Heights High 2021 Senior Soloists

Every year, the Instrumental Music Department (IMD) of Cleveland Heights High School has traditionally featured outstanding seniors who compete for the opportunity to play a solo piece with either the Heights High Symphony or Symphonic Winds. However, because in-person, indoor concerts with large groups have not been possible to hold during the 2020-2021 school year, IMD Directors Brett Baker and Daniel Heim offered the opportunity for the Class of 2021 to submit individual video recorded performances for this year.

Mr. Baker and Mr. Heim hoped this substitute method would still allow for distinguished senior instrumentalists and their performances to be celebrated on the district website.

The candidate videos were adjudicated directly after spring break with the help of Mr. Andrew Bennekamper, and the IMD is excited to now present the winning videos of four select seniors: Franco Casucci (trombone), Katrina Palmer (viola), Zelda Thayer-Hansen (violin), and Marissa Veccia (‘cello).

Each video was released weekly leading up to graduation.

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Marissa Veccia began Suzuki cello studies at age four with Rachel Bernstein at the Music Settlement. In the eighth grade, she joined the studio of Martha Baldwin at CIM. While at the Music Settlement, Marissa participated in many recitals, community events, and cello groups, as well as the Junior Chamber Orchestra, Advanced Chamber Orchestra, and Amati Chamber Ensemble. She also performed in junior concerts of the Cleveland Composers Guild, premiering works by Stephen and Mary Ann Griebling, Margi Griebling-Haigh, and Ryan Charles Ramer. In 2013, Marissa was the Elementary Division winner of the Cleveland Cello Society Scholarship audition, and she later won the Junior Division prize in 2016.

Read more and watch Marissa Veccia's solo

Franco Casucci is a trombonist and senior at Cleveland Heights High School. He first began playing the trombone in the 4th grade, through the Heights elementary school music program. Over time his interest and enjoyment of music grew stronger, and he now performs in a number of extracurricular groups, including the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra and Kaboom Collective, along with the Heights High School Symphonic Winds and Jazz Ensemble. He would like to thank his private trombone instructor Dave Mitchell for all his time and teaching, his former private instructor Paul Hungerford for first encouraging him to develop his talent...

Read more and watch Franco Casucci's solo

Katrina Palmer started playing the viola when she was five years old. She wanted to play an instrument like her older sister, Emily (violin), so Katrina began taking private lessons with Laura Shuster. A few years later, she wanted to learn to play the piano, and she studied with Sara Smith for eight years. Katrina has performed with the Heights High Symphony for four years, serving as Principal Violist for the last two. She also performed in the IMD’s Chamber Ensemble Program for two years. Outside of school, Katrina performed with the Contemporary Youth Orchestra for three years -- achieving Assistant Principal Viola her final season -- and with the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra for one year.

Read more and watch Katrina Palmer's solo

Zelda Thayer-Hansen has studied violin with Rachel Huch for over eleven years. She has been a member of the Heights High Symphony for four years, serving as Concertmaster for her final two, and of the Contemporary Youth Orchestra for three years. Outside of her musical activities, Zelda has played on the Heights women's soccer team for four years and became the starting varsity goalkeeper and co-captain for her junior and senior years. Read more and watch Zelda Thayer-Hansen's solo