The Hartt School Community Division Alumni Newsletter December 2017
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The Compass: December 2017

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December 2017

In this Issue

Our HCD Family

ROBERT HUGH, Former Connecticut Children's Chorus director 

By Liz Bologna

Rob HughWe caught up with long-time musician and West Hartford public school music teacher Rob Hugh to ask him about his time as co-director of the Connecticut Children’s Chorus and life after retirement.

Rob Hugh is newly retired after 39 years teaching elementary school music in the West Hartford public schools. (You may have seen the article about him in the Hartford Courant.) He recalls his years teaching as “an inspiring experience.” Hugh has been musically inclined since childhood, when he learned to pick out melodies on the piano. “I remember figuring out how to play the Match Game television theme in a few different keys.” And he found plenty of encouragement along the way. Hugh says, “I grew up in West Hartford and had fabulous music teachers in school.” His family was equally musical. “My dad was a classical music DJ and my brothers were musical, so there was always music around me. We had drums and guitars in our basement, and we all played rock and roll at full volume. I’m sure our neighbors were pleased.”

He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, completed summer studies at the Kodaly Musical Training Institute and the Choral Music Experience Institute, and earned his master’s degree in music education from the University of Hartford’s The Hartt School, with an emphasis in composition. It was at Hartt that he became involved with a brand new youth choir, which would become the Connecticut Children’s Chorus (CCC). Hugh, along with colleague Sallie Ferrebee, was one of the first co-directors of the CCC. It is largely because of Hugh and Ferrebee that CCC continues to exist and grow today.

Hugh began working with the CCC in 1992. Initially, the choir was meant to be a “lab” choir for the summer children’s choir conducting course at Hartt. But Hugh and Ferrebee decided to keep it going, and it became the CCC. Hugh continued to direct the CCC, as well as pursuing other endeavors. “I worked with the choir for five years, from 1992–97. Since then, I have been conducting my school choir as well as local and regional festival choirs.”

Hugh’s teaching and conducting career has been extensive. “I have also taught songwriting and arranging to the students in elementary school through college/graduate school. I have conducted choirs of all ages in many festival concerts, directed the music in shows, and taught acting classes.” And Hugh’s musical achievements don’t stop there; he is also an accomplished composer and arranger. “I have been commissioned to write for choirs of all ages and voicing. My choral music is published with Boosey and Hawkes, Hal Leonard, and Colla Voce. I have enjoyed seeing and hearing my music performed throughout the country, in small community concerts and large national festivals.”

Hugh’s very first published piece was an arrangement he wrote for the CCC when he began directing in 1992. “It was ‘The Raggle Taggle Gypsies.’ I had heard the tune on a trip to Scotland one summer and arranged it for the choir to sing in our spring concert,” says Hugh. He also arranged “How Can I Keep From Singing” for the CCC, which will be featured at the CCC’s June performance at The Bushnell for HCD’s Alumni Weekend. Alumni are invited to sing on stage for this final number. (Alumni: Please RSVP online!)

Working with the CCC gave Hugh the opportunity to conduct many of his favorite pieces, including selections from the well-loved Ceremony of Carols by Benjamin Britten. Under his direction, the CCC also had the opportunity to sing with the Hartford Symphony. “I remember working on Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. There is a lovely part for children’s chorus. The singers were thrilled to participate.”

Throughout his career, Hugh has been an advocate for choral singing for all ages, not just children. “Besides the obvious benefits of creating beautiful music together, participating in choir builds character, enhances focus, promotes positive interaction, and spreads a bit of musical joy to an audience. There is also a sense of euphoria and pride in creating something together, something musical and slightly magical that can, for a moment, alter your attitude and improve our world.”

Celebrating Student Successes

Christina Henares

By Liz Bologna

Christina HeraresChristina Henares has been a student at HCD for nearly ten years. She began studying dance in 2008 and later started piano lessons in 2011. HCD was her first introduction to dance, but her mother was her first piano teacher. Music and dance run in the Henares family. Henares became a student at HCD after her older siblings enrolled in private lessons. “When my family moved to the Hartford area, Hartt was recommended by friends of my older siblings,” explained Henares. “My family was very pleased with their experience, and so they decided to register me as well.” She now studies dance and piano exclusively at HCD.

