This Is Rutherford
This is Danny Fencik
By Jennifer Ersalesi
Photo credits: Danny Fencik
Although Danny Fencik might be able to thank genetics for some of his musical talent and interest (his mother Colleen is an accomplished vocalist and musician), he is also a very dedicated, hard-working student who has been honing his instrumental and vocal skills for many years. Although Danny is a sophomore at Rutherford High School he also has big plans for his future. This is Rutherford spoke with Danny about his most recent accomplishments, his love of music, and his goals.
TIR: You are a very active and involved Rutherford High School student. Can you tell us about your extracurricular activities?
Danny Fencik: Most extracurricular activities that I participate in involve music, including the jazz band, select choir, musical, play, marching band, and saxophone quartet. Additionally, I am in countless virtual ensembles, such as the Virtual Concert Band. When the pandemic began, I was forlorn, as I couldn't perform with others, and I was forced to sing or play my instruments all by myself. But, one day, I came across a Virtual Band that was taking place, in which you record the parts for a specific part, send them in, and the conductor puts it together to make one piece! This is such an important part of my life now. I am performing with musicians from all over the world who adore music just as much as I do. This virtual band also allows me to be able to practice with my mom, who also enjoys performing. Other than music, I am also involved in the GSA, Class Office, and Spanish Club.
Connie DeFazio, retired Pierrepont School Vocal Teacher, was excited to tell TIR more about Danny, “I had the pleasure of meeting and teaching Dan starting in Grade 4. It became clear to me then that he had more than average musical ability. When he joined the cast of the school play (Junie B. Jones) in Grade 6, his vocal talent was obvious. I am so glad he has chosen to continue this musical journey.”
TIR: For how long have you enjoyed singing?
DF: I have enjoyed singing since before I can remember. The most distinct memory that I have of singing is in first grade. I remember singing in Mrs. Boyer's class and loving every single second of it. My passion for singing has only grown since then.
TIR: Has music been a big part of your childhood?
DF: Music has always been a part of my life, and this passion will only continue to grow in the future. From a young age, I realized that music can lessen stress, strain, distress and bring positivity and calmness to our daily life. Music can make us expressive and help us understand our feelings and emotions in a better manner. I’ve also had the opportunity to be a part of the NJ Region 1 Mixed Choir! With the help of Ms. Lalla, I was accepted into this choir in both seventh and eighth grade. While singing with this prestigious choir, I was in awe of the talent around me and how the students could pick up a piece of music and sing it with little-to-no flaws. So far, my life has been influenced by music. These days, I often reminisce about how lucky I am to have this gift and share it with others.
Tricia Lalla, Vocal Music teacher at UMS, told TIR, "Danny's incredible vocal talent and skill were evident upon first hearing him sing in seventh grade. In addition to singing so beautifully during his time at Union School, he was always kind, pleasant, hard-working, and respected by his peers - he was truly a pleasure to teach. It has been a thrill to see his vocal accomplishments over the years. I wish him continued success in all of his future vocal endeavors."
TIR: Do you play any musical instruments?
DF: I do! In addition to choir, I participate in the band, marching band, and much more. I primarily play the clarinets, saxophones, trumpet, and piano. I have tried countless instruments during middle school and high school, and I have grown to love almost all of them. Back in middle school, with the help of Mr. Brigante, I was accepted into NJ Region 1 Band and Orchestra on the bass clarinet. These experiences have helped me appreciate all forms of music. They have also created a foundation for future auditions throughout high school.
"Danny has a tremendous gift and passion for music as both a vocalist and instrumentalist. He is talented, dedicated, and well-trained making him one of the most well-rounded musicians I have had the pleasure to work with,” John Brigante, UMS Instrumental Music Teacher, explained.
TIR: You were recently accepted into the NJ All-State Choir. Can you tell us more about that audition and process?
DF: This audition process was virtual, meaning we had to prepare, record, and submit everything before the deadline. For All-State auditions, we had to prepare two scales, a chromatic scale, and two solos. Preparing the requirements was not difficult, as Mrs. Blanchard has helped countless students make honors choirs like this. But submitting them, on the other hand, was arduous. I remember sitting in the choir room for about an hour in total, trying to figure out how to apply, record, and submit. Nonetheless, recording the audition was a great advantage to me, as I could re-record if I messed up or if I felt like I needed to change something.
TIR: You were recently accepted into the NJ All-National Choir as well. Can you tell us more about that?
DF: Although this experience will be fully-virtual, the audition process was the same as it has always been, virtual. Honestly, I auditioned on a whim, as I never thought a sophomore would be accepted. The only requirement for this audition was a three-minute solo. It was a challenge, especially since I learned the song a day before I recorded it. After recording it multiple times, I submitted it, and about a week later, during play practice, I received the email that I was accepted!
“Danny is such a remarkable student. Not only is he extremely talented, but he is also hard-working, dependable, and ambitious. I am so proud of him for persevering during Covid and continuing to work hard and challenge himself musically. The All-National Choir is quite an accomplishment. Students from all over the country audition, so that means Danny is one of the best tenors in the country. We are so fortunate to have his talents here at Rutherford High School. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for him!” explained RHS Vocal Music Teacher Patricia Blanchard.
TIR: Now that you are in both the NJ All-State Choir and NJ All-National Choir what happens next?
DF: All-State Choir had a total of four virtual rehearsals, all of which were about three hours. We had our final virtual rehearsal on November 17, and I had to record the two pieces before the deadline on November 21. When the virtual performance will come out is still unknown, but most likely within the next month. For the All-National Choir, there will be three virtual rehearsals in January that are all about seven to eight hours long. This will include music rehearsals, guest speakers, masterclasses, and artist clinics. Towards the end of January, we will have to record and submit the pieces we are performing. Soon after, the virtual performance will be released.
"This accomplishment is amazing! The last time we had a student earn this honor was in 2015. Danny's commitment to excellence is second to none. It would not be fair if I did not mention the overall choir program that Mrs. Blanchard has created. She demands the most from her students and this award demonstrates that. I am looking forward to watching Danny continue to grow!" RHS Principal Frank Morano told TIR.
TIR: What are your plans after high school?
DF: After high school, I intend to go into the medical field. I have always felt a love for science and math. This past year, in Mrs. Germain's honors biology class, I vividly remember loving and awaiting the class every day. Her teaching style made biology and the sciences engaging, compelling most of her students to come back and take more of her classes. But does this mean I leave my passion for music? Nope! I had a realization that these two believed to be opposites are more similar than we have previously believed. After that realization, I knew that I would want to go into surgery. It combines medicine and a form of art. Intricacy is a vital part of both fields, and I know that the skills being created today, like singing a piece perfectly, will prove to be helpful in the future. Nonetheless, I know that whatever I do in the future, whether performing at Carnegie Hall or singing in the shower, music will always be a part of my life.
“I am very proud of Danny . To be selected to the state and the national choir obviously requires talent, but it also demonstrates Danny's work ethic needed to maximize that talent. I am also proud that he had the courage to reach for the stars!” explained Superintendent Jack Hurley.
Read more about another one of Danny's past accomplishments here.