Inside Scoop of NEMFA with Gabe Galley


Former student Sai Manasani, conductor Ms. Burns, and Gabe Galley at NEMFA last year.

Jessica Polito

Last Saturday, December 8th, senior, Gabe Galley, auditioned for NEMFA for the fourth and final time. NEMFA is the New England Music Festival Association. Every year in March, there is a 3-day event where high school students rehearse with their ensemble to then perform in a concert. The ensembles are created through auditions, which occurred last week. As a senior who did NEMFA all four years, Gabe Galley is both sad and excited for his last festival.

NEMFA is a unique music experience for high schoolers, unlike other groups or programs. The 3-day festival is unique because participants stay with a host family. Galley says that this is an aspect that sets it apart from others. He explains “For two nights you are a part of a family, and this teaches you social and life skills that cannot be learned from staying in a hotel and attending rehearsals.” As a special aspect of the festival, it is important to note that all of the host families are given background checks, and oftentimes host more than one participant to ensure safety. When not with their host families, the musicians go to several rehearsals a day, ranging from one to three hours each. At the end of the festival, there’s a concert that each of the ensembles (band, orchestra, and chorus), perform. This year, the festival will be hosted by Woodstock Academy, in Woodstock Connecticut. It will run from Thursday, March 21st to Saturday, March 23rd.

Last week, Galley auditioned for NEMFA one last time with the viola, his instrument. He has been playing since 4th grade when he was inspired by his older sister to start. His love for music grew over the years, he first auditioned for NEMFA his freshman year. Through encouragement from friends and dedication to his instrument, Galley made the decision to audition and was invited to participate. After his initial success, he continued to audition and participate each subsequent year.

Through NEMFA, Galley gained an important musical connection. Last year, the conductor, Ms. Miriam Burns, suggested that he consider attending a special summer music program. She recommended that he attend a “chamber music camp for musicians with a strong aptitude for collaboration and musicianship,” called the Castleman Quartet Program. Through this three week program, he further developed his skills and worked with people almost twice his age. That impactful experience would not have been possible without the NEMFA conductor who saw something in Galley during his time at the festival.

Though it is only 3 days, Galley is “quite sad that it is my last festival.” He remarks that “NEMFA festivals have been and always will be some of my most treasured memories.” From meeting people from different states to meeting the guest conductors, Galley is sad that this is his last year to participate. With plans to go to a conservatory next year to focus solely on music, his experiences at NEMFA have helped to give him more experience doing what he loves.