Dominican Students Jazzed for Virtual Interview with Pianist

Music was the subject when Mrs. Claudia Vallejo’s  Spanish Advanced Placement (AP) class joined students from Loyola Blakefield High School in Maryland for a virtual interview via Zoom with pianist Oscar Rossignoli of Honduras. The students interviewed him about how his interest in music led to building a music career. At the age of six, Mr. Rossignoli began training in classical music. By age 11, he was playing in church. When he was a high school student, at a conservatory he discovered Latin jazz through Dominican pianist Michel Camilo. In 2007, he made his first trip to the United States and auditioned at Berklee College of Music in Boston that gave him a scholarship. However the scholarship did not cover all costs and he returned to Honduras where friends who had attended Louisiana State University informed him about Dr. Willis Deloney, the music director and a piano teacher who played jazz and classical music. Mr. Rossignoli accepted a music scholarship from LSU where he continued his classical studies and earned a bachelor’s degree in three years. He also holds a master’s degree in Jazz Studies from University of New Orleans (UNO).

Among his accolades, he was named the 2015-16 American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) Louis Armstrong Scholar at UNO by the New York-based ASCAP Foundation. He was also recognized as a finalist for the Ellis Marsalis International Jazz Piano Summer 2018 Competition. The Ellis Marsalis International Jazz Piano Competition is meant to be the most comprehensive, challenging, and in-depth jazz piano competition in the world.  New Orleans is now his home where plays with some of New Orleans’ best jazz musicians, including fellow members of Extended, that includes drummer Brad Webb of Lafayette, LA, and bassist Matt Booth, a Washington, DC native and former Pittsburg, PA resident. The two also call New Orleans home.

The two Spanish classes were able to do the joint interview, thanks to Mrs. Vallejo’s knowing Loyola Blakefield’s AP Spanish teacher Irma Noyola who used to live in New Orleans. “My friend and I decided to connect our classes so they could practice Spanish.  Their interview with Mr. Rossignoli was the first time that the students meet. The idea is that we can continue connecting our classes for specific activities and projects, including discussing articles, documentaries, and doing more interviews,” shared Mrs. Vallejo.

Earlier this month, Mrs. Vallejo’s Spanish III class connected with a class in Medellin, Colombia to discuss with their peers a digital newspaper and ideas for articles, including social problems in the world and possible solutions.   

In September, classes connected virtually with Holocaust Museum Houston’s Associate Director of Education – Outreach Laurie Garcia and participated in the museum’s Upstanders Project. The Upstanders program is rooted in Holocaust education and challenges students to study one of the world’s paramount examples of prejudice in order to understand the role each of us plays in shaping a better future.