When discussing Sterling Wisniewski, there is one thing for which you must not lose sight. He is a junior at Stryker High School. After that, you can add the other pieces, which include being a member of the Honors Choirs at local, district and state levels. That is old hat though…he was a sophomore at the time. There has been a lot of water under the bridge since then. After all, he was just a kid then. Today, he has reached the ripe old age of being a high school junior.
Sterling has returned to the upper echelon to prove that his works as a sophomore were no flashes in the proverbial pan. He was a participant in the District Honors choir held at Toledo’s Stranahan Theater in February, and recently he took part in the University of Toledo High School Honors choir. With the cadence of continuing success continuing, it seemed like the right time to test his wings and push beyond the heights of his peers at the local level.
Sterling took up the challenge of auditions for the Glass City Singers, a new choral ensemble under the direction of Dr. Brad Pierson, the Director of Choral Activities at the University of Toledo. Members of the ensemble are selected via audition from the highest quality high school, collegiate, and young professional singers in the Toledo area, between the ages of 16 and 30. Now we’re talking collegiate and professional levels of talent, and remember…we’re still talking about a high school junior. This crucible again proved the talent level of Sterling Wisniewski, as he not only made the cut, his first performance with the ensemble was held on April 25. While these growth in performance was taking place, Sterling also took his first strides into the realm of composition.
Sterling and students from across the state were attending a special seminar with Dr. Pierson, when they were introduced to composer Jake Runestad. Runestad had the students working with some of his pieces, whereupon Sterling observed how a composer conducted his own work. Runestad then challenged the students to collaborate in the composition of a new piece. That piece, along with two Scottish songs and two Runestad originals, were performed by the students in a concert later that day. It was not the only trip to the composers batter’s box for Sterling, though. As a solo composer, he would hit his first solo effort out of the park.
At the suggestion of Stryker vocal music instructor, Kristi Miehls, Sterling took up yet another contest challenge afforded by the University of Toledo. Having started about a dozen pieces in the past but never completing any of them, this was going to be a first for him. Under the theme of ‘Percussion Trio’, he employed the marimba, the vibraphone and the ocean drum to compose a song entitled “Echoic Trough”. This song, the first song he ever completed, was entered into the Craig’s Keyboards/UT Young Composers contest and was awarded first prize.
Sterling packs a ton of accomplishment into a short amount of time, so the road is wide open up to his graduation in the spring of 2018. After that, he is leaning heavily in favor of attending UT. He wants to earn a Doctorate in Choral Education, but he wants to double major in Music Composition. By that time, he will have an even bigger springboard of additional accomplishments and awards, and he will be more than ready to take up collegiate life…despite having achieved more prior to his senior year in high school than many college graduates.
© 2017, Tim Kays. All rights reserved.