Return to Headlines

Two Jefferson Arts Academy Student Musicians Shine at NJSSE

Elizabeth, N.J., April 14, 2021 – Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy students Lucy Gomez and Nick Mayancela were recognized for the solo guitar performances they submitted to the inaugural New Jersey State Solo & Ensemble Festival (NJSSE), an event that was held virtually.

The NJSSE was launched to recognize student achievement in music education across the state. Open to all public or private middle school and high school students, the NJSSE is providing opportunities virtually for scholastic music students to showcase their talents either individually or in a small ensemble. The festival is being run by Arts Ed NJ with systems support provided by Music for All.

Gomez, a junior, received a Gold Award, the highest possible rating, with an overall score of 29 points out of 30. She received a perfect score in technique and a 9.5 out of 10 in quality of sound and musicianship. Gomez participated in the Class A competition, which is reserved for student musicians with advanced high school musical experience. As a Gold Award recipient, she is among a small number of performers selected for the AENJ Spring Festival.

Mayancela, a sophomore, received a Bronze rating, receiving a score of 22.5. His performance stood out for its quality of sound, which received a score of 9.5 out of 10. Mayancela performed in the Class C competition, which showcases student musicians with one or two years of musical experience.

The submissions from both Jefferson Arts Academy performers were adjudicated by Vin Downes, a renowned guitarist who has released five studio albums, including three produced by Grammy Award winning guitarist and producer Will Ackerman and award-winning engineer/producer Tom Eaton. Downes currently teaches an award-winning classical guitar program at Bayonne High School.

Gomes also participated in an interview by Festival Director Dennis Argul highlighting Gold Award recipients from Elizabeth, Bayonne, Newark, and Passaic, which was broadcasted live on Facebook and YouTube.

“Elizabeth Public Schools has long been home to very talented student musicians and I am delighted to see that even in the most difficult circumstances, our student musicians are not only receiving excellent performance experiences but also are thriving on the big stage,” said Elizabeth Public Schools Superintendent Olga Hugelmeyer. “Lucy Gomez and Nick Mayancela have solidified their place in the rich history of our district’s music program and of outstanding performers who have walked the halls of Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy. I hope that these opportunities and distinctions are only the beginning of many that they experience in the performing arts.”

“Congratulations to Lucy Gomez and Nick Mayancela for excelling in competition among some of the top student musicians from throughout the State of New Jersey,” said Elizabeth Board of Education President Jerry Jacobs. “Their love of music and dedication to their craft has shown through in their performances and we are excited to see them receive these well-deserved recognitions.”