Four Prep School Students Are Recognized for Musical Talent in New York State

Introduction by Sarah Stewart, Music Department Head


Every year our Prep School Music Department participates in NYSSMA, which stands for New York State School Music Association.  Last June we had over 25 students perform a solo on their instruments orvoice and receive a full evaluation of their musical abilities. Once you are in 10th and 11th grade, you are able to use that audition for possible entry into All State Band, Chorus or Orchestra. These groups take the very best from all of New York State. 


While most school districts in the state are proud to have even one student selected, we had four students recognized for their efforts this school year. Cameron Barr-Kotzen ‘19 and Anna Lei Negrin ‘19 were chosen for Mixed Chorus, Mia Ginzburg ‘19 was chosen for Treble Choir, and for the first time ever we had a student selected to perform his original composition for the showcase. Ben Togut ‘19 turned in such an amazing original song that they placed him among the finest up and coming composers in the whole state, which is a great honor. All of his scores from the judges were a solid 100%.


Here’s what the selectees say about their connection to music:


Where do you hope your talents take you?

Cameron Barr-Kotzen: I hope my talents lead me to be able to perform for as long as possible. I want to inspire others to push for their dreams and go beyond what they even expect from themselves. I want to be a performer for my life and growing my craft is the best dream I could imagine. I feel so lucky to have this be the first of many accomplished goals.


This is your second time attending NYSSMA. Why did you decide to do it a second time and what do you hope to gain?

Mia Ginzburg: I loved what I learned when I was there and I took so much away from the experience.  I was able to bring my newly acquired knowledge back to school and share it with my peers. I hope this year I will make All-Eastern Choir and can represent CGPS on a regional scale.


How do you feel having broken ground by being selected as a composer?

Ben Togut: I was shocked but also very honored that my song was selected. It really meant a lot because the song is about acceptance of people who have often felt different and marginalized and I'm glad that other people have been able to connect with that message.


What inspired you to get involved with music?

Anna Lei Negrin: I got into music by starting to play piano in kindergarten. Ever since then my life has revolved around creating art. By singing, playing the piano and studying the theoretical foundations of music, I have found a love for it. I hope to find myself on a Broadway stage one day.