By Tom Maguire
Naturally friendly and exuberantly musical, Dominick Corbacio made a big impression when he met Bishop Ludden Junior-Senior High School vocal music teacher Marty Cotton in 2002.
In an email, Mrs. Cotton, who is now retired from teaching, tells the story:
“I was holding auditions for incoming 7th graders who wanted to be in choir and Dominick walked in with a small briefcase in hand and apologized for being a little late — he was coming from a piano lesson.
“I asked him if he would play something for me and his response was “Sure — would Beethoven be okay?
“That was Dominick. Unassuming and unaware of the tremendous amount of talent he possessed at such a young age. And then he sang…oh my goodness!”
She added: “Dominick was a student at Bishop Ludden during an exciting time of expansion of the Art and Music program which included an entire new Fine Arts Building. Students like Dominick are proof that this was time and money well spent.”
Told of her comments, Dominick said, “Wow, that’s awesome! She had a massive part in my music education. She was very passionate about teaching kids music. Her encouragement led me to home in on a vocal career.”
Ludden and other diocesan officials are proud of what Corbacio did for Ludden, and they cheer what he is doing now as an operatic tenor. He, in turn, is touched by their interest.
Here are some other comments about Dominick, and his reaction to them:
Father Daniel C. Muscalino, pastor of St. Francis Xavier Church, Marcellus, and also a teacher at Ludden: “He was obviously a really good singer in school. He’s also a good kid. He has a good sense of humor. He has a really good supportive family.”
Dominick: “He was a supportive figure because despite the fact that he wears a collar, you could talk to him like a person. He never put on airs. He encouraged me to be a free thinker and to explore different options, and to read, and to study, to really discover what it really was I needed to do to be happy in my own life.”
William W. Crist, Diocese of Syracuse superintendent of schools (email): “It is both gratifying and validating to know that one of our recent Bishop Ludden alumni is making a name for himself in the world of opera, oratorio, and art song. Dominick Corbacio got his start in the hallways and stages of Bishop Ludden Jr./Sr. High School under the capable direction of his Choral and Drama teachers, Marty Cotton and Tom Pietropaolo, respectively. We are energized by his young artistry and proud of the excellent example of a young man he represents partly through his Catholic school education at Bishop Ludden.”
Dominick: “I’m humbled. It’s kind of gratifying because I got my start at Bishop Ludden and teachers change and such, but I owe a lot to that environment as a whole.”
Anne Jamison, current choral director at Ludden (email): “I have heard him sing through the Syracuse Children’s Chorus, with which I have been involved in several ways for the past few years. Dominick is truly incredible! … It is unusual for a young student to focus with such tenacity on an instrument (including voice). Dominick’s mother told me he worked very hard on his voice lessons while in this area and obviously that hard work has paid off and he has ‘made it’ in the professional world of classical musicians (with many rave reviews from critics, including one from the New York Times!) I think his voice has an incredible agility, power and expressiveness that makes him extraordinary!”
Dominick: “I know she’s brilliant. She’s dedicated to fostering the growth of music in young kids’ lives; she wouldn’t be doing it if she weren’t good at it. A lot of kids might not end up sticking with music, but she gives them the attention she would give a professional.”
Tom Pietropaolo, teacher who has performed in and directed Ludden shows: “He was always outstanding at those Broadway shows, any kind of vocal role that he would have. … You’d go: ‘Wow, this kid’s going far.’ … He got along with everybody, just a fun kid to have in your program. … A very fine comedic actor, he worked at his craft. He’s serious, he studied, … he learned. Besides being a tremendous talent, he worked very hard at it.”
Dominick: “It was hilarious being a 16-year-old kid in rehearsal and seeing him up there, acting, having fun. He’s brilliant, and he’s a riot. He clearly enjoyed himself and that’s why he did it. What high school teacher would stay late and say, ‘Hey, I want to be in the play’? As a teacher, he was completely encouraging, if you had a rehearsal. He was flexible and knew how to use his discretion. He also taught one of my favorite classes, history. You saw him doing what he loves.”