High School Vocalists to Compete at SONGBOOK Regionals this Weekend in New York


High school vocalists from New York and Connecticut will compete on Saturday, June 15 at a regional for the Great American Songbook Vocal Academy & Competition. Sponsored by the Michael Feinstein Great American Songbook Initiative, the annual endeavor is the only U.S. competition dedicated solely to the music from Broadway, Hollywood musicals and the Tin Pan Alley era of the early to mid-twentieth century.

"Through this competition, we are reaching a new generation to teach this music and the American history that inspired and influenced these composers," said Michael Feinstein, the Initiative's founder and noted American Songbook ambassador.

The Northeast regional is taking place at DR2 Theatre at the Daryl Roth Theatre, 103 East 15 Street (East of Union Square). The regional features 10 high school vocalists. The public is invited to attend a free performance by the competitors at 7 p.m. in the DR2 Theatre.

The Northeast regional competitors are:

Bailey Olean: Rochester, NY - Joseph C.Wilson Magnet High School

Ben Reisinger: Penfield, NY - Penfeild High School

Brandon Ocasio: New York, NY - LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts

Cristobal Arias: New York, NY - LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts

Hannah Walpole: Pittsford, NY - Pittsford Mendon High School

Julia Goodwin: Baldwinsville, NY - Durgee Junior Senior High School

Michael Ranalli: Skaneateles, NY - Skaneateles High School

Nicole Bocchi: New York, NY - LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts

Sam Kyzivat: Simsbury, CT - Simsbury High School

Samantha Ruvolo: New York, NY - Columbia Prepatory High School

Judges will select students at regional competitions held in five cities across the country. The regional competitions, held May-June 2013, include a full day of workshops followed by an evening performance. Two finalists will be selected in each region. The ten regional finalists will be invited to the Feinstein Initiative's headquarters in Carmel, IN, July 21-26, 2013, to participate in a five-day "boot-camp" on interpreting and performing the music of the Great American Songbook. Five-time Grammy nominee, Michael Feinstein, and other top music industry professionals will conduct workshops and master classes throughout the week. The final competition performance will be held in the 1,600 seat Palladium Concert Hall at the Center for the Performing Arts.

The first place winner receives $3,000 and the chance of a lifetime: the opportunity to perform with two-time Emmy and five-time Grammy Award nominated entertainer and founder of the Feinstein Initiative, Michael Feinstein. The first place winner will serve as the Great American Songbook Youth Ambassador for one year and will have opportunities to perform throughout the year. Second place will receive $2,000 and third place will receive $1,500 toward continuing music education.

Regional finalists for the 2013 competition will be selected from the following eligible states: Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Wisconsin.

Northeast Regional mentors and accompanist include:
Catherine Russell is a native New Yorker born to musical royalty. Her father, the late Luis Russell, was a pioneering pianist/composer/bandleader, and Louis Armstrong's long-time side-kick. Her mother, Carline Ray, is a bassist, guitarist, vocalist, who has performed with Mary Lou Williams and International Sweethearts of Rhythm. Catherine's professional life began early. After graduating with honors from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, she embarked upon a rich journey backing artists like Carrie Smith, Steely Dan, David Bowie, Cyndi Lauper, Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, Michael Feinstein, and Rosanne Cash. Her 2006 debut album Cat, (World Village/Harmonia Mundi), garnered rave reviews, paving the way for her 2008 sophomore release, Sentimental Streak. The acclaim has enabled Catherine to join elite company on various compilations, including the Soundtrack Album for the award winning HBO-TV show "Boardwalk Empire", NPR's "The New Jazz Divas", "Putumayo Presents Rhythm & Blues", and "Walkin' and Swingin'" from The Kennedy Center's Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival.

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