Being a student at HCD has provided Henares with new experiences and chances to grow as a student and as a performer. Once she began studying piano with Dina Simanovich, she started taking part in piano recitals and competitions, which gave her opportunities to perform in front of audiences.

Henares has excelled during her time at HCD as a dance student as well. “When I was 12 years old, I was awarded the Francine Goldfarb Scholarship for the 2015–16 school year. This scholarship gave me a feeling of accomplishment as I knew what a great honor it was. It inspired and encouraged me to push myself more and work even harder in my daily classes and rehearsals.”

Now in tenth grade, Henares has won numerous competitions in both dance and piano. Most recently, she won the bronze medal in the Connecticut Classic Ballet Competition and was offered a scholarship for the summer intensive of Festival Ballet Providence. Henares has competed in the Connecticut Classic and the Youth American Grand Prix dance competitions. She also placed first in the grade nine division of the Virtuoso Pianists Competition.

Henares doesn’t dance and play piano only for the awards. Speaking about her time as a dance student, she said, “A very positive experience for me has been the annual productions of The Nutcracker through the dance department. I have performed in it since 2009, and feel as though I have matured each year as I took on different roles. I also loved all the other HCD dance performances that I was able to participate in these past few years.” Henares has also taken advantage of the programs HCD offers during the summer. HCD’s From Studio to Stage program gave her a chance to work with a number of well-known guest teachers.

While it may be too soon for Henares to be thinking about college plans, she intends to keep the arts in her life. “I have not thought too much about my post-high school plans yet, but I am confident that the skills that I have acquired here at Hartt will help me in any future endeavors. My love and appreciation of the arts will definitely continue to develop as I grow older.”

Alumni Accolades: Violists Gather to see HCD Student Performance

Daniel Wang on stage in Cayuga Chamber Orchestra

Current HCD viola student Daniel Wang, student of Melinda Daetsch, performed the Handel Casadesus concerto in B minor (1. Allegro Moderato) with the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra in Ithaca, N.Y., on Sunday December 10. Wang was invited to perform as the winner of the junior division at the 2017 Cayuga Chamber Orchestra Lee Strebel Memorial Youth Concerto Competition.

HCD viola gathering 2017

Current and former HCD students and faculty attended the performance. Pictured above, left to right:

  • HCD alumnus Patrick Ding, freshman engineering student at Cornell University, former viola student of Lee Hadden, and former member of the HCD Viola Tour group, CYS, chamber music, and the HCD Suzuki program

  • HCD alumna Colby Johnson; sophomore engineering student at Cornell, former viola student of Melinda Daetsch and former member of CYS and HCD chamber music

  • HCD alumnae Alora Foster; freshman viola performance and music education student at Ithaca College, former viola student of Melinda Daetsch and former member of Opus '89 and Viola Tour Group 

  • Performer Daniel Wang; current student of Melinda Daetsch and member of the HCD chamber group "Quartetto Formaggi" coached by Emlyn Ngai

  • Summer Wang (Daniel's sister); current piano student of Nina Miller

  • HCD and The Hartt School viola faculty Melinda Daetsch, violist with the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra .

  • Carrie Davids; former viola student of Melinda Daetsch and former member of the HCD Viola Tour group. Carrie received her MM Viola performance from the Manhattan School of Music and recently made the finals of the Hartford Symphony Viola auditions. She was performing as a substitute in the Cayuga Orchestra for this concert. 


Above: Celebrating at the famous Moosewood restaurant in Ithaca, N.Y.

From the Stage: Recent and upcoming Events

Visit our calendar online for a full list of upcoming events.

Boyd Meets Girl Fundraiser earns over $3000 for fund for access

Thank you to everyone who purchased tickets for the October fundraiser performance by Boyd Meets Girl. The Boyd Meets Girl duo is comprised of HCD alumna Laura Metcalf and her husband, guitarist Rupert Boyd. They were recently featured in Gramophone.

Thanks to your support, we raised over $3000 for HCD's Fund for Access (FFA). The FFA is a means to provide high-caliber performing arts instruction to Hartford-area youth students who otherwise might not be able to afford it. Over time, the fund has been generously supported by private individuals, foundations, and corporations, but requires annual donations and gifts from the community to meet the ongoing need of qualified students. Please consider making a donation to support our outstanding students.

