Musician Spotlight: Grace Benedict


Grace Benedict

Benedict as Maude in the Class of 2023’s junior Class Night skit

Benedict as Madame Thénardier in LHS’s production of Les Misérables (Grace Benedict)

Senior Grace Benedict has loved music for as long as she can remember. She began playing the cello in the second grade, and swiftly–during the next school year–joined the chorus and discovered her love for singing. She began participating in the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) festivals for both cello and vocals in elementary school and remarked that “as my love continued to grow, I began private lessons for both cello and voice.”

Benedict has greatly advanced her techniques in comparison to the budding cellist and vocalist that she once was and has developed a high belt (one’s voice range when singing with one’s chest). For Benedict, technique is extremely important in maintaining a healthy sound and strong vocals: “I listen to old videos of myself performing and cringe. I wish someone would have told me to not sing with my nose. I have definitely improved my vocal range and abilities.”  For cello, the beginning of middle school was when she expressed that her technique truly began to “click.” Jason Melecio, both North and South Middle Schools’ orchestra teacher, aided in helping Benedict grow with the cello, and in high school, learning that Alyssa White (LHS’s previous orchestra teacher) played the cello was invigorating for her. Veronica Underhill, the current orchestra teacher, has also aided in pushing the cello to new heights for Benedict. 

Benedict noted that her theatrical style has been indelible in her musical career. Her main musical inspirations are performers in the musical theater world, such as Sutton Foster, an American actress who has garnered a plethora of fame on the Broadway stage. Benedict explained that Foster’s vocal technique and acting is at a level that she strives to achieve. Benedict also views her friends as great inspirations, and she adores watching them perform.

This year’s Cabaret Night, held in January, was one of her favorite performances in the history of her musical career. “I sang ‘Losing My Mind’ from Follies by the late Stephen Sondheim. I wanted to sing it with string accompaniment and could not find the sheet music. So, I took the piano part and arranged it for a string quartet,” she explained. Benedict said that it was a lot of work, but she thought that it paid off in the end. Benedict also said she was very grateful that seniors Kate Chiulli, Lola Sokolskiy, and Scarlett Dellacona, as well as junior Nawar Aboud, agreed to perform with her.

Benedict sings constantly (to the annoyance of her siblings, she expressed), and though she does not take private voice lessons due to a lack of time, she practices whenever she gets the chance. “Class time, Chamber Orchestra, and school lessons allow me to rehearse when schoolwork prevents me at home. Every performance only advances my skills, and I am always looking to get better,” she said. This time at school and at home has been made possible by all of the encouraging people that have aided Benedict in her musical career. “My parents have always been so supportive in all my musical endeavors. Even when I do not get a role I want or a solo, they are always there. My friends are also the best support system. Since we are all musicians, we are always rooting for each other. My music teachers—Ms. Pasqua, Mr. Melecio, Mrs. White, Mr. Wyner, Mr. Waldvogel, and Mrs. Underhill—are all incredibly supportive and push me to be better,” Benedict explained.

Though Benedict does not plan to pursue music professionally, she hopes to continue performing in college, explaining that music shall always be a part of her life. Benedict commented, “Music is my favorite way to express myself. I hope by spreading music, I can encourage others and spread joy. Whether by singing solo, performing in a play or musical, or playing in an orchestra, music is universal. It brings us all joy in a world where it is so much needed.”