Walpole High School has always been known for being a sports town. However, what is unknown about Walpole students is their talent in the arts. Music is a passion for current students and alumni, as they become individual artists through instruction and practice. Students Claire Sullivan, Halle Losordo and Griffin Wilkins, as well as alumni Caleb Cofsky, Noah Milette, Zach Ganshirt and Rocco Frattasio aspire to make it big in the industry through their dedication to making their music heard.
Class of 2015
Being passionate about music comes naturally to 2015 WHS graduate Rocco Frattasio. As a kid, his Uncle John taught him his first guitar riff of “Smoke on the Water.” He would write down original lyrics during the school day and his Uncle Fin bought him his first guitar— a black Mexican Fender Strat.
Frattasio was a Renaissance child, in love with sports and all different forms of art. However, as he grew older, his priorities narrowed down to music, as his singing and writing began to feel like his life’s calling. Observing musicians such as John Mayer, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Bob Dylan and Jim Croce created a longing for him to become at the same level of his favorite artists.
“I was simply chiseling away at myself, much like a sculptor does with a big piece of marble. I was a giant insecure piece of marble with no shape or definition,” Frattasio said. “I think everyone goes through that in their own way, you have to. Nobody is born ready-made.”
Aside from being influenced by musicians, Frattasio’s art is impacted by writers like Dylan Thomas, Charles Bukowski and S.E. Hinton, along with films such as The Loser, The Delicate Delinquent and The Apartment.
“My music puts a heavy importance on feel and lyrics. The feel is spacious, atmospheric, mellow, and bluesy. The lyrics tend to be philosophical in an existential sense, but can also be very simple and used to compliment the feel,” Frattasio said. “I am a firm believer that sadness is the key to happiness and authenticity, and sadness plays a big role in my music.”
Frattasio’s music can be found on his album “Life, And Other Dreams,” which is on Spotify and YouTube. Two more albums are in the works, including “Love Is For Real People,” which will be released in October. He regularly performs at an outdoor bar called “The Slab” in Estes Park, Colorado; he hopes to fly back to Walpole for an event and explore the states for more opportunities.
“Fight for yourself. Fight for that inner feeling and voice that’s telling you it wants something more than the usual,” Frattasio said. “Fight for it, because no one else will. By far the most important thing: Dream.”
Class of 2019
A typical Walpole High school musician may be required to stay after school one day each week for Orchestra or Jazz Choir; however, for Griffin Wilkins, he is singing and dancing from 3:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. practically every day.
Walpole High School junior Griffin Wilkins spends six days a week at the Franklin School For the Performing Arts (FSPA) in Franklin, Massachusetts, where he is constantly practicing and performing with other local musicians.
Wilkins is not in the average performing group; in fact, he has actually spent summers in Europe, singing in front of audiences around the world.
“I think a standout moment in my musical career was of course touring Europe and performing in front of foreign crowds,” Wilkins said. “Another highlight would be performing and taking master classes in Disney World in Downtown Disney, where we do a medley of songs under a certain theme.”
Wilkins is continuing to expand his musical career, hoping to join new regional performing troupes.
“I actually recently auditioned again for the European touring group, Electric Youth, which has shows throughout the year. Also, I am in the musical Spamalot at the Franklin Performing Arts Company, as well as the the Nutcracker in December with the same company,” said Wilkins.
When preparing for a performance, Wilkins is practicing at FSPA.
“For music, I take voice classes for two days a week and a lot of the time I have a rehearsal for a show at night,” said Wilkins.
When Wilkins is not performing around Europe, he has also been involved in various activities in Walpole High.
“I was in pep band and band class for two years, as well as marching band for a year, so that really helped me learn rhythm and tempo and a good amount of technical work in music, which I am so thankful for,” said Wilkins. “Also, being in film really helped me with my acting skills which help in musicals.”
In his music career thus far, Wilkins has enjoyed all his performances and learning experiences.
“My favorite part of the musical experience has been meeting all the amazing people that are within the musical community. There is something different about them,” said Wilkins.
“Everyone I meet in this industry is either so friendly or has an amazing story or has something so incredible to say. And I get to call some of them my best friends, which is amazing.”
Class of 2013
Caleb Cofsky, a 2013 Walpole High School graduate, has a musical style influenced by The Beatles, The Grateful Dead, The Who, and Neil Young.
His first big step in his musical journey was playing in downtown Walpole.
“It gives you confidence when you can entertain a crowd of people, the confidence necessary to keep pursuing music,” Cofsky said.
Currently, he has a YouTube channel focused on acoustic music. He has videos of covers, as well as original songs. His most popular video is a cover of Gregg Allman’s “Come and Go Blues.” Cofsky is currently releasing YouTube videos weekly.
Additionally, he released a 13-track album and a few singles and is working on a second album. He will play in the city of Colorado Springs in the fall.
His personal style in his band Tommy The Animal is called Tommy Rock, which is his unique take on a mix between the styles of himself and his influences.
“Any time I have trouble writing a new song, I think ‘what would John Lennon do in this situation? And it usually helps me,” Cofsky said.
Cofsky feels that with the more practice he has writing songs and playing shows, he is always improving as an artist.
The moment Cofsky knew that he wanted to be a musician was when watching “The Kids are Alright,” a documentary on The Who. He especially looked up to the rhythm guitarist, Pete Townshend, for his captivating stage presence and songwriting ability.
From a young age, Cofsky obtained a passion for the classics from his supportive parents, who he sees as rock stars. His dad would play cassette tapes of his favorite artists, and his mom enjoyed the Talking Heads and Billy Joel.
