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Students get chance of a lifetime to play with jazz legends at Suffolk Theater

_DSC0556 2015 MM Concert closeup Madeline Seitles

The dream to perform live with a legendary jazz group is about to come true for a group of local student musicians.

After completing the East End Arts 2015 Music Masters Fellowship Program in September, the 11-member student choir will perform at Suffolk Theater in Riverhead this Saturday with The Rascals, which is lead by singer and songwriter Felix Cavaliere.

The accomplishments Mr. Cavaliere has made through his 50-year career includes: the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Songwriter Hall of Fame, Vocal Group Hall of Fame and Grammy Hall of Fame, according to the Suffolk Theater.

In addition, his jazz group is also considered to be the best “blue-eyed soul” group to come out of the 1960s with several top hits, including: “Good Lovin,” “I’ve Been Lonely Too Long,” “Groovin’” and “People Got to Be Free.”

Sophia Dupuis, a 15-year-old homeschooled student from Riverhead that participated in East End Arts Council’s fellowship program this year, said she was in awe after she was invited to play with The Rascals.

“I’ve always loved to sing and being a part of a group — that feeling of unison — is really great,” said Sophia, who enjoys singing jazz songs. “It’s been an awesome experience working together with everyone.”

The Music Masters Fellowship Program was created in 2011 with the goal of providing local students with one-on-one learning opportunities with established musicians. The program is a tuition-free, nine-week vocal ensemble workshop where selected students have an opportunity to work under the guidance of musical performers.

During this year’s fellowship program, students trained with professional soul and R&B vocalist Anastasia René and pianist Mark Mancini.

Ms. René has performed worldwide with many top musicians, including Vince Welnick the Grateful Dead and the Tubes; New Orleans pianist Henry Butler; and Scott Sharrard of the Gregg Allman Band, among others.

Sixteen-year-old Colleen Kelly, an alto singer from Mattituck High School, described her mentors as very talented teachers and said she enjoyed their music theory lesson plans.

As for Saturday’s event, Colleen said she’s looking forward to performing with her fellow classmates in a professional setting.

“I’m so grateful to have this opportunity and really glad to sing with all the new friends I made this year,” she said. “It’s going to be a really good show.”

Several Riverhead High School students also performing in the group, including Lauren Anasky, Stephanie Bak, Ella Baldwin, Lily Kutner, Natalia Rahim, and Keshaun Ward.

The Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals Holiday Show is at 8 p.m. this Saturday, Dec. 19. Visit suffolktheater.com for ticket information.

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Photo caption: Westhampton Beach High School student Madeline Seitles performing with the East End Arts Music Masters Fellowship on Dec. 1 at the Suffolk Theater. Students that participated in the fellowship program will return to the downtown Riverhead theater this Saturday, Dec. 19, to perform at the Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals Holiday Show. (Credit: Stephanie Israel)