Dr. C al Fine: Farewell Dr. Carrizo!


Photo Credit: Mr. Daniel Burke, Mrs. Lisa Russo, Mr. Brian Walker

Dr. Andres Carrizo joined the Cape Henry community in 2016 as both a parent and a faculty member.  His daughter Naima is finishing Pre-K 4 and he teaches students from Grades 4-12 as the Director of Orchestras.  After his wife received an exceptional job opportunity to work at Harvard University, Dr. Carrizo and his family will be trading the beach for Boston.

Over the past three years, Dr. Carrizo has become a beloved teacher and mentor for many students at CHC.  Something that several of his students said about Dr. Carrizo was how he encouraged them to push themselves and work hard to improve their musical abilities, always with a sense of fun and excitement.  Sarah Blais (‘20) said that she appreciated Dr. Carrizo because “Whenever I felt like I couldn’t play a piece, he always reassured me that I could with practice. I will miss the energy he brought within the classroom.”  Brandon Midgette (‘20) shared similar thoughts and said, “Dr. Carrizo just made everything funny and it was a fun class to be in.” Brendan Exterkate (‘22) said, “I’ll miss his puns,” and when asked if he would like to share a particular memory from his time with Dr. Carrizo, Brendan said, “There have been too many classes where we have so much fun that I’m on the floor laughing.  He always makes every class memorable.” Ben Schwantes (‘20) also contributed to the conversation, adding, “I appreciate his focus on the subject at hand and his passion and dedication for music. He’s been one of the teachers that I’ve enjoyed the most.”

These pleasant memories are shared by Dr. Carrizo, as well.  Discussing his favorite part about teaching at Cape Henry, he said, “I loved working with all of my students.  Over three years, I got to see a lot of growth, a lot of development, and see how their ideas, opinions, and interpretations percolated in their heads over time and matured and grew and refined.”  He will surely miss all of the connections he has made with his students, as will they.

Each year, the Middle and Upper School Orchestras perform in the Orchestra Pops Concert.  Rather than playing more classical repertoire, all of the pieces on the program fall under a certain theme.  Dr. Carrizo’s favorite Pops Concert was his first, “Jukebox,” which featured several rock selections from Pink Floyd, AC/DC, and Led Zeppelin.  He shared, “It was really fun to go through it the first time. I enjoyed how the arrangement of ‘Comfortably Numb’ came out in the Middle School Orchestras.  What was missing that time was student arrangements, but I’m glad we got to do that the second and third year.”  

A composer and arranger himself with a Doctorate in Music Composition from the University of Chicago, it was natural for Dr. Carrizo to encourage and mentor his students in arranging their own music for the school’s orchestra ensembles.  A month after the Jukebox Pops Concert at the Upper School Combined Concert, the orchestra’s entire program consisted of student arrangements. This trend continued in the second Pops Concert, “A Night at the Movies,” with arrangements of themes from films like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and The Avengers, and television shows such as Daredevil, Supergirl, and Looney Tunes, all created by students Brandon Midgette and Michael Russo (‘20).  Brandon said he enjoyed arranging pieces because “it gave us a challenge” and it was simply fun to do.  The following concerts featured original compositions by Alex Spady (‘20) and arrangements from Emily Ryan (‘19).

During his tenure at Cape Henry, Dr. Carrizo volunteered his free time to teach a Bell 0 class (Chamber Music) and an Independent Study in Composition.  As a member of the Chamber Music ensemble that met before school, I am grateful to Dr. Carrizo for his dedication to the class and to us and for his extra effort to work with us and give us the opportunity to continue our involvement in the Upper School Orchestra this past year.  His work further goes to show just how devoted he is as a music educator and how he cares for his students.

When asked what his plans are for Boston and the future, Dr. Carrizo responded, “I’m in touch with a lot of ensembles so I’ll be doing a lot of freelance production work, helping groups coming through town set up for concerts and I’ll do some curatorship.  I’ll also have a lot more free time to compose and there’s a lot of pieces on the back burner that I need to get to.” He also shared some last words of advice for his students: “Stay passionate. When you discover something that really excites you, tackle it with verve and gusto. Those are the kinds of things, when you do them and do them right, that will lead to other things that are just as exciting and you could not have predicted.”

From all of your students, thank you, Dr. Carrizo, for your commitment to the Orchestra program at Cape Henry.  We wish you the very best as you bid farewell to CHC and Virginia Beach!