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O’Hara senior performs with BPO Chorus

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TONAWANDA — Cardinal O’Hara High School senior Marissa Taylor performed as a member of the Grammy Award-winning Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus alongside the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra on Aug. 18 at the Chautauqua Institution.

Marissa Taylor

The concert, titled “Paths to Freedom: Sanctuary Road,” included works by Brahms and Moravec and featured internationally renowned soloists.

“Marissa is a wonderful student with an extraordinary voice,” Colin Sperrazza, chairman of the COHS music department, said. “We are all very proud of her accomplishment.”

For her part, Marissa said she’s been singing in chorus since fourth grade.

“When I came to O’Hara, I started in freshman,” Marissa said. “Mr. Sperrazza moved me into the elite Song Corps almost right away,” she smiled. “He’s the vocal director and really helped me.”

Marissa went on to say that by last year when everyone had suffered through the pandemic, she lost her passion for singing. However, she found that by talking to Sperrazza she was able to come back to what she loved.

“Starring as Dolly in our spring musical, “Hello Dolly,” was such a boost to my love of singing,” Marissa said.

Sperrazza recommended Marissa to Dr. Adam Luebke, vocal director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus.

“I was the only high school student in the chorus,” Marissa said. “I had the music and learned the vocals myself. It took a lot of practice but Mr. Sperrazza provided techniques and advice.”

In all, there were only three rehearsals at Daemen College before the actual performance.

“It was such a different experience that I still get chills thinking about it. I missed my family vacation but I didn’t mind as it was such a magical, exhilarating and amazing time ­– a once in a lifetime experience,” she said.

Sperrazza spoke of Marissa as “an outstanding young woman who has the work ethic and musical abilities to perform in an ensemble such as the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus. The performance was captivating and a display of artistry at the highest level. I am so proud of Marissa for all she continues to achieve.”

Marissa, the daughter of Mark Taylor and Rebecca McClintick.

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