By: Kate Gruetter and Lucy Panicacci
National/World and Culture Editors
When asked to describe himself in five words, Martin Panicacci pleaded the fifth. A talented musician and fabulous performer, it’s possible that the Los Gatos High School senior is simply too interesting to confine to five words, or he’s just too indecisive to choose.
Panicacci began playing the cello eight years ago. When signing up for classes, Panicacci somehow ended up in choir. Upset with his placement, Panicacci convinced his parents to let him study the cello, an interest he still pursues today. “I just wanted to have a big instrument because I thought that was cool,” Panicacci first confessed. However, he chose the stringed contraption for more than just its cool factor: “I felt like the cello was like a really balanced sound . . . I like that it’s [in] the human voice range. And it kind of also reflects my own voice. So there’s like a cool parallel there,” he later clarified.
The cellist doesn’t just play the instrument, but he also “find[s] these arrangements of different [songs] online, especially like bossa nova and jazz and [he’ll] take that and split it up into totally different cello parts . . . and [he’ll] create little projects, like songs like that.” Although Panicacci loves this layering exercise, he admits he doesn’t do it as often as he used to, on account of how much time the process takes.
In addition to cello, Panicacci’s passion extends to musical theater. After performing in a variety of musicals over the past eight years, his favorite performance is when he played Jean Valjean in Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. Although Panicacci says the role was “overwhelming” at first, it helped challenge him in a good way. He remarked, “[It was] the biggest role [I] ever had in a sense because it’s just a lot of singing and then, a lot of the stuff I followed was almost out of my range…I just felt it was a show that really pushed me vocally.” In addition to his performance in Les Misérables, Panicacci starred as William Bloom in Big Fish, Caldwell B. Cladwell in Urinetown, and Albert Peterson in Bye Bye Birdie.
Although Panicacci occasionally feels that every school day “blends into one,” the high school class that challenged him the most is AP Physics. Enjoying the concepts of physics, Panicacci plans to major in the sciences. “I’m super intrigued by the relationship between music and the brain,” he stated. “I’ve seen ways that can treat this thing called aphasia which is when you can’t speak after a stroke, music can help.” In five years, this skillful senior hopes to be researching more about the connection between the brain, music, and memory. A multi-talented musician, singer, and scholar, Panicacci has a showstopper of a future ahead of him.
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