A Best Communities for Music Education recipient

since 2013


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Staples High School, Westport CT
Finally returning to the stage, December 18 of the 81st Candlelight Concerts.
Photo by Jerri Graham

In accordance with safety protocols, Staples Music is working hard to maintain a safe

learning environment and is following best practices based upon ongoing research. For the latest updates please refer to this websites COVID-19 page. 

District policy currently sets audience capacity at 50% maximum occupancy.

Please refer to this website throughout the school year for updated information about events & performances. 

JAN 14-15  Western Region HS Festival ON HOLD due to pandemic complications

Greenwich High School

For updates go to https://cmea.org/student-events/western-region/western-region-high-school/ 

JAN 27 Jazz & Java Concert

7:00pm, Staples High School Cafeteria


Thank You from Staples Music

Video highlights of the 81st Annual Candlelight Concerts held December 16-18, 2021. 

"Fantasie for Piano, Choir & Orchestra Op.80" from Candlelight, in its entirety, featuring combined instrumental and choral groups and soloists: Piano, Sasha Maskoff; Vocals, Sophia Betit, Shanti Wimmer, Jackie Peterson, Sydney Gusick, Emily Desser, Lauranne De Vos, Samuel Betit, Peter Macris, James Dobin-Smith, Zach Berman, Jeffrey Pogue, and Ryan Porio

Candlelight could not happen without the many hands that are involved in its creation and execution; our talented student musicians, the Staples Music Parent Association, sound, lighting & video technicians, students, front of house volunteers, the SHS custodial staff and so many more.... thank you. We also would like to especially thank those who generously donated, including our ad patrons listed below:

AAA Band Rentals


Blossom & Stem

Bridgewater Prep

Cynthia Gibb's Triple Threat Academy

Dianna Betit Vocal Arts

Earth Animal

Elaine Schanzenbach, Raveis

European Wax

Freudigman & Billings

Gault Family Companies

Leverage Media Solutions

Maya Murphy


Norwalk Youth Symphony

Oliver Nurseries and Design Associates

Susan Terry Vocal Studio

Teresa Meinero

Tina Dragone

Wendy Morgan-Hunter Vocal Studio


Westport School of Music

In response and support of Michigan's Oxford High School after their recent tragic events, SHS Music ensembles paid tribute in music. Groups gathered in December to record a rendition of Oxford's fight song and sent it to be shared with students and their community. See and hear this expression of compassion below.


Oxford Fight Song Video

The Healing Gift of Music

Choral Students Share Their Gifts, But Not by Singing

Mr. Rosenberg's choral students use their voices to spread cheer every holiday season, but this time they're not just singing. The group chose to support other Connecticut students in need by giving to the "Holiday Bear Project," sponsored by the Connecticut Education Association. The Bear Project connects sponsors with nominated students in Connecticut. Sponsors then fill special duffle bags with gifts to be given to their CEF nominees. Just another high note for SHS Choral Ensembles!


BEar Project.png

Present at the dedication of the Karp plaque are (L to R) Mark Soboslai, Rafe Klein, Walter Panek, Bruce Carter, Brian Keane and Bonnie Erickson


Former Staples Music Student, Charlie Karp, Immortalized with Plaque at SHS

Charlie Karp was a musician and award-winning documentarian whose career spanned almost 50 years. Karp, who played guitar with the likes of Buddy Miles, Jimi Hendrix, Keith Richards and many more, was a member of the 1971 Staples High School class.

Earlier this year, the Charlie Karp Foundation made a generous donation to enhance the SHS Music program. As a thank you and in honor of Charlie's accomplishments and his work to inspire young aspiring musicians, a memorial plaque was installed in the SHS Music trophy showcase Nov. 18.

New School Year, New Face at Staples Music

As the halls on the music wing at SHS come alive for the 2021-22 music season, Staples Music would like to welcome aboard Mrs. Caitlin Serpliss. Mrs. Serpliss is the new assistant high school band director as well as the elementary band director at SES.

