Mr. Jim Papoulis, published in the Bernardsville News, December 21, 2016
“My name is Jim Papoulis, and I am a composer of music who focuses on choral works, published by Boosey and Hawkes. The reason I am writing is to talk about an extraordinary music educator in your community, Barbara Retzko from Ridge High School.
I have the opportunity to travel in both the United States and internationally, working with over 10,000 singers a year. I have a unique perspective to observe many choral programs and directors, seeing what works and what does not work.
In September of 2016, I was invited by Ms. Retzko to visit your community and work with six schools, where I conducted song writing workshops with all of the schools, culminating in a choral day, "Choralpalooza," in October.
I had the opportunity to watch Barbara work with her choir... I observed her musicality, in her choral room,' saw the camaraderie in her group, and I had the opportunity to watch Barbara work with her choir... I observed her musicality, in her choral room,' saw the camaraderie in her group, and I was
completely moved with the experience beyond what I have ever experienced.
This is a woman who has brought an extremely high level of professionalism to the community, who knows music and conducting better than any high school director I have worked with, who creates a community of respect and reverence, and is an absolute gift in the world of music, education and society. I have never, in my 16 years of traveling the music world, witnessed such an incredible level of inspiration that she gives her students. Her musicality and respect that she shows, and the musicality she draws out of her students is simply unmatched. The level of the choir, for a high school, is as good as any I have worked with.
You have a gem in your community. Not only for creating an upper echelon choir, but for influencing the lives of these students, in ways that cannot be properly expressed on paper. I am forever inspired by Barbara Retzko, and will always hold my experience in your community in my heart. It will continue to be a source of inspiration to me.
My deepest appreciation for a most wonderful educator. You are very fortunate to have her in your community and I felt compelled to share my respect for this wonderful woman.
JIM PAPOULIS Brookline, Mass.