By Lilian Velez and Mattie Zautner, Current Staff
The music program at West Bend High Schools is experiencing a new era.
Seth Matuszak and David Pecsi are the new faces of the music department. Matuszak teaches orchestra while Pecsi teaches choir, and as new teachers, they have been learning right along with the students as the year continues. Now that each has a concert or two under the belt, they are thinking about combining the skills of the choir and orchestra for some of the upcoming shows.
“There has been some informal discussion about possible works we can do together and Mr. Pecsi is great,” Matuszak said.
Both teachers are proud of how their students have been performing. Pecsi was pleased with how the choir’s first concert went.
“All groups did an impeccable job,” Pecsi said.
He has changed the program to be directed more by the students, giving them a say in where they want to go and what they want to accomplish musically.
“I think every year potential is unlimited, it’s just as hard as the students want to work and as far as they want to go,” Pecsi said. “Every choir has shown me they are ready to take the next step and go further. I’m excited to see where we go and how far we can go by the end of the year.”
Matuszak feels the same way about the orchestra program, which has already completed two concerts.
“I thought the first concert overall went pretty well, especially considering me not knowing anybody, and not knowing what to choose for music based on where everyone was at. It’s a very hard thing to put together for 181 students,” Matuszak said.
Matuszak plans to bring in his own new ideas to make the program the best it can be.
“I see lots of potential with the orchestras,” Matuszak said. “I think the key is a lot of hard work, and knowing it’ll pay off. As long as we work together as a team, encourage each other, and help each other out, every group is capable to perform at high levels.”
He added that this year there is a new seating arrangement for the orchestras and more focus on scales and a warm-up routine.
Choir students are experiencing new choir classes this year with the different teaching style of Pecsi compared to Karen Wysocky, who retired in June after shepherding the WBHS music program for 30 years. West junior Andrew Haese said he is learning new concepts in concert choir this year and believes Pecsi is adjusting well to being the new choral teacher.
“I think Mr. Pecsi is a very kind and hardworking teacher and has a lot of potential to offer to the choral program,” Haese said.
West junior Kelsey Nowack is also enjoying choir this school year, and is impressed with what Vivace has accomplished.
“I appreciate having a say in what we get to sing, and we are all very excited to try new styles outside of barbershop. Mr. Pecsi is bringing a fresh new perspective to the choral program,” Nowack said.
“Every choir has shown me they are ready to take the next step and go further.”
– David Pecsi, choir teacher
Matuszak has also brought a new kind of teaching, different from the previous teacher, Josh Zallar. Although Zallar, like Wysocky, is widely missed, Matuszak has already found his place as the new face of the orchestra program. West senior Clara Hunt, a member of the school’s chamber orchestra, sees the positivity in this change.
“I think that, given time and confidence, Mr Matuszak can and will evolve the program to what he wants, and what the students need,” Hunt said. “This program has an immense amount of potential going forward thanks to incredibly talented students, and a wonderful new teacher. I look forward to seeing what the program I love becomes.”
Pecsi is also going to continue the choir tradition of singing the “Hallelujah Chorus” at the annual Christmas concert.
“It’s a tradition that enough people appreciate and it’s nice to see the alumni come back every year and participate in it,” Pecsi said. “I wouldn’t dream of giving it up.”
In being the new music teacher, Pecsi also is the director of the school’s winter musical. His choice for this year’s performance was The Addams Family. He is looking forward to the show being a success.
“I wanted to choose something that was familiar and [recognizable], yet something that hasn’t been done around here and was new and exciting,” Pecsi said.
As well as continuing on with the Pops Orchestra and participating in the Madrigal Dinner, Matuszak is planning to bring in new clubs and opportunities to the orchestra. He hopes to form a rock orchestra.
“I want it to eventually become a big production, kind of like a band,” Matuszak said.
He also hopes to form a symphony orchestra that would be a collaboration with the band and possibly the choir. While many these ideas have not been formalized, they show how Matuszak is already creating his mark.
“Mr. Matuszak is awesome! We are looking forward to collaborating not only on the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ but we’re looking forward to other opportunities for the orchestra and choir to work together,” Pecsi said.
(Image: New music teachers Seth Matuszak, left, and David Pecsi pose in the music hallway. Photograph courtesy of Andrew Haese.)