MOTHER’S DAY WEEKEND:
Mother’s Day Weekend, 2002, was special for me in a variety of ways. Tanya, our own lovely daughter, and I spent some quality time together. We spent relaxing hours at a spa, played miniature golf, and enjoyed a delightful meal of at a Planet Hollywood restaurant. When we arrived home late on Saturday, my dear husband Joseph presented me with a beautiful card and a dozen red roses. It couldn’t get any better, I thought. It was too late to attend the 5:00 p.m. Mass at Our Lady of Hope Church, as I usually do, so I decided to go to the Children’s Mass at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday. I day-dreamed my way through the ceremony, as the children’s choir, directed by Larry Abels, filled the church with musical refrains. About half way through the service, there was a solo rendition of the Ave Maria sung by nine-year-old Gabriella Arth. I listened in awe, as did most of the congregation, as this child sang the Ave Maria in Latin, without hesitation, in a crystal clear angelic voice. After she finished, the entire congregation erupted in spontaneous applause. It was obvious that Gabriella had touched the hearts and souls of the people in the church and had given her own mother and other mothers in the audience a special Mother’s Day treat.
Gabriella Arth was born on August 13, 1992 at St. John’s hospital in Queens to Salvatrice and Robert Arth. Shortly thereafter, she was presented for Baptism at Our Lady of Hope Church. Her grandparents, Sara and Vincent Musacchia, looked on with pride, as they welcomed their granddaughter to membership in their parish family. When she was ready for school, her parents enrolled her at The Kew-Forest School in Forest Hills. According to their website, “The Kew-Forest School is an independent co-educational college preparatory school for students grades 1-12.” Head Master, Dr. Peter Lewis, and his faculty focus on a curriculum designed for academic excellence, as well as on music appreciation, facility with languages, and achievement in sports. Gabriella is also a pianist. She speaks highly of her piano tutor, Erika Laszlo.
SINGING IN THE CHOIR:
On a recent Wednesday evening, I met Gabiella and her mom Salvatrice, as they arrived at OLH for weekly choir practice with Music Director, Larry Abels. Without hesitation, Mr. Abels, her only voice coach thus far, spoke of this youthful soprano as a “strong leader, both musically and in other team efforts, as well.” He continued, that her diction and projection were admirable, and she presents herself with an unwavering conviction of her ability to handle musical materials, even those in other languages, as she did with the Ave Maria in Latin. She is “extremely talented,” he said, and concluded “The children are our future, and they too can make an invaluable contribution to God and country.” When I spoke with Gabriella about the choir, her face lit up as she said: “I am never happier than when I am singing in the choir in Church.” She is “inspired” by teen soprano, Charlotte Church, whom she considers her role model.
FIVE YEARS FROM NOW:
Five years from now, Gabriella expects to continue her education at The Kew-Forest School. She plans to persist with her piano lessons, and remain an active and valued member of OLH’s church choir. With special guidance and training, Mr. Ables envisions her voice development moving in the direction of soprano Susan Mello, who sings at the Met, in Boston, in other U.S. cities, as well as in Italy. Her sights are also set on Juilliard School of Music or Columbia University, where she expects to develop not only her voice and musical talents, but also capitalize on her evolving writing abilities.
THE LAST WORD:
As we finished the interview, Monsignor Nicholas Sivillo, Pastor of OLH, was officiating at a wedding rehearsal. I asked for his opinion on this youthful prodigy. And he said: “She has a gift . . . a God-given gift, which she generously shares with our Parish Community.”