Boyd Meets Girl

The Nutcracker: A Recap

nutcracker hartt

Congratulations to all the dancers in this year’s production of The NutcrackerThis year’s production was especially noteworthy with New York City Ballet’s Erica Pereira and Daniel Ulbricht performing the first weekend and Ballet Des Moines’ Eleanor Danaan and Eugeniu Cilenco performing the second weekend. Thank you to the performers, volunteers, families of the performers, and HCD Dance Boosters for all your hard work on this year’s production. Tickets for next year go on sale in late October 2018!

Pictured above: Act I performers at the Wednesday evening showing for Hartford Public Schools students

Feb. 15 & March 29: The Garmany Chamber Music Series

2017 Garmany Series

Join The Hartt School for the 2017–18 Richard P. Garmany Chamber Music Series, and become a subscriber. Series subscriptions are available through the University of Hartford Box Office. This year's performers are:

Hartt faculty, staff, and students are eligible for FREE tickets while supplies last. Please note that HCD students must present their HCD ID or proof of registration in person at the box office, located in Lincoln Theater, to obtain tickets. Tickets are not available to HCD students over the phone or online. Box office hours are generally Tuesday–Friday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m., but may be altered for holidays. Call the box office at 860.768.4228 for ticketing information.

Visit for more on this year's Garmany Series performers.

Feb. 17: Celebrate Hartt

2017 Celebrate Hartt

Saturday, Feb. 17
Location: University of Hartford
Join us in celebrating The Hartt School! This special fundraiser will showcase and support our community of inspiring students, scholars, and educators. Evening attire is requested. More details will be announced soon. Mark your calendars! Questions can be directed to Liz Reynolds at  

March 23 & 24: HarttWorks


This year’s HarttWorks  production will take Friday and Saturday, March 23 and 24, at 7:30 p.m. in Millard Auditorium. This year, our top students from both the music and dance departments will perform, including soloists, chamber music, large ensembles, and multi-genre dance performers.

View a photo gallery from the HarttWorks performances.

June 1–3: ALUMNI WEEKEND 2018

Alumni Weekend 2018

Join us for the third annual Alumni Weekend at the University of Hartford, 200 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford, Conn.

June 1–3, 2018

We are excited to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Connecticut Children’s Chorus (CCC). Founded in 1993, CCC has grown from one 60-voice choir to seven choirs encompassing over 220 students (grades 1–12) from 40 Connecticut communities. Through a variety of musical experiences guided by dedicated and accomplished directors, choir members have the opportunity to develop comprehensive musicianship skills, engage in music making through a rich repertoire of choral music from different time periods and different cultures, and perform with professional musical organizations such as the Hartford Symphony, the Hartford Chorale, the New Haven Chorale, the Hartt Symphony, other outstanding children’s choirs from around the country, and professional tour artists that come through Connecticut. Participants develop self-esteem and a sense of musical accomplishment, interact with passionate and skilled peers, travel to choral festivals and conferences in the U.S. and abroad, and work with professional composers and guest directors. The culminating celebration of CCC’s 25th year will take place on the Community Division’s Alumni Weekend, June 1–3, 2018. Join us!



6–7 p.m.: Alumni Social Event (off-campus food and fun)
Location: J Bar
Come eat appetizers and socialize with HCD faculty, staff, and alumni!


Connecticut Children's Chorus Junior Division Concert, 2 p.m.
Location: TBA


Connecticut Children's Chorus Senior Division Concert, 5 p.m.
Location: The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, Belding Theater



Pictured: CCC Concert Choir, 2003

Whether you were in the CCC when it first launched, or you just graduated in 2017, we want to hear from you. We are looking for stories about your experience with the CCC, photos of you and your friends performing with the choir, and updates about what you’re doing now. Please email to contribute.

RSVP online.

HCD Alumni are invited to join our HCD Alumni Facebook group.

Share Your Story

If you are an HCD alumnus and are interested in being featured in a future edition of The Compass e-newsletter, email Thank you for sharing your accomplishments with us!