Caitlin clarinet photo.jpg

For the past 4 years, Mrs. Serpliss has taught grades 4-6 band and jazz band in Regional School District #6. In 2018, she took on the role of chairperson for CT Music Educators Association’s (CMEA) Elementary Honors Band.

Mrs. Serpliss is very enthusiastic about joining the Westport Public Schools community and looks forward to working with Staples High School and Saugatuck Elementary School band students. We also look forward to her creative, coordination, and organization skills helping the Youth Arts Collaborative to continue to flourish.


Staples Jazz Combo Takes Top Prize at 2021 National Jazz Festival

The Staples High School Jazz Combo received First Place honors in the Small Ensemble Division at the 2021 National Jazz Festival, a premier competition that took place in a virtual format in Philadelphia, PA on May 22. 2021. The five accomplished members of the instrumental music department recorded a live performance that adjudicator Oscar Perez described as being very enjoyable and cohesive. The competition drew both live and studio recorded performances from across the country.

Pianist Lucas Lieberman was recognized as the Superior Musician for the entire caption, while trumpeter Delaney McGee and drummer Witt Lindau were named two of the three Outstanding Musicians in the caption. The other members of the combo are Noah Jahnel on tenor saxophone, and Abe Rubin on bass.

The Staples High School Jazz Ensemble also participated in the Large Ensemble caption among a fiercely competitive group of the best high school jazz programs in the United States. Adjudicator Wilbur Wittemann described the group as a “swingin’ band” that was “one of the better bands that we’ve heard, in a tough division.” Wittemann highlighted the stylistic soloing of Lieberman, Rubin, and Jahnel, calling them “stars.”

Staples Band Director Phil Giampietro described the results for both ensembles as “a huge testament to the spirit of our music department students. They have worked so hard from the start of September and they continue to push forward in the face of adversity. In particular the five students of the combo should be commended for the chemistry that is present in their playing, which creates a strong nucleus for the full jazz ensemble and pushes all of us to do our best.”

Performances from the National Jazz Festival are available for viewing on the organization’s YouTube page. A link for their channel can be found at their website, www.nationaljazzfestival.org.


Westport Public Schools Music Program Does it Again

The Westport Public Schools has been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation from the NAMM Foundation for the ninth year in a row. Recognized for its outstanding commitment to music education,  Westport joins 623 districts across the country in receiving this prestigious award for 2021. 

The Best Communities Music Education designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students. Districts that have been recognized by the NAMM Foundation are often held up as models for other educators looking to elevate their own music education programs. 

To qualify for the Best Communities designation, Westport answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program, and community music-making programs. The Music Department has been fortunate to forge partnerships with community organizations such as the Westport Library, the Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts, PTA Cultural Arts and WestPAC, all who recognize and value the importance of the arts in education.

This award also recognizes that Westport is leading the way with learning opportunities as outlined in the new federal education legislation, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). ESSA recommends music and the Arts as important elements in a well-rounded education for all children.

The Westport Music Department’s Vision is to develop our students’ artistic literacy and global awareness by growing their ability to create, perform and respond to diverse music at the highest level in a safe and nurturing environment.


Music has been a timeless way of communication when there were no other words to be said. It can have the power to heal, unify, and transcend all boundaries. It is now more than ever that we need to stay connected in order to listen and learn from each other.

Black Lives Matter.

We stand by our mission to prepare all students to reach their full potential as life-long learners and socially responsible contributors to our global community, yet we remain teachable ourselves in our efforts in order to fully promote that mission through and beyond the current and ongoing racial injustices.

We are proud to be a part of a national association that promotes equity and we stand united with you as the Staples Music community accepting of all of our differences in the hope for a better future. 

We Are Listening. 

Mr. Giampietro, Ms. Mascaro, Mrs. Hockensmith (Muehleise), Mr. Rosenberg, Mrs. Serpliss, Mr. Winters

National Association for Music Education Statement

Equity and Access in Music Education

Inclusivity and Diversity in Music Education