Staples musicians receive ‘All-National Honors,’ deemed top high school musician in country


Anna Diorio '23

Two Staples students received All-National Honors, making them the top performing high school musicians in the country. The musicians will travel to National Harbor, Maryland to participate in a prestigious ensemble where they will showcase their talents in the annual ANHE program showcase taking place at the beginning of November this year.

Staples High School has long been recognized for its outstanding music program, demonstrating excellence in all of its ensembles and across a variety of instrument families. But what makes Staples music such an impressive community is the number of talented young musicians that fill the halls with beautiful sounds and bring joy to the Westport community. This year, two Staples musicians received All-National Honors, distinguishing themselves as the nation’s top performing high school musicians.

In November, Witt Lindau ’23 (drums) and Delaney McGee ’23 (trumpet) will be participating in the National Association for Music Education’s (NAfME) All-National Ensembles under the leadership of top conductors in music education. To even be eligible to apply to any of these ensembles, students must already have earned All-State honors and then they must submit an unedited, unaccompanied video audition performing the required repertoire for their instrument or voice part. Students were notified of their acceptance as of July 15, 2022.

“It was the middle of summer and I just remember being at my house and opening the email,” Lindau said. “I opened my [letter] for Modern Band and the first word was, ‘Congratulations.’ I was like, ‘That’s unbelievable; I do not deserve to be recognized as one of the top, modern drummers in the country.’ So I was just super excited and it just made my day.”

Lindau started on the drums when he was only six years old. Since then, drumming has become the most significant activity he’s done in his life. Now Lindau will be playing the drums as a member of the NAfME Modern Band, alongside some of the best young musicians in the country.

McGee will also be heading to National Harbor, Maryland to showcase her talents on the trumpet as a member of the Symphony Orchestra. As with Lindau, the trumpeter began her music journey very early, beginning at the age of five. And it’s remained a constant in her life—whether it be through playing trumpet or piano or guitar.

It’s one of those things that I’ve just accomplished. I can’t see my life without music, honestly. I don’t know where I could’ve been without it.

— Delaney McGee '23

In addition to these two talented students, three Staples musicians were selected as alternates—meaning they just missed the cut in receiving all-national honors. However, being named as alternates  still implies that they are among the top high school musicians in the country. 

Jason Capozucca ’23—who plays the bassoon—was one of the students to be chosen as an alternate. 

But being a top performing musician doesn’t just come naturally. It requires investing a significant amount of time and effort. For Capozucca, a typical week consists of hours of rehearsal and lessons—from Wind Ensemble, saxophone lessons, bassoon lessons,Jazz Ensemble to participating in the Manhattan School of Music’s orchestra and the Norwalk Youth Symphony, as well as much more—music has taken over Capozucca’s life. 

The same goes for Lindau and McGee, who have experienced a similar degree of intensity when it comes to music. However, despite the overload of music extracurriculars, their love for music has never faltered. 

Honestly, it’s really worth it because when you love something so much, […] it honestly doesn’t feel like a chore,” McGee said. “It just feels like a natural thing in my life. Just like brushing your teeth or doing anything [as] simple as that.”

McGee participates in several in-school and after school ensembles that typically run for two hours each and also does Greater Connecticut Youth Orchestras for an upwards of 6.5hours on the weekends and Jazz Combo before school.

As full time students, these musicians must balance their music commitments and academic demands. However, despite the intimidating nature of this task, music actually serves as a destresser in fulfilling the responsibilities of a high school student.

“On top of a lot of busy school work, music becomes the most satisfying break ever,” Lindau said.” “I just get to have a break from my stressful academics and I just get to express myself. So that can be really rewarding. It never lessens my love for music. I always love doing it.”

Furthermore, for alternate Ana Jahnel ’23 (tenor saxophone), music doubles as an emotional outlet. 

I have trouble kind of expressing myself through words or physically. And I think music is a really helpful outlet for me to truly explain to people how I feel,” Jahnel said.

Jahnel’s first instrument was trombone, which she started in fourth grade and studied for about four years up until seventh grade. Over the years, she has slowly transitioned over to saxophone. 

Jahnel hopes to carry on with music in college, aspiring to become a jazz composer.

“What I wanna study in college is jazz composition and music theory,” Jahnel said.” “Those are the areas I wanna focus on and eventually I think I wanna be—in addition to being a composer—I wanna be a jazz performer because I’ll probably have to make a living out of  multiple things.”

Jahnel is not the only one who hopes to make music a part of her college career. Lindau plans on keeping music as his main focus, rather than something on the sidelines.

“I’m definitely gonna study music at college and I’m hoping to double major in something like econ and music, which are unrelated things,” Lindau said, “but I couldn’t imagine possibly not pursuing music and I’m really excited for what the future holds.”