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A “Voice” from the Past Visits Current Students

A “Voice” from the Past Visits Current Students
Jim Norman

Our Varsity Voices students were singing the praises of Jessica Garcia ’19 and her college classmate Olivia Materetsky when they came to campus to offer a workshop and perform live. 

Currently a Human Services major at Northeastern University, Jess is president of the college’s much-heralded Pitch, Please! a cappella ensemble, which has won numerous awards and competitions, earned first place in the collegiate championship on the PBS show Sing that Thing!, and performed live on Today in New York City for International Women’s Day in 2020. 

Jess was very active in the theater and music programs on the hilltop. She and Olivia, a talented vocal percussionist, were happy to share stories about collegiate a cappella life, work face-to-face with Varsity Voices in the morning, and perform later that evening. In fact, it was Jess’s idea to begin with.

“Jess and I have stayed close over the years,” said Sarah Armstrong, Canterbury’s Performing Arts Chair and Choral Director. “When she asked, ‘Can we come and do something at the school?’, of course, I said ‘One hundred percent!’ Anytime our alumni come back and talk about life after high school, it is a great opportunity for our current students to reflect on what they are doing here and what that might look like when they move to the next step.” 

One student getting ready for that next step took particular interest in Jess’s visit. “The workshop session in the morning was great,” said aspiring vocalist Anne Melich ’23. “We got to work closely with them as a group to discuss how we sang together and performed. We also had a chance to get out of our comfort zones with singing, which was really great.”

Sarah shared that Jess is ready and willing to take Anne under her wing as the younger Saint follows in her footsteps. “We are going to pick Jess’s brain to find out what Pitch, Please! looks for in someone who is auditioning,” she said. “Then we can get Annie ready for her own journey.”

The enthusiasm about the visit among Varsity Voices members was unanimous, according to Ava Farual ’24. “Having Jess and Olivia come to class was such a rewarding experience for everyone,” she said. “We learned so much about the physical and mental aspects of singing as well as the art of singing a cappella in college. They are so talented, and it was nice to be able to work with them one-on-one!” 

That excitement was returned tenfold by Jess. “I was thrilled to return to the hilltop,” she said. “This is where I developed my deep passion for singing, and it was surreal to be back knowing how much has happened in my singing life since I graduated.”

And she was just as excited for what lies ahead for the current crop of Saints singers. “I do not think they are fully aware of how formative this experience is for them,” she explained. “Having Mrs. Armstrong as a teacher and continuing my relationship with her post-graduation has been a core pillar of my support system. I love that these students have the same access to that kind of support. And I am beyond impressed with the music they are making!”

Clearly, these Varsity Voices from yesterday and today were in perfect harmony together.