MAY 2018
Jennifer Crusco
Communications Assistant

Student Composer Revels in ‘Serenitree’ Premiere

Demarest, NJ: This spring, student composer Maria Guyre realized a dream when she conducted the Academy of the Holy Angels Orchestra as they premiered her original work, “Serenitree.” During the Spring Concert, Guyre traded her violin bow for AHA Instrumental Music Teacher Mariann Annecchino’s baton, and the result was breathtaking.

“To my knowledge, this is the first time a student composition was featured at an AHA concert,” Annecchino stated. “The complexity of the process and the creativity and diligence required to create the composition are equivalent to what goes into creating a computer program, and Maria deserves a tremendous amount of respect and acknowledgement. There are no awards or prizes for her, simply the satisfaction of having created a beautiful piece of music.”

Commenting on her experience, Guyre said, “I was so nervous and excited to be up there in the conductor's podium about to conduct my own piece! When I heard my piece, I wanted to cry because of how beautiful it sounded, but all I could do was smile. I felt so grateful for my classmates because they made my dream come true,” the River Vale resident stated.

Guyre, a member of the AHA Class of 2019, began composing music two years ago.

“Composing was always a dream of mine, but I always thought it was too much work and I didn't know enough to get it done,” she explained. However, after moving to the United States from Spain in 2015, Guyre became immersed in music at AHA and the Thurnauer School of Music in Tenafly.

“I began to learn a lot more about music and music concepts that gave me the knowledge to start composing,” she explained.
“Serenitree,” took root when Guyre started to take music theory classes at both AHA and Thurnauer. The piece began with writing a melody and working out harmonies. This was the beginning of a year-long process.

During music theory class, Annecchino challenged Guyre to develop her piano composition into an orchestral piece, and hoped for the best, knowing that her student would face numerous challenges. Some of those challenges are deciding what instruments play what lines, whether the melodic lines should be broken up, what key to use, and understanding the technical capabilities and limitations of the instruments being used.

“I started the piano score of ‘Serenitree’ in January 2017, and it took five months to finish. As soon as I finished it, I went to Mrs. Annecchino with my score and played it for her. She liked the piece, so she suggested that I arrange it for a group of my choice, and I decided to do it for full orchestra. Over the summer, I worked on my piece, and it took over two months to arrange and orchestrate ‘Serenitree.’”

Guyre revealed that, when she started to arrange her piece, she thought she might never finish it, due to the complexity of the work. Rather than abandon the piece, Guyre chose to persevere.

“As soon as I went back to school, now as a junior, I showed my score to Mrs. Annecchino and she told me to check it over and create the individual parts for the players and hand it out in the orchestra. I corrected a few sections and, in January 2018, I finally gave it to the orchestra.”

Guyre was still making adjustments to her work at that point.

“The first time that the orchestra played it through, I honestly felt very scared since that wasn't at all what I expected it would sound like, but I knew that it would come together if my fellow classmates and I would put enough effort into it, and they did,” Guyre said.

Throughout her experience, Guyre learned to appreciate the music she performs and the effort it takes to create.

“I also learned to appreciate my conductors more, especially Mrs. Annecchino. Now I know how much work it takes to make an orchestra sound unified.”

Guyre added, “I've always been interested in music but, the more I do in music, the more interested I am in it. Music is an essential part of my life. I don't know what I would do without it! I definitely want to keep studying music in college. I never want it to stop being part of my life since I'm so interested and invested in it.”

In addition to her work as co-concertmaster/violinist with the AHA Orchestra, Guyre is also involved with the AHA Handbell Choir, String Quartet, Vocal Ensemble, and Concert Choir. She is also a member of the Tri-M (Modern Music Masters) Honor Society.

Annecchino described Guyre as one of the most highly motivated, hard-working students she has ever taught.

“Her commitment to her personal musical growth and to the cause of music in general is intense,” Annecchino said. “She is always looking for ways to grow and is always making connections, a valuable tool for success. The wonderful thing about Maria is she doesn't just think about things; she acts on her ideas.”

Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in Bergen County. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious high school serves young women from a broad spectrum of cultural and religious backgrounds. Over time, thousands of women have passed through AHA’s portals. Many go on to study at some of the nation’s best universities, earning high-ranking positions in medicine, government, law, education, public service, business, arts, and athletics. The Academy’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, by offering a first-rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity, and service to others.


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