STA Spotlight: Mrs. Brenda LaForce
For St. Thomas Aquinas High School Music Director, Brenda LaForce, music is not just a career but a passion.
“The best musical foundations are in religious music,” she says. Thus, it was only natural that after graduating from The University of New Hampshire she decided to join the St. Thomas Aquinas High School community. Because STA is deeply rooted in the Catholic faith and tradition, Mrs. LaForce has the freedom to incorporate religious music into her classes and performances. Guests of our many STA concerts know that to experience an STA rehearsal, recital or repertoire is to be in the presence of a masterful music director.
When Mrs. LaForce began her career at St. Thomas Aquinas High School, the music program was very small; there were only five students in Chorus. Ten years later, Mrs. LaForce had successfully increased its membership to 108 students! In addition to the STA Chorus and Chamber Singers, Mrs. LaForce leads the STA Concert Band, String Ensemble, and Jazz Band in addition to teaching classes in music theory, music exploration, piano, and guitar. One of the things that brings Mrs. LaForce great pride is how supportive the music students are of each other. "The music students continually build each other up and, despite being a very talented group, interested new members do not need to have prior music experience to join."
The hard work of Mrs. LaForce and her students has paid off. The STA Music Department has a long history of sending students to the prestigious and selective All-State Festival. This year, over half of the St. Thomas Aquinas musicians who auditioned for the All-State Festival were selected to participate. Graduates of STA’s program have gone on to study in prestigious music programs (such as Berklee), have forged into Hollywood careers, have broken into the ever-competitive New York City theatre, and have even owned and operated their own recording studios.
Every other year, the St. Thomas Aquinas Music Department takes its show on the road. Recent trips have included Disney World competitions and service trips in Washington D.C. In April 2019, Mrs. LaForce and the Music Program traveled to Quebec to participate in a McGill University workshop and also performed in the historic Sainte-Anne-de- Beaupré Basilica.
St. Thomas Aquinas High School has not always been Mrs. LaForce’s home. Mrs. LaForce took a brief hiatus from her time at St. Thomas Aquinas to raise her two children and experience career opportunities at different schools. Ultimately, Mrs. LaForce returned to St. Thomas Aquinas High School because “I had to think about my own children. St. Thomas Aquinas High School was the right home for them. I love the supportive and caring environment at STA.” Mrs. LaForce’s children are proud members of the St. Thomas Aquinas High School’s Classes of 2019 and 2022.
Thank you, Mrs. LaForce, for all you do for the community of St. Thomas Aquinas High School. You help all of us appreciate music exactly as we should- in our heart and soul.