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HHS Sophomore Accepted into 2019 High School Honors Choir

Sydney at Piano For as long as she can remember, Sydney Druttman has been singing. The 14-year-old Highland High School (HHS) sophomore remembers coming home from dance lessons when she was around three years old, having memorized a song from a CD that was playing in the car. “Aunt Becky, I learned all the words!” she said excitedly to her aunt, who was behind the wheel. And then the youngster sang the song, which she had heard just once, word-for-word.

Sydney has known since that moment that music, especially singing, was what she wanted to do. Now she has the performing opportunity of a lifetime – an invitation to sing at the iconic Sydney Opera House in Australia. After years of vocal performance in Highland’s schools, Sydney has been accepted into the 2019 High School Honors Choir, which will be performing at the opera house in July of this year.

Sydney has been on a musical journey ever since that memorable car ride. At Highland Elementary School, she performed in the Grade 4/5 chorus. At Highland Middle School (HMS), she took up the clarinet and bass clarinet, joined the Concert Band, and sang in both the Concert and Select Choirs in Grades 6 through 8. At HMS, she also appeared in the holiday show “The Wishing Tree,” and was selected for All-County Choir in Grades 7 and 8.

Recognizing Sydney’s special talent, Middle School Music and Chorus teacher Jeff DiMaio nominated her for acceptance into the High School Honors Choir, which performed at Carnegie Hall in 2016. Mr. DiMaio accompanied Sydney, who was then in eighth grade, on piano for her audition tape, which was submitted along with his recommendation. The Carnegie Hall performance was part of the same program that juries and arranges the performances at the Sydney Opera House.  

“Sydney possesses an extraordinary aptitude and hunger for learning,” observed Mr. DiMaio. “With her deep desire to improve, she will only encounter greater success in music and in all that she pursues. I’m extremely proud of her.”

Committed to the performing arts, Sydney still takes dancing lessons. She played Olive in last April’s The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Highland High School and is slated to appear in the school’s February performance of The Little Mermaid. In January, she will participate in From Stage to Screen Acting Studio’s production of Chicago.

But music is not the only “string to her bow.” At the High School, she is involved in SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) and the Interact Club. Coupling her vocal talent with community service, Sydney has also performed with choral groups for senior citizens in nursing homes and at the annual Light Up the Hamlet holiday celebration in the Town of Lloyd.

Sydney lives in Clintondale with her parents, Gretchen and Brad Druttman, and her younger brother Teddy, a Grade 6 student who plays trumpet and sings in the HMS choir. Sydney’s mom has encouraged her to take both piano and private voice lessons in addition to her school-based musical involvement. She is a member of the HHS chapter of the Tri-M Music Honor Society, an international program dedicated to recognizing exceptional music students in Grades 6-12.

Asked how she feels after singing with her choir groups, Sydney explained, “It’s such an exhilarating experience, especially when you finish the song and know you have gone the extra mile. It’s like jumping for joy!”

According to Highland High School Music teacher and Choir Director Lynda Keech, who accompanied her on the Australia audition tape last year, Sydney’s acceptance into this elite group is a direct result of her talent, dedication, and achievements.

“It has been my pleasure to work with Sydney for the last two years,” said Mrs. Keech. “She is dedicated, interested, and enthusiastic about Choir and singing. Sydney participated in the NYSSMA Solo and Ensemble performances last year and then used her solo for this festival’s audition tape. I know that her continued work and preparation will result in an outstanding experience abroad, as well as enhance her current abilities. And, getting to work with different conductors and other advanced students also aids in increasing Sydney’s experience and skills.”

Sydney, one of about 350 students from around the world chosen for this honor out of nearly 13,000 applicants, has no doubt that her musical journey will continue beyond Sydney, Australia. Even as a sophomore, she’s beginning to think about specialty colleges like Boston Conservatory, the Berklee College of Music, and Juilliard.

“You can’t be afraid to dip your toe in the water – you can’t be afraid it will be too cold,” Sydney enthused. “You have to do what you love to do, and music allows you to express who you are!”