In addition to having multiple ideas for new music, he has an innate ability to write songs.
He values the friendship that comes along with playing music. One of his fondest memories is when he and his band rode bicycles around the stage during a two minute drum solo in one of his outdoor shows.
“[My parents] listened to so much music that I actually turned into a guitar,” Cofsky said. “They had to bring me to the hospital to get me back into human form.”
Class of 2019
Halle Losordo, a junior at Walpole High School, started loving music at a young age. With influences such as Amy Winehouse and Sam Cooke, Losordo admires the powerhouse and soulful singers.
Ever since elementary school, she enjoyed going to music class and singing whenever she had the chance. In the sixth grade, Losordo sang in her first recital, and learned that she loves performing.
“[It] was definitely a standout moment since when I was younger I would be really shy and refused to sing in front of anyone, so during my recital it was the first time anyone in my family had heard me sing,” Losordo said.
Today, she participates in the high school musical productions, but most of her experience singing is out of school. In sixth grade, Losordo began taking lessons with Joanna Gaughan, but currently is instructed by Richard Travers in Westwood.
“Singing lessons over the years have taught me how to control [my] voice through breathing techniques, and the placement of my voice,” Losordo said. “The most important thing my teacher told me was probably the time he said to make my voice my own, basically meaning to be different than everyone else because nobody wants to hear something they’ve already heard from another person.”
Losordo has learned how to become a musician by recording music in a studio. Her music can be found on YouTube and at different local events. Her channel has two videos: a cover of Adele’s “All I Ask” and her rendition of James Arthur’s “Say You Won’t Let Go.”
When looking into her plans for the future, Losordo will consider either a career in music or film. Her dad is her number-one fan, so she knows that she will have support with going into art.
“One thing that I have learned is to never let the fear of putting yourself out there get to you and just be confident because you’ll get good results in the end instead of holding yourself back,” Losordo said.
Noah Millette and Zach Ganshirt
Class of 2015
For Walpole High alumni Noah Millette and Zach Ganshirt, music has always been a large aspect of their everyday life. Now, music plays an even bigger role in their life, as they are two out of three members in Transitions, an alternative band that consists of Millette, Ganshirt, and friend Haley Senft.
“Music isn’t just a hobby or enjoyment for me, it’s a way to heal and express myself. I find playing and listening to music very therapeutic and I’ve always used it to sort through my emotions as long as I can remember,”said Millette.
Millette, WHS class of 2015, first began writing music in his early teenage years. In 2015, he joined his first band and began recording and releasing original music. Meanwhile, Ganshirt was part of a small band when he was only 13, but he credits his first legitimate experience in music to a band called Do No Harm, which he joined when he was 18.
Transitions’ music culminates the musical tastes and styles of all three members.
“Paramore is definitely one of my biggest influences on whole. They’re one of the first bands I got into and I still love them. Balance and Composure, PVRIS and A Loss For Words have definitely been very big influences for me,”said Millette.
“My musical taste is pretty eclectic. The band I’m in now doesn’t necessarily reflect what I listen to, but it makes things more interesting,”said Ganshirt. I mainly listen to genres within the metal and hardcore sound, but I’m also into emo, punk, post-hardcore, pop, and old school rap.”
So far, Transitions has released their first EP, p.u.p., and have played several shows around the area.
“Recording our EP was the most pivotal moment for us in our career and as people, we learned so much and made so many incredible memories and friends during that week,” said Millette.
For the future of Transitions, the band is hoping to release more music and continue to play together as a band.
“We have a show in October and we’re hoping to release a music video and some more music by the end of this year,” said Millette.
As aspiring musicians, both Millette and Ganshirt support all growing musicians.
“Do your own thing. Don’t be anyone but yourself,” said Ganshirt. “Music is all about self expression, and the more genuine you are, the better your music will be. Also, be as diverse as possible with the music you listen to. There’s so much out there!”
Class of 2018
Senior Claire Sullivan has dreamed of being a music star ever since she began to sing. She moved from Milan, Italy to a small town in the United States, and observed the amount of success that other singers—Miley Cyrus, Dolly Parton, and Britney Spears—had from small towns.
At her first show in Burlington, Vermont at the age of 13, Sullivan was exposed to the world of performing. Recently, she had a show at Adam’s Farm, and she will be in many performances in October, including having a lot at the Boston Arts Festival on Oct. 9th.
Sullivan has been approached by different labels to sign, but she declined the offers in order to continue her high school experience. In the meantime, she develops her artistry at Bristol Studios in Boston, and she has trained with a producer who worked with Lady Gaga, Rihanna, and Justin Bieber.
She also participates in Walpole High School music, like the choir, drama club, the musical, and piano lab. Practicing one to four hours a day every day each week is part of her routine that focuses on perfecting her skills. She has worked with people to write original songs, but has focused mostly on covers.
Being a musician is innate in the Sullivan family: her mother is a pianist and singer, and her father’s side of the family is very musical. Her family, especially her sister Ana, is her biggest supporter throughout her musical endeavor.
Her musical style is a mix between an individual take and the features of her idols.
“It’s pop and a flare of country,” Sullivan said.
In her future, Sullivan dreams of moving to Los Angeles, California or Nashville, Tennessee. She has reached out to labels, artists, and music producers in Los Angeles to get a head start.
Sullivan’s steps to her career are not partial to herself: she loves to see others pursuing a career in art like her.
“Never give up. I always say life’s a climb,” Sullivan said. “It’s all about those steps: the littlest steps that will take you to where you want to be.”