Cranston East student recipient of first Music on the Hill scholarship

Posted 12/6/22

Liam De Rosa, 16, got into music early in life. At age six, he started playing the piano, at seven he took up the violin and by 10, he began learning the viola. Now, he is the recipient of the first …

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Cranston East student recipient of first Music on the Hill scholarship


Liam De Rosa, 16, got into music early in life. At age six, he started playing the piano, at seven he took up the violin and by 10, he began learning the viola. Now, he is the recipient of the first annual Music on the Hill scholarship which directly supports the continued study of classical music performance.

Since September, East Greenwich’s Music on the Hill has solicited applications for its inaugural scholarship event. The organization sought applications from young musicians ages 13 to 18 who were vocalists, pianists, string, wind and brass players. All applications were adjudicated on the basis of musicianship and performance.

John Pellegrino, who has been Music on the Hill’s artistic director for the last 15 years, said the scholarship was one of many ideas talked about by the board as a way to extend outreach in the community to inspire/enhance musical educational opportunities for youngsters in the state.

The organization already provides educational components for students with Pellegrino saying that Music on the Hill does not charge students admission to its concerts as a way of encouraging student attendance. The organization also performs an educational outreach concert for Warwick students so they can learn about musicians’ careers and artistic lives while get to know more about various instruments. Additionally, the organization will sometimes host interns who learn about stage set up and how to present a concert.

De Rosa’s $400 award will go toward supporting further musical study and a performance opportunity in our 2023 festival. According to Music on the Hill Scholarship, the awards are disbursed directly to the winners’ designated instructor, ensemble program, summer opportunity, or school, conservatory, or college music fee.

Usually once a week, De Rosa can be found at Boston University School of Music with his viola teacher Daniel Dona. As of now, De Rosa’s dream job now is to go into full-time orchestra music playing or chamber music playing. Out of the instruments he’s learned so far, the viola is his favorite.

“My relationship with the viola turned out to be better than I thought it would be,” said De Rosa Friday.

De Rosa remembers being told as a violinist that being able to play the viola was a good skill to have. As a member of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, the organization needed someone to fill the viola seat so De Rosa stepped in.

Part of the application process involved submitting a four to eight minute video recording, so De Rosa played Forsyth Viola Concerto 2nd Movement. In addition to the monetary award, De Rosa will participate in Music on the Hill’s festival on June 5. De Rosa said will perform his audition piece and will be accompanied by pianist Juan Rios of St. Luke’s Church. Pellegrino said he was so moved by how De Rosa played and what he played that he wanted to integrate this work into the concert.

As for what stood out to the selection committee about De Rosa’s application, Pellegrino said his musical ideas came through clearly. Additionally, his technical skill set was demonstrated and his control of intonation extremely strong. The panel also noted the professional manner that he recorded himself and carried himself.

“He’s a very polished young man,” said Pellegrino.

When De Rosa found out about the competition, he thought it would be a competitive event when looking at the panel which consisted of individuals who have played in chamber groups around the world.

“I was shocked to say the least,” De Rosa said. “I couldn't believe that out of all the people who auditioned that it could have been me. I would like to thank everyone at Music on the Hill for this opportunity.”

De Rosa, a Cranston High School East student, has made RIMEA All State Orchestra three years in a row where he placed first in the state with the viola. Most recently De Rosa found out that he is a Merit Prize Winner in the 2023 YoungArts National Competition. He shared that he is not the only musical person in his family; his mom is part of the Providence Singers, a 100-voice auditioned concert choir that performs with the Rhode Island Philharmonic and other area ensembles.

Music can have a lasting influence on an individual. Pellegrino shared that years ago, Margaret Butler – a famous oboe player – approached Pellegrino and let him know that the first time she attended Music on the Hill concert, she was a flute player. Hearing the oboe inspired her to switch instruments.

“It’s a moving story to know that an organization can inspire and shape without even trying to,” Pellegrino said.

The second prize of $200 for supporting further study went to saxophonist Giancarlo D'Agostino, 18, of Wakefield. The two were selected by six ensemble members. Applications for the 2024 scholarship will open in September 2023.

Music on the Hill’s mission is to present an annual nationally recognized concert series. According to the organization’s website, “this music festival brings home professional musicians and their friends who are eager to share their passion for music with a community they love. Music on the Hill hopes to inspire future generations with exciting performances featuring chamber music and innovative programming in both traditional and non-traditional settings.”

Music on the Hill was established in 1974 at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, East Greenwich, when Music Director Priscilla Rigg launched a series of traditional chamber music concerts at the church, featuring well-known artists and ensembles.


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