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Local Juilliard talent shares musical gift

A Juilliard-trained singer, songwriter, musician, and composer from the Bronx who came to his musical vocation later in life gave a performance of patriotic tunes on Saturday, June 12 that honored the troops and praised God. The performace included some original compositions.

Richard Schnell’s first album, available on CD, is called “Yours, Mine, & Ours.” The Country Club resident gave a performance of the songs on the album at Holy Rosary Church. His first album contains songs that combine his strong faith in God and his admiration for the soldiers who have fought for the freedoms that we enjoy as Americans, including the right to worship in any way we choose.

Schnell, who has worked at the Department of Environmental Protection for 26 years and is currently a supervisor, started out singing karaoke before catching his break in a two-day open audition at Juilliard School of Music in the summer of 2005. He went onto study at the famed music school for several semesters.

“I get chills, literally chills, when I think about the soldiers’ bravery, valor, giving of themselves and sacrificing their lives,” Schnell said of the tribute concert to fallen heroes. “These soldiers are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan. That is why I give tribute to soldiers because it is through them that we have the freedoms we enjoy.”

Schnell takes time out on his CD to thank his teachers at Juilliard. He said they were fantastic in that they started him out on a five-year journey that led him into the world of songwriting and arranging, as well as playing a variety of different instruments for his latest musical endeavor. Of the 13 songs on the album, five are original compositions.

“This is original, patriotic music with a gospel theme,” Schnell said. “I did the majority of the arrangements, instrumentals, and vocals on the album. I sent a demo recording of one of the songs, an original composition called ‘American Combat Solider’ to Sean Hannity of Fox News. He sent me back an autographed picture and called me a great American.”

Schnell said that the concert at Holy Rosary came about after conversations with Father Robert Quarato, the church’s pastor. Schnell gave Quarato an outline of the show and Quarato gave his blessing for the performance.

Schnell has performed at Holy Rosary before, singing “Two Hearts,” another song from the album.

“I took songs from the album and intertwined them with a drum pattern for a military routine,” Schnell said. “It is a lot of hard work, but I am driven by it and enjoy it.”

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