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Connellsville teen headed for Carnegie Hall in NYC

| Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, 2:13 p.m.
Linda Harkcom | for the Daily Courier
Sarah Hamman of Connellsville sings on stage in the Connellsville Area Senior High School auditorium as her music teacher Henry Molinaro plays for her. Hamman will be performing along with other top national and international high school vocalists at Carnegie Hall in New York City on Sunday for the 2014 High School Honors Performance Series. Molinaro recommended her for the honor.

This is a big week for Sarah Hamman of Connellsville. Not only will the Connellsville Area High School senior turn 18, but she will perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Hamman has been selected for the 2014 High School Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall.

“When I was chosen I was ecstatic. I mean, I dream of Broadway but I've never had the chance to go and leaving on my 18th birthday and officially turning 18 on my way there is amazing. And my family is coming up by train the next day and for them to experience this with me is an awesome feeling,” Hamman said.

Hamman will join other performers from the United States, Canada and select international schools for a special performance at the world-famous venue that marks the pinnacle of musical achievement. The Sunday performance is open to the public and specially invited representatives from collegiate music programs.

“I'm looking forward to meeting new people and getting to sing at Carnegie Hall,” Hamman said.

Participation in one of the three Honors Ensembles is limited to the highest rated high school performers from across North America and select schools internationally.

“Being selected to the Honors Performance Series is something each finalist should be extremely proud of accomplishing. We process thousands of nominations annually, selecting only the most talented performers applying on an international level. Working with these conductors and performing at Carnegie Hall is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that these student musicians never forget,” said Morgan Smith, program director.

Hamman said she has been singing her whole life but started formal training at the age of 10. She studies music with Michelle Harbaugh privately and is guided by music teachers Henry Molinaro and Timothy Martin throughout the school day.

She was nominated for this honor by Molinaro. He said this was the first he had heard of this program and Hamman is the first student that he has recommended for it.

“Sarah is very dedicated to her craft and if I'm going to recommend someone to go to Carnegie Hall they have to have that dedication and Sarah has that dedication and talent,” Molinaro said.

In order to achieve this goal, Hamman auditioned this fall for the Honors Performance Series and was accepted after a review by the Honors Selection Board. Acceptance to the elite group is a direct result of the talent, dedication and achievements demonstrated in her application and audition recording.

She will perform with the Honors Choir as an Alto 1. Her parents John and Angela Hamman plan to be in the audience to watch their daughter perform.

“I can't even begin to tell you how excited our family is. We are so grateful for her to be given this opportunity. She will be flying to New York by herself on her 18th birthday. Which is scary but the Honors Series has people in place to greet her. It's a once in a lifetime chance and we are happy that Henry Molinaro nominated her,” Angie Hamman said.

Finalists will come together for five days in New York City to have the opportunity to learn from Dr. Eph Ehly, work with other finalists and get a taste of New York City.

“I'm excited to see my first Broadway show and to be in the audience for the Today Show,” Hamman said.

Hamman is a member of her high school marching band, symphonic band, chamber ensemble and the 16 Notes. For the second year in a row she has a lead role in the high school's musical. She participates in indoor drumline/colorguard, is a three-year member of PMEA Honors Choir and district chorus. She is involved in acapella group Canto Spianato, Scottdale Chorale Society, National Honor Society, student council and participates in Fay-West Honors Band.

Additionally, she has been active in her local softball league for 10 years, volunteers and performs at the Porter Theater in Connellsville, has performed in more than 20 shows locally including at the Geyer Performing Arts Center, has studied musical theater at Pittsburgh CLO.

She has received a $500 scholarship from the Greater Scottdale Chorale Society. She has plans to attend Seton Hill University where she will major in musical therapy and minor in theater.

“After college I really want to get into teaching music through vibrations to deaf people and to give people with disabilities the opportunity to learn and play music like I have been able too,” Hamman said.

The Honors Performance Series was established to showcase accomplished individual high school performers on an international level by allowing them to study under master conductors and perform in the celebrated venue, Carnegie Hall. Learn more by visiting

Tickets for the event can be purchased through the Carnegie Hall box office at

Linda Harkcom is a contributing writer.

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