By Kaitlyn Delia, Staff Writer
Summit, NJ is a quiet town. It’s a nice place to live with a train station, a YMCA, and a small, safe town square. It’s like every other no-name town on the East Coast- but it has a secret weapon. Summit is also home to the Continuo Arts Foundation, which GLHS Seniors Emily Tinnirella and Kelly Rice will probably tell you is just like every other choir in America… except, not at all, actually.
If you haven’t heard of the Continuo Arts Foundation in Summit, chances are, you will. The choir, which was founded in 2007, has risen to prominence in less than a decade through ground-breaking performances and has recently caught the eye of the esteemed Papermill Playhouse. Through a series of emails conducted with Emily and Kelly, I was able to find out just how Continuo Arts was created and why it’s so successful.
Me: Tell me a little bit about your choir. What’s the name of it, where are you located, for how long has it been established, etc.
Emily: Our choir is named the Continuo Arts Foundation located in Summit, New Jersey. The organization has been established for approximately seven years and still counting.
Kelly: It was founded in 2007, but then it was part of the Wharton Music Center. I believe around 2011, the foundation branched off into its own residence at Twin Maples (located in Summit). It is described as a “charitable organization that furthers artistic advancement by providing national and international performance opportunities, educational enrichment and musical exposure.”
Me: What is your role in the program? What do you bring to the choir?
Emily: In the Continuo Arts Foundation I am President of the Singers group- there are different groups within the organization. The Singers group is a group of select advanced high school girls. As President I am leader of the group and help teach the girls the different music we learn, I hold bonding activities, I help organize shows and events with my Director, Dr. Candace Wicke (Founder of Continuo Arts Foundation) as well as take control of the group with many responsibilities.
Kelly: Currently, I am the Soprano 1 section leader. I have been part of the group since 2009 and have been in the Soprano 1 section since then (except Junior Year I was soprano 2).
Me: What do you feel has been a flagship experience for the choir? Have you gone anywhere or done something really outstanding with the program that’s brought the group to prominence?
Emily: The Continuo Arts Foundation is given many opportunities for the organization. The Continuo Arts Foundation has had the honor to sing inside of Carnegie Hall in NYC, to sing for the Turkish Government, the Prime Minister of Ireland, and is the first American group to have ever sang inside of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, Italy. Though I was not able to partake in the world tour, I did however perform in many shows at Carnegie Hall with the group (3 performances at Carnegie Hall.) The program offers such outstanding opportunities.
Kelly: The best experience with the group was when I traveled to Ireland and Italy in February 2014. The group has never traveled to Ireland before, so that was a new and fun experience for everyone. There, we sang in St. Mary’s Cathedral and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Even though Continuo has been to Italy many times, this experience was different because we were given the opportunity to become the first Americans to hold a performance in the Sistine Chapel, inside the Vatican. This concert marked a new outlook for Continuo as a history making group. Besides the Sistine Chapel, we also sang in St. Peter’s Basilica and the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi.
Me: Finally, what has been your biggest learning experience with this choir? What’s one final thought you have on the choir as far as what it’s meant to you and how it’s changed you?
Emily: I have experienced a lot with the group considering I have been involved for about 7 years now. I have improved immensely on my knowledge for music and I have learned many different ways in viewing my music as well. I have put a lot into the group when it comes to time and patience- all worth the while. Working with my Director was such a huge opportunity as well because never in my life will I meet a woman like her that has so much passion for music. The group has changed me in such a positive way, my love for music is shared with everyone involved in the choir and to share that passion means everything to me.
Kelly: In 2010, we were given an optional performance in the summer (the group’s off season) to perform the Michael Jackson tribute “Earth Song” with Composer Andre Rieu at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ. Compared to what I have accomplished now with the group, this concert seems very minimal, but it was actually the first experience that gave me a taste of what performing is really like. At a young age, I was exposed to an environment that had strict rules for practicing and performing, since this performance was part of Andre Rieu’s tour. This became a major learning experience for me, since I was introduced to it at the age of 12. This choir has changed me to became a more mature singer that is capable of much more. From singing in international locations, to performing in Carnegie Hall, I have gained many once in a lifetime experiences that I will be able to take on with me.