WILMINGTON — Nicolo Bautista is a man of few words. He prefers to let his music do the talking.
Bautista, a junior at St. Mark’s High School, and his considerable talent traveled to Nashville, Tenn., the last week of October to perform at Opryland as part of the All-National Honors Ensemble at a National Association for Music Education (NAfME) conference. The St. Mark’s High School junior joined “the best of the best,” according to NAfME.
NAfME has geographic divisions, but this ensemble will have students from all over the country. There was little time for sightseeing in Nashville, St. Mark’s music teacher Pauline DeAscanis said, as rehearsals took up most of the students’ time. DeAscanis attended the conference, but said beforehand she would be unlikely to see Bautista once they arrived.
“The last day they have the concert,” she said.
It’s the latest honor for the 16-year-old. He’s been a member of all-state groups since he was a seventh-grade student at Holy Cross School in Dover. Last year he sang in a chorus at Carnegie Hall in New York, DeAscanis said.
“Nicolo plays piano, and he sings. He plays saxophone in our band. He plays violin in my string ensemble. He’s an all-around musician and a good student,” she said.
Bautista’s parents, both physicians, play the piano, and his younger sister, Bernadette, a St. Mark’s sophomore, is a musician, as are his two younger brothers. Bautista showed his talents at a young age.
“When I was four, I started playing piano. … Then I started doing violin, saxophone and singing, I think all in the fifth grade,” he said before his trip to Nashville. “I just really like music and being able to express myself, really.”
Bautista, 16, lives in Magnolia but chose St. Mark’s, more than 50 miles away, because of its music program and academics. He and his sister were making the daily commute until the middle of last year, when his parents purchased a home a few minutes from St. Mark’s. DeAscanis said Bautista never missed a rehearsal or event while making the trip to and from Magnolia, showing dedication to his craft.
“It’s been great. I like it here,” Bautista said.
He is more than a year and a half from graduation, but he said music will likely become a hobby. He would like to be a doctor, preferably a plastic surgeon or cardiologist.
At St. Mark’s Bautista is a member of the National Honor Society and the Key Club, a service organization. Bautista, who is of Filipino descent, formed a music group with friends from Kent County. They’ve performed concerts to help raise money for areas of the Philippines that were hit by Typhoon Haiyan last year. DeAscanis said that Bautista has a village named after him in the Philippines for his generosity.
Bautista said he is just following his father’s example of doing community service. “My dad founded this bigger organization, and he decided that there should be a junior board for it, and that’s where it came from.”
Bautista did not volunteer the information about his benefit concerts until prompted by DeAscanis. Listen to him sing or play an instrument, however, and it’s a different story.
“He doesn’t push it in your face, but when he’s near a piano, you know it,” DeAscanis said. “True musicians, they can’t stay away from their music.”