Five Shenandoah University students will compete for the grand prize of $5,000 during the final round of Apple Blossom’s Got Talent, a new Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® event, to be held at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 3, at the Sprint Tent, located at 1014 Amherst St, Winchester, Va.
Junior dance major Nicole Michael advanced to the finals with a compelling hip hop dance performance, while the saxophone quartet Doahnamics thrilled the semifinals audience with their rendition of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy,” arranged by freshman music education major Joey Speranzo. First-year Doctor of Musical Arts candidate Nessyah Gallagher; freshman jazz studies major Tyler Harvey; and sophomore music education major Jonathan Mills round out the Doahnamics roster.
Michael has been dancing for more than 17 years, since the age of four. In addition to her studies with the Dance Division faculty at Shenandoah Conservatory, she has trained with various dance studios in the Charlotte, N.C., and surrounding areas while working with teachers Bianca Morgan, Justin Mann, David Mann and Paula Mann.
She has studied and danced in various styles of jazz, lyrical, hip-hop, modern, contemporary, African, tap and ballet, and has performed in dance concerts at Shenandoah University and the Central Academy of Technology and Arts (Monroe, N.C.). Michael has also performed at the Charlotte Dance Festival, the Regional High School Dance Festival (Norfolk, Va.), Festival in the Park Charlotte, church events, community fundraisers and the Boys & Girls Club of Northern Shenandoah Valley (Winchester, Va.).
The Doahnamics saxophone quartet is the new, dynamic saxophone quartet of the Shenandoah Valley. Gallagher, Harvey, Mills and Speranzo met through Shenandoah Conservatory’s saxophone studio, under the direction of Associate Professor of Saxophone Timothy Roberts, D.M.A. Each member of the quartet brings unique specialties and tastes, and thus Doahnamics performs a diverse repertoire, ranging from baroque and classical, to ragtime and jazz, to rock, popular and contemporary genres.
Speranzo frequently arranges works for the quartet, including his most recently completed arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s “Album for the Young, Op. 39” which the quartet will premiere in May 2014. Harvey also performs in jazz combos and big bands, and was recently featured in Shenandoah University’s Holiday Gala.
Mills is an active member of both Phi Mu Alpha and Kappa Kappa Psi fraternities and was a finalist in Shenandoah Conservatory’s concerto competition earlier this year. Gallagher recently completed her master’s degree in musicology and specializes in the contemporary saxophone music of Australia. Her lecture recital at the Winchester Medical Center in October 2013 demonstrated a culmination of this study.
Tickets for Apple Blossom’s Got Talent are $25 or $50 and can be purchased online or at the Official Festival Souvenir Store and Ticket Outlet.
PHOTOS: Courtesy of Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival®