Artist of the Month: Senior wins Lasker Award

The Newtonite

[media-credit id=35 align=”alignnone” width=”300″]Senior Emily Paley performed as Elle Woods in "Legally Blonde the Musical" with freshman Nellie Rodgers, junior Jonny Cohen and junior Ilana Ruben.[/media-credit]

Senior Emily Paley performed as Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde the Musical” with freshman Nellie Rodgers, junior Jonny Cohen and junior Ilana Ruben.

by Leah Budson

“The Henry Lasker Award goes to a student who is a fantastic musician, but more importantly, it goes to a student who has embodied the total picture of what it means to be a musician. This year, we are very proud, as a music department, to honor Emily Paley,” said fine and performing arts department head Todd Young at Pops Night Thursday, May 17.
Applause exploded throughout the cafeteria, beginning barely a second after Young had said “Emily.”
Senior Emily Paley, who sings in Jubilee Singers, Northern Lights and Family Singers, rushed up to receive her award, beaming with excitement.
“I felt extremely proud,” Paley said after the event. “My dad went to North when Henry Lasker was a teacher, and he had told me a lot about him and the legacy he left, so winning the award was really exciting.”
[media-credit id=35 align=”alignleft” width=”251″]Fine and performing arts department head Todd Young presents the Henry Lasker Award to senior Emily Paley.[/media-credit]

Fine and performing arts department head Todd Young presents the Henry Lasker Award to senior Emily Paley.

Family Singers director Adam Grossman said, “The Lasker Award was given to her for musical excellence, but also for her effort and attitude.

“Emily brings leadership, responsibility to the group, as well as a positive attitude, in addition to her fine singing.”

Thinking back to when, at age nine, she was cast as Amaryllis in a production of “The Music Man,” Paley said, “I felt like I’ve always wanted to sing.”
“There were about 70 girls auditioning for the part, so when I found out I got it, I was really excited.
“After that, I guess I really knew that I wanted to sing as much as I could,” she said.
And that is exactly what she did. Not only did Paley continue to be involved in musicals, she joined three choirs.

According to Paley, Family Singers and Jubilee Singers are actual graded classes, making them more structured than Northern Lights, which is student-run.

“I have really enjoyed being in Family and Jubilee because they have given me the opportunity to become a better singer.

“I’ve really learned how to be part of a choral group, as opposed to just being a soloist,” Paley said.

This year, Paley co-directed Northern Lights, this school’s co-ed a cappella group. She loved the experience, although “because Northern Lights is student-run, we have the challenges of choosing our own arrangements and keeping ourselves disciplined.”

“All of what I learn in Family and Jubilee helps Northern Lights to be a better group,” she said.

Northern Lights, however, is not the first program that Paley directed. In her sophomore year, she also began A Cappella for A Cure, an annual concert that raises money for cancer research.

In addition to singing in and directing choirs, Paley enjoys participating in musicals.

“Singing in both choirs and in musicals is really satisfying. In a choral group, we have to use just our voices to tell a story in song, so that is challenging.

“In a show, I get to dance and act, which are also my passions, so that is really fun for me,” said Paley. “I love both experiences, and am grateful that I had the chance to do both for these past four years.”

In “Legally Blonde the Musical,” Paley’s favorite production to have performed in thus far, she played Elle Woods, the main character.

“I love the big musicals that we do each year,” Paley said. “‘Legally Blonde’ was an incredible amount of work but it was also so much fun and so satisfying.”

[media-credit id=35 align=”alignleft” width=”245″]Senior Emily Paley performed as Fastrada in "Pippin."[/media-credit]

Senior Emily Paley performed as Fastrada in “Pippin.”

Even in her last full week of high school, Paley rehearsed for this year’s spring musical, in which she played Fastrada, the main character’s stepmother.

“I’m really going to miss being in an environment that encourages creativity and collaboration,” Paley said, referring to both the theatre and music opportunities at this school.

Theatre director Adam Brown described Paley’s journey through Theatre Ink, saying that “when she first came to this school she was this young, vibrant actor and singer. Now, she’s developed into this mature, refined, actor, singer and dancer that has just blown us away.”

From her performance as a freshman in “Urinetown the Musical,” of which Brown said “she was just amazing,” to her lead role in “Legally Blonde,” “Emily brings a freshness, true commitment and dedication to the craft,” he said.

The music program chose Paley for the Lasker Award not only for her talent, but also for her effort and personality, said Grossman. Her extraordinary effort was not reserved just for the music department, however.

“She’s someone who truly cares about not only what she does, but also about the production, the process and her castmates,” Brown said. “She just makes every show she’s in better.”

Thinking about the fact that she will be graduating in one week, Paley exclaimed, “I guess what sums up my last four years in the fine and performing arts department is that I am just extremely grateful for all of the opportunities it gave me to learn and to perform.”