UPPER MERION — In his 20 years of teaching at Upper Merion Area High School, Choir Director Brian Horoho has never taught a student as musically accomplished as Joe Galfi.
The acclaimed young tenor made District Choir and then went all the way to States, where he earned his place to go to the Nationals, to be held in Orlando Nov. 6 through Nov. 10.
"This is an incredibly prestigious honor, one in which very few students get a chance to be a part of," Horoho said. "To my knowledge, Upper Merion has never sent a student to National Choir before. So, as you can imagine, we are very excited and proud of all of the hard work that Joe has put into his craft of singing to be able to reach this level."
Joe's collection of PMEA pins (Pennsylvania Music Educator Association) celebrate the different festivals in which a student has successfully been accepted to participate.
"There are several levels of the festival circuit," Horoho explained. "These festivals are official PMEA events, the state wide subsidiary under NAfME (National Association for Music Education). The first is district choir. Upper Merion is part of District 11, which is comprised of all of the high schools in Bucks and Montgomery counties. Each high school can send as many as 16 students to audition to get into district choir. This audition occurs in November and actually is hosted here at Upper Merion. Usually about 400 to 450 students come to audition. Only 160 students are accepted into District Choir."
Once at districts, the students have the ability to re-audition to enter Regional Choir but the audition region is increased to include the best singers from Montgomery, Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Philadelphia counties.
Still, only 160 voices can be accepted, Horoho noted.
"Once they’ve accomplished that, the students have the ability to audition for All-State Choir. The best singers from all over Pennsylvania compete for about 200 spots. Joe has successfully completed all these levels last year. He then sent in an audition video to compete for the opportunity to sing in Nationals, which this year is hosted in Orlando, November 6 to 10.
Joe, who hasn't decided on a college yet but knows he will major in music education, said that amassing the awards was never really a goal of his.
"It was just learning the material that I had to learn and it just happened that I got as far as I did. I didn't expect to get this far," he said.
Favoring classical over modern music, Joe's favorite piece to bring to life is the popular aria"Sebben, crudele," from Antonio Caldara's 1710 opera, La costanza in amor vince l'inganno.
With Horoho's encouragement, Joe began taking private voice lessons not long ago.
"He can get a perspective from me, but by going to someone different he can improve by gaining a totally different perspective on how to do that craft," Horoho pointed out.
Joe agreed that the lessons have helped to hone his talent.
"Its given me more of a perspective to look at and more feedback from different people so I can put it all together," he said.
Perhaps surprisingly, Joe said he's not really nervous about the upcoming State competition.
"I'm only nervous about meeting the people who will be there, just because I don't know the people who are going," he said.