with a variety of educational organizations, arts associations, and school districts to foster the growth and breadth of standards-based, music education programs. She also serves as Education Advisor to the Music Achievement Council, a 501(c)(6) organization whose purpose is to enable more students to begin and continue in instrumental music programs through effective professional development programs for music educators and was recently named Senior Director of Education for Yamaha Corporation of America’s Band and Orchestral Division.


Kyle Kremer - Trumpeter/Astrophysicist

Kyle Kremer is a 2008 Fairmont graduate.  He is one of four Kremer brothers to play trumpet in the Kettering Band program, YES 4!  His interests in Music and Science have taken him to some amazing places and now he is combining them in a new project he calls "Cosmos in Concert."

In a recent email exchange Kyle shared some thoughts on his educational experience at Fairmont. 

"I had a great experience as both a music student and a science student at Fairmont, which made it difficult to choose just one of these fields when I started college. Rather than choosing, I decided to pursue a double major in physics and trumpet performance at Northwestern.I have found my musical training indispensable to my scientific pursuits.  A successful career in science goes far beyond the ability to solve equations. Scientific research demands problem solving, creativity, and the ability to communicate and collaborate with others. A musical instrument is a fantastic tool for developing these skills. My musical education, which began in Kettering's first-rate music program, helped lay the foundation for a successful career as a scientist.
I have constantly found that my experience as a musician has given me a leg up in these aspects. A musical instrument is a fantastic tool!"

Michael Berning, Kettering Director of Bands, had a few favorite memories of Kyle to share-  "When I think of Kyle my first memory was an extremely proud moment- watching Kyle perform the Artunian Trumpet Concerto as a soloist with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra at the Schuster Center.  We took the entire wind ensemble on a field trip to see his performance - it was wonderful!"  A second recollection involved all 4 Kremer boys.   "One fall, while Kyle was at Northwestern, he contacted me with the idea of performing the trumpet trio "Bugler's Holiday" with his two younger brothers who were still in the Fairmont band program over the holidays.  I took him up on the offer and we even threw in some "shtick" with the youngest brother, Luke, who was still in elementary school, appearing on stage for a special encore blurting out some quickly learned "notes!"   "That was truly a special moment for a special family of musicians - years later a photo of that performance is still featured on the Tradition/Excellence/Pride banners hanging in the band room"

The Brothers Kremer Performing "Bugler's Holiday"

The Brothers Kremer Performing "Bugler's Holiday"

Mr. Jeff McManus, Fairmont Physics teacher had some additional comments to share when recently discussing Kyle and his training in the fields of science and music.    

"Certainly both pursuits require relentless discipline if they are to be done well.  That's something that set Kyle apart.  He was not satisfied with almost solved this right, or almost played this right.
Research is clear on the positive effects that musical training has on the brain in general, and on scientific thinking specifically.  But Kyle demonstrated to me that scientific training can benefit those learning music.  For instance, there are certain rules or forms in science that are expected to be followed if one communicates scientifically with others.  But the real geniuses in science are those that bend the rules a little, or propose a form that is a little different than the conventional.  This is how new truths in nature are discovered and progress is made.  In music, that would be called creativity and interpretation, which are what separate excellent musicians like Kyle from those that are just playing the notes on the score."

Kyle's latest project combines his love of music and science in a very profound and creative way.   Please take a moment to check out his work.


Ben Winters 2002 @KettMus Alum - Concert Percussionist Turned iOS Developer


We recently came across some online information about iOS apps being developed by Kettering Music alum Ben Winters.  Ben is a 2002 Graduate of Fairmont who has taken several interesting career paths since leaving the halls of FHS.  We had a great time catching up with him!

Ben was a member of the Fairmont band and percussion programs who practically lived in a practice room.   Director of Bands Michael Berning recalls writing letters of recommendation to several prestigious music schools for Ben.  "I always try to write about something that stands out and for Ben it was his living in the practice room."  Berning wondered about his recollection so he dug up that recommendation letter from the dusty archives and this is a small quote from it.

"Ben’s dedication to his musical studies is best demonstrated by his time spent in our practice rooms.  He is notorious in our program for living in the practice rooms. No matter how late I may stay in the band office I have to ask Ben to leave the practice rooms on my way out.  My familiar “Ben you have two minutes” is my farewell to him most every evening.

Mr. Berning also recalls many years ago receiving a program in the mail with a note from Ben who had just performed in a modern music ensemble at Carnegie Hall.   While Mr. Berning couldn't locate that program any longer he did uncover a newsletter article he had written in 2008 about that surprise in the mail.

After a few facebook messages and emails with Ben, Mr. Berning asked if he would contribute a few words for the new alumni section of the Kettering Music website.  This is the note he received from Ben today.

"It's hard to trace the steps and influences that led to my current work as an iOS developer. I began studying percussion in the 6th grade, became serious about it at Fairmont (class of '02), and earned a bachelor's degree in music performance. I performed in music festivals around the US and Europe, but ultimately decided that only part of my identity could be realized in the concert hall.

I returned to school for a second bachelor's degree in finance, studied abroad in Paris, and then worked in marketing for four years in Shanghai. While Shanghai taught me much about myself, it was difficult to find a fit without technical skills or experience, especially when compared to local graduates who worked for significantly less. In truth, I had been avoiding a key question, "How do I create value for employers and customers?" I didn't have a clear answer, so I returned to the US and worked to develop a more compelling one.

After a decade of post-graduate trial and error, I found my most fulfilling work at the intersection of my experiences, work that I am uniquely qualified to do. It combines self-taught programming skills with a deep understanding of the problems that my music and finance apps are solving. And importantly for me, it is not only creative, but also entrepreneurial and practical. In hindsight, it's clear that I was always a programmer, I just didn't know it yet. Now I do."

Thanks to Ben for taking time to send us a few words.  You can check out Ben on Twitter at https://twitter.com/blwinters or www.blwinters.com where you can find links to some of his latest work. 


@KettMus Alum Caitlin Crabill to Perform with Sarasota Opera


Soprano Caitlin Crabill (FHS Class of ‘08, Symphonic Chorale, Eleventh Hour) was selected as Apprentice Artist with Sarasota Opera during their January-March 2017 festival season. She will take part in productions of Puccini's Madama Butterfly, Poulenc's Dialogues of the Carmelites, and Montemezzi's L'amore dei tre re

Caitlin completed her masters at Oklahoma City University in 2016 where she appeared in the title role of Puccini’s Suor Angelica and as First Lady in Mozart’s The Magic Flute.

Congrats to Caitlin! We knew you when...