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ACES Arts and Culture Program

The ACES Arts and Culture Program is committed to educating students about how the arts interact with one’s culture and provide opportunities for students to attend arts and cultural events at major performing and visual arts organizations in the DC metropolitan area. Unique programming opportunities include an “Arts Career Workshop”, attending more visual arts/museums, and expanding our dialogue with production staff, artists, and arts administrators. Overall, we were able to reconfirm the value, power, and relevancy of the arts and the effect of culture on individuals, the community and society.

Our program would simply not exist if it were not for the generous spirit of the performing and visual arts organizations who graciously donated complimentary and/or discounted tickets to our program. We invite you to visit them and experience their expertise and community spirit by supporting their many extraordinary offerings! You will not be disappointed!

  • Young Artists of America at Strathmore (YAA)
  • Strathmore Music Center
  • The National Philharmonic at Strathmore
  • The Montgomery College Arts Institute
  • The National Symphony
  • National Museum of African American History & Culture
  • Library of Congress

Gaby Sanchez is presently a junior at Rockville High and a member of our ACES program. She is not only an excellent student, but also a ukelele player, guitarist, and piccolo/flutist in Rockville High School’s Symphonic Band.

I know her as a fabulous musical theater and classical young singer who has found her voice and is enjoying sharing her talents with our community! I found out that Gaby had great ensemble experience in her youth, including being a member of the Children’s Chorus of Washington, and Strathmore’s Children’s Chorus. Once she entered Rockville High School, she was smitten by being in leading roles in her high school’s spring musicals. Just this past March, she played the lead role as the Lady of the Lake in the hilarious musical, Spamalot.

I first heard Gaby perform at the ACES summer 2017 Talent Show, in my new role as Coordinator for the ACES “Arts & Culture” program. When Gaby performed, I was immediately taken by the extreme beauty of her voice, and wanted to work as her vocal coach/mentor. After only 7 weeks of dedicated practicing and consistent lessons, I was amazed at her growth as a mature and exquisite singer. Gaby chose to audition for the Young Artists of America at Strathmore’s (YAA) spring musical theater production, and was accepted into YAA’s vocal ensemble for their concert version performance of Ragtime at the Music Center at Strathmore on Sunday, April 15, 2018, 4 p.m.

I had a chance to talk with Gaby about her past, present and future in the arts! Enjoy!

Ms. DiMedio Marrazza: Tell me about your most memorable past experiences in singing. When did you actually have that “aha” moment, knowing that your voice was YOUR instrument?

Gaby: I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember! I realized that singing was my life when I performed in my first musical at 8 years old! I auditioned for the role of Gretel (the youngest!) in a production of The Sound of Music at Rockville High School. I was SO proud to have been picked out of about 100 kids to play this part. Being in that production was when I fell in love with performing — not only with musical theater…but the actual art of singing—expressively and beautifully.

Ms. DiMedio Marrazza: Let’s fast forward 9 years from your playing Gretel! Just a few weeks ago, you were the lead in Rockville High School’s spring musical, Spamalot. Tell us about that experience!

Gaby: Playing the role of the Lady of the Lake was one of the first roles in which I was able to “show off” what I could do vocally! I was playing the role of a Diva!!! I was really out of my comfort zone since the role required me to scat, and perform “vocally tricky” things. But it made me just jump in and be more daring in trying different things vocally and dramatically. It was such a fun experience! I love the Rockville High School Drama Department!!! Everyone there is family!

Ms. DiMedio Marrazza: Your upcoming performance of the Concert version of Ragtime is Sunday, April 15. Can you tell us about the experience of working in a vocal ensemble as YAA, specifically about your experience working with Rolando Sanz, Producing Artistic Director, on such a production. What lessons are you learning from YAA?

Gaby: YAA is a different and exciting experience. It’s been a while since I’ve been in an environment where everyone is on the same level of me vocally. It has pushed me to work harder…to stand out …as well as sing as a true member of the ensemble. It has pushed me to be better as a singer—AND to definitely be better prepared at every rehearsal!

Ms. DiMedio Marrazza: What is your favorite part about being in rehearsals at YAA?

Gaby: I am amazed at the amount of dedication and excellence that everyone there is putting into this production. I love the work that is required of us; we are being inspired to push mentally and vocally for this production of Ragtime. And, we also have some fun and “crazy” moments—like when Rolando says something so funny; or, just being able to be with the kids on break; it makes it all so much more special!

Ms. DiMedio Marrazza: What are you most excited about for actual performance on April 15?

Gaby: I am most looking forward to the “sound” that we all will hear that day! There will be more than 250 students—that’s 250 voices!!! And, that “power” will not only excite the audience, but those of us singing onstage. I am also looking forward to performing at Strathmore again!

Ms. DiMedio Marrazza: Tell us about your future dreams—school-wise and career-wise. Will you be looking into musical theater or classical voice programs as you begin to apply for college?

Gaby: My goal is to study music education at the college I attend, with a focus on choir/vocal or general music. I really want to teach music at the elementary level, and continue to share my love of music to the next generation.

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