Meet our Graduating Seniors

Meet our Graduating Seniors!

Sophia Huellstrunk, Voice

Miss Huellstrunk will be attending Princeton University

Le Violette –  Scarlatti

Sophia wrote:

I am a voice major at HMP, but I also love playing flute and piano! Aside from HMP, I am also in the Princeton Girl Choir, and the lead flute in my Princeton High School Orchestra, as well as in a chamber group in school. I really love music- performing, practicing, composing, listening to music- and I will continue enjoying music at Princeton. Aside from music, I am also passionate about activism and science/math, and hope to continue those, too!

When I entered HMP, I knew I would grow musically. I did not foresee that HMP would impact my whole life. The 4-hour commitment expanded my flexibility and resourcefulness as I learned to balance my academic and extracurricular commitments. In Orchestration, building on AP Music Theory , I learned to orchestrate one melody for many ensembles, not unlike taking environmental research and adapting it for diverse audiences. I am continuing theory at a higher level in 20th century theory, a class that has introduced me to complex music that pushes the boundaries of traditional music. Diction class introduced me to an entirely new language- the international phonetic alphabet. Performance class has given me the courage to get out of my comfort zone and perform in front of others, making me not just a better musician, but also a better presenter and speaker. And, of course, my voice has grown tremendously. Overall, I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to participate in HMP.

Vaibhav Sanjay, Piano

Mr. Vaibhav will be attending University of Maryland, College Park

Vaibhav started his first piano lesson at 7 years old . In 7th grade he started his first year in HMP, and has enjoyed the experiences since. He started taking lessons with his current teacher Ms. Larissa Korkina in 9th grade. His musical experiences led him to receive a grand prize at the International Music and Arts Society Competition, to perform at Merkin Hall in NYC. Additionally, he has received High Honors in the NJMTA competition. Vaibhav’s hobbies include problem solving and computer programming.

Vaibhav wrote:

It is exciting to say that the end of my HMP journey has arrived, not because I will be leaving the community, but because the skills, knowledge, and relationships I have built which will surely lead me to new horizons. I am thankful to the HMP community from enriching my musical journey from 7th grade. From the instruction in theory, to the chamber practices and recitals, I visibly felt myself improving. I looked and played over my past music through the years realizing the amount I was helpfully pushed by HMP and my piano teacher, Ms. Korkina.

Leading up to this final year, the pandemic represented a seemingly impossible task, yet we managed to pull through with technology and mostly our grit. I’m glad that I decided to continue classes and earn the satisfaction of finishing the program with a final recital. This will surely climax my time at HMP, representing all parts of my HMP experience.

Samyuktha Chandrasekar, Saxophone

Miss Chandrasekar will be attending Rutgers University

Playing saxophone in HMP has been a very significant part of my life throughout high school and although I never imagined my senior year to occur in these circumstances, I am incredibly grateful for everyone who helped me finish off my years in HMP strong. To my family, I thank you for always being there to get me to class and giving me the resources to pursue this passion of mine. To my teacher, Dr. Michael VanPelt, I am so grateful for everything you have taught me over the years. From when I started my lessons with you up until now, I have learned so much and grew not only as a musician but also as a person.

I will always look back upon my years in HMP with gratitude and happiness. I learned so much alongside my peers and from all of my teachers that helped me become the musician I am today. Being in HMP taught me not only about essential aspects of music but provided me with such amazing performance opportunities and moments of growth as a performer that I will forever be grateful for. HMP has been an integral part of my life thus far and I hope to carry its lessons through my future. Thank you all!!

Annie Wang, Piano

Miss Wang will be attending the New School, Mannes School of music

Sposalizio from Deuxième Année de Pèlerinage: Italie –   Franz Liszt

It was pretty much a coincidence that I picked up the piano, a mere requirement needed in order for me to go to a kindergarten that offered everyone music lessons. But I kept up the practices in the next however many years until middle school, when I was enrolled in a boarding school for the next three years. Piano wasn’t a necessity for me then, and it seemed a natural decision to halt my private lessons. But I used whatever chance I had to get my hands on the instrument and it went without saying to sign up for regular private lessons again once I settled in the US for high school and could have a piano to practice on again. I studied with Mrs. Miriam Eley at the Westminster Conservatory for the next four years, and joined the HMP program.

Throughout my journey of rediscovering the piano, I’ve slowly surrounded myself with music, finding opportunities around me and being active in school orchestras, music clubs, as well as my classes and recitals from the conservatory. Westminster in particular has helped me to recognize my love for the piano, for music, and anything related to it. I will be attending the Mannes School of Music of the New School in NYC, in hope of furthering this journey that I’ve been so lucky to have embarked on. 

