Sebastian Altomare ’23 is a three-year-Upper from Belmont, Mass. He is involved with many performing arts groups on campus, and most recently played bass for the Indigo act in Grasshopper. He is also fluent in French from speaking with his grandfather, a native French speaker from Morocco.
What groups are you a part of on campus?
On campus, I’m one of the coheads of Keynotes, along with Jane Park ’22 and Jack Warren ’22. I’m on the board of the French Club, as well as a member of Handbell Choir. I play bass in a jazz ensemble with three other stellar musicians, Chase Reynders ’22, Jacob Kaiser ’24, and Sinan Muratoglu ’24. And apparently a newly formed band Indigo which just got the opportunity to perform at GHOP.
Which commitment is the most time consuming?
The most time consuming one would be Keynotes because I’m always working on attempting to arrange new possible pieces outside of rehearsal. But that’s not at all to say that the most time consuming is the most draining. It’s exactly the opposite because rehearsals, performances, and moments with Keynotes make up some of my favorite memories.
How do you think this year’s Grasshopper event went compared to previous years?
One aspect of the show, as in GHOP 2019, that I think remained constant and vibrant as ever was the incredible support from all the students and performers. The show really thrives on interaction from the crowd, and we all perform at a whole different level when the audience is super loud and engaged. It’s also very endearing and makes us happy to see that they are interested in what we’ve prepared. That excitement and support was present just like previous years.
How do you feel about your Grasshopper performance?
I think our energy was very high and continued to climb as the crowd engaged with us. I think our stage presence was pretty good, especially from our front man, Jason Zhang ’23. Whenever he wasn’t playing rhythm guitar, he came to the front of the stage and got really into it. As for the quality of sound, I think that improved as we progressed through each show. Getting feedback from the audience and from our monitors, we continuously altered the levels and tone on our instruments to make them sound tighter. So, the sound was a learning experience, but I think the last show really did sound good.
Were you less nervous compared to your first Grasshopper Junior year?
I was definitely less nervous than my first GHOP as I’ve performed a lot more since then. But there was a bit more pressure on this performance since it was a much smaller group than my freshman year GHOP. The one thing I was nervous about was the technical side of our act. We’d been having a couple problems through tech rehearsals, and we were hoping that that wouldn’t blend into the shows. Luckily, it didn’t for the first three. Of course, it had to happen for the fourth and final show. At the beginning of the act, we couldn’t get the track to start playing. Nevertheless, I still truly believe that was our best show. It started off with a hiccup, but we finally got the track to start playing and our energy and sound were both at their peak.
What do you feel are some of the best and worst parts of Grasshopper?
I think the positives all revolve around the immense support you receive from everyone who comes to the show. I really really love performing, and it’s such a fun environment to be a part of. I think a negative would be the time commitment and the proximity of the shows to other performances. For the GHOP performers who also do orchestra, band, or chorus, they must run from the first GHOP show to the other concert back to the second GHOP show. But it’s all fun, and it’s definitely worth it.
How do you manage your stress on campus?
Whenever I have time, I like to go to Graves to unwind. I’m definitely not the best singer by any means, but playing keys and singing to myself always helps me to feel relaxed. Graves sessions, especially with other people, always make me happy.
What’s your favorite subject and why?
I’ve always really liked Music Theory. On top of simply how interesting I find it, it’s such a useful tool when trying to solo and improvise over a tune. Additionally, I also find it so interesting how different cultures’ music view dissonance. In Western music, we tend to hate dissonance. But elsewhere, music is drawn towards dissonance and employs it in very thoughtful ways.
If you had a bucket list for your remaining time at Andover, what would be on it?
I know a couple people in Astronomy, so going up to the observatory seems like it could be pretty fun. I also want to continue to perform as much as possible, but that’s not very concrete. I’m not sure; I should probably think about that one more
What do you want to pursue when you grow older?
Honestly, I have no idea. I have absolutely no idea. Whenever I try to think about that, nothing immediately comes to mind. But, performing or playing live always gives me such an incredible feeling, so maybe that’s an indication of what I want to pursue.