Kathleen Dessert’s favorite musical experiences have been performing in musical theater and singing.
Dessert — Katie, to her friends — is a vocal major, studying music education at SUNY Fredonia. She said she would love to teach elementary general music while staying involved in choirs and musical theater. The soprano also plays piano, flute, guitar and ukulele.
Dessert, a 2018 graduate of Le Roy Junior-Senior High School, was that year’s recipient of the Genesee Wyoming Music Educators Association John Mikulski Career Music Scholarship. She is featured this week in the association’s virtual concert series, which began seven weeks ago.
For her performance, Dessert sings “I’m a Person Too,” accompanied by Loretta Scherrer.
The two-minute video finds Dessert singing the fifth song of Leonard Bernstein’s “I Hate Music!,” an often lighthearted cycle of highly amusing songs written from a kid’s perspective. The cycle, composed early in Bernstein’s career, is said to highlight the gifts and versatility of the composer’s skill.
The 16-line “I’m a Person Too” performed by Dessert is the cycle’s final piece, a thoughtful and poignant observation of youthful curiosity with a nod toward the complex relationships between children and adults.
Dessert sings about liking balloons, soft things and movies and horses and warm things and red things, and ponders what’s behind the sky, and what’s behind what’s behind the sky. At the same time, she expresses frustration at the way adults pander to her likes and her curiosity, before ending with a powerful “Though I’m only 10 years old; I’m a person too, like you!”
While at Le Roy, Dessert said her favorite music experience was performing as Ariel in “The Little Mermaid.”
Dessert, the daughter of Donald Dessert and Jeanne Connor Dessert, participated in several musicals at Le Roy, was a member of Marching Band, Knightengales and Jazz Band. She was recognized at the county, area and state level for various music ensemble work.
Her favorite musical experience so far at Fredonia has been performing the Verdi “Requiem” under the direction of Dr. David Rudge. She was also looking forward to performing with the Fredonia choirs in Washington, D.C., during a celebration of the 100th work of composer/arranger Stacey V. Gibbs, who is considered the world’s leading arranger of African-American spirituals.
Dessert’s favorite performance venue is Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre in Rochester. It is where she performed with the 2017 New York State School Music Association Conference All State Treble Choirs. One of the favorite pieces the choir performed that night was Holst’s “Hymn from the Rig Veda.”
She recently put together a virtual ensemble for the Fredonia chapter of the National Association for Music Education
“It was a lot of fun,” she said, and “is hoping to do more in the future that will involve chapters from all around the state.”
Dessert’s main role models have always been her teachers. The most influential have been Dr. Patricia Corron, an associate professor of voice at Fredonia, and Jacqueline McLean, a vocal music teacher at Le Roy Junior-Senior High School.
Outside of her musical activities at Le Roy, Dessert was a member of National Honor Society and served as president of the school’s Pride & Allies club. She received a Presidential Scholarshop and the Arc of Genesee Orleans Mary Anne Graney Memorial Scholarship.
The GWMEA is celebrating the talent of high school musicians and recent alumni in a series of social media performances.
The John Mikulski Career Music Scholarship is awarded to two students each year who desire to pursue a career in music. Each year, students interested in the scholarship audition in front of a panel of judges and complete an interview process.
Previous performances in the GWMEA series have included guitarist Lowell Chamberlain of Alexander, flutist Lydia Geiger of Batavia and singers Andrea Gilebart of Batavia, Nicholas Allen of Alexander, and Ross Chua of Batavia; and trumpeter Elise Hoerbelt of Batavia. One more performance is planned for next week.
Performances are posted across the GWMEA’s social media platforms, including Facebook (@GWMEA), Instagram (@gwmeamusic) and Twitter (@gwmea).
The videos will also be available Thursdays on thedailynewsonline.com.
The GWMEA, which includes 11 schools in Genesee and Wyoming counties, works to enhance students’ musical experiences through solo and ensemble opportunities.
The goal of the online performances is to recognize the student musicians while also creating educational opportunities for viewers.