Annie Writes:

When I arrived in the States in 2017, ready to settle down for the next four years, I thought it was a pleasant surprise to discover that not far from my house lies a music conservatory that offers me private lessons, music classes, and three floors full of practice rooms. Little could I have guessed how significant this red brick building would come to mean to me, to say that it had become my second home is to wildly understate. It was in the confines of those rooms that I met Mrs. Eley, my incredible piano teacher. Not only did she guide me on my road to pick up the instrument again, but she has also become a friend that I will always hold dear. Through her, I was introduced to Ms. Filipović, the director of the Honors Music Program, who admitted me into the program despite me falling a tad short of the audition requirements. 

Several hundred words alone can’t describe the experience in these past three years that I’ve spent in the conservatory and how grateful I am for it. As short as that time is, my heart feels full when I think about it all: the Saturday mornings when I’d have a full breakfast and walk the five minute to my first HMP class with a cup of coffee in my hand; the Wednesday afternoons when I’d get lucky and catch the sunset on my way back from an inspiring piano lesson. 

But most of all, it was the community that I cherished the most. I was surrounded by fellow musicians and music enthusiasts, and it was almost as if you can sense the passion that filled the air when you walk in the double doors. Each person I met through the conservatory—teachers, chamber partners, classmates, fellow performers, front desk assistants, and friendly janitors—every interaction, conversation, and collaboration led to waves of happiness and a sense of belonging somewhere. It’s safe to say that my experiences led me to decide that I want to pursue down this path—to continue my pursuit of music and hopefully combine my love for it with my career. Well, perhaps in some alternate universe, I would never have filled out that simple application form back in 2017 but still made the same decision…But the truth is, I wouldn’t have traded those precious memories I made in that red brick building for anything whatsoever.

Martin Mastnak, Piano

Mr. Mastnak will be attending Princeton University

I play the piano and the oud (Middle-Eastern lute) My earliest memories of an involvement of sorts in music are the Bach CDs we always had playing in the house. I would listen to the Goldberg Variations every night as I fell asleep. I was later introduced to the songs of the Middle East through the music of the Nubian/Egyptian singer Mohamed Mounir that we listened to every morning on the way to school. I started playing the piano in the third grade, and I currently study with Mrs. Phyllis Lehrer at the conservatory. I started playing the oud during my freshman year of high school under the instruction of Armenian-American musician and composer Ara Dinkjian. I am fascinated by the music of the former Ottoman Empire and the Balkans, and I love the Western classical repertoire. I have also been fortunate to be a part of Princeton High School Orchestra for the last two years. I joined the HMP program this year as a chamber musician. I will be studying Middle Eastern Studies at Princeton University during the 2021-2022 school year.

Martin wirtes:

HMP has been a wonderful opportunity to further engage in the chamber music repertoire, and I’ve been fortunate to meet other talented musicians with whom I share a passion for music. The opportunity to play chamber music has been one I am extremely grateful for. 

Rishikesh Nayar, Voice

Mr. Nayar will be attending University of California-Berkeley 

Hi!  My name is Rishikesh Nayar (or Rishi for short) and I am a baritone in the Honors Music Program’s Young Artist Division.  I started singing Hindustani classical music when I was seven years old, and in sixth grade, I moved to Westminster and began studying Western Classical voice with my private teacher, Dr. Timothy Urban.  I have also been playing the piano since I was four, and currently study with Dr. Hendry Wijaya.  Outside of Westminster, I enjoy performing in school and honors ensembles, such as my high school Mixed Chorale and a capella group, the All-State Mixed Chorale, the New Jersey Region II Mixed Chorale, and the Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall’s Honors Concert Choir.  In my free time, I enjoy organizing concerts for the residents of the Menlo Park Veterans Memorial Home, where I sing and accompany myself on piano, as well as teaching Hindu spiritual music at my local Hindu temple camp.

Rishi writes:

When I was just starting off as a musician, I, like everyone else around me, focused mainly on performance.  For many years, I studied piece after piece of Hindustani classical voice, classical piano, and Western classical voice.  I, from a young age, had always felt an intrinsic pull towards music, and, indeed, I liked performing and rehearsing solo repertoire.  However, by the time I entered the seventh grade, I started to long for diversity beyond pure performance; I wanted to experience music from a new perspective, in a way that I would not be able to do by simply practicing over and over again.  After learning about HMP later that year and being accepted to the program, I was intrigued by its focus on areas other than performance, but only after joining did I truly realize its true value.  In music history, I learned the social and musical norms that led musicians to compose in a certain style.  In music theory, I studied how composers’ motivations while writing affected the harmonic styles they employed. And in diction, I understood how the various sounds embedded into the lyrics can help bring a story to life.  And HMP didn’t just stop there—I was also able to take classes in conducting, ear training, and much more. Since then, I’ve been using my HMP knowledge to tell my own story through my performances—and those memories will last a lifetime.