Julia Short, East Hampton High School
By Patricia Kitchen
Julia Short has been singing ever since she could talk, so it’s no surprise that her life’s goal is to inspire young people to find the same joy in music that she does.
But performance doesn’t stop with beautiful vocals or dazzling instrumentals. You also need to be dressed for the part, and Short has taken it upon herself to help her fellow vocalists, as well as musicians, look concert-ready with her Concert Closet initiative.
The program benefits students who don’t have the means to buy the required attire for concerts that can range from white blouses and shirts to black pants and skirts.
Short, 18, has been working with teachers and principals at East Hampton Middle School, John M. Marshall Elementary School and Springs School, inviting community members to check their own closets for clothing, as well as black belts and shoes, they could donate.
With the help of monetary donations to buy three clothing racks, the makeshift “closets” have been situated in “semi-secluded spaces” at the schools, where students can browse the racks and make their selections, said Short, of East Hampton.
She has trained a fellow student, now a junior, to take over the closet’s management for the coming school year.
It’s been “really cool” to hear positive feedback from the community, said Short, who is also a certified ocean lifeguard for the Village of East Hampton and is an instructor for the Junior Ocean Lifeguard Program, where she got her start.
As for her own immersion in music, Short’s senior year has included three full days during the school week on a for-credit internship. Her intern supervisor, Melanie Freyre, is the same music teacher at East Hampton Middle School who nurtured Short’s vocal aspirations.
Short said she was able to pull the internship off, in part, by continuing to sacrifice her lunch breaks. That started when she was a freshman and had to choose between opting out of that mealtime stretch or not participating in chorus. The latter was “not happening,” so “I had to drop lunch to take chorus,” Short said, noting that she and others are allowed to eat during classes.
That as she was piling on other classes, too, and by the time she started her senior year she had accrued 24.5 credits, exceeding the 22 credits needed to graduate, said her school counselor, Marilyn Fricke Marsilio.
Under the guidance of Freyre, Short said she started out helping the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders with warmup sessions, moving on to teaching singing as well as conducting.
As for her own musical high points, Short includes the time during freshman year that she sang with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which was in conjunction with the American Choral Directors Association annual conference. In summer 2016, she traveled to Europe, visiting Prague, Salzburg and Vienna, where Short said she sang with other students at various parks and “beautiful old churches.”
Short “is a tremendous force in music,” Marsilio said.