A Singing Sabbatical

Emma Castaldi To Take Leave of Absence


Photo credit: Benjamin Kagan

After four school years of non-stop notes, Upper School choir teacher Emma Castaldi is taking a rest, set to return after a 2022-23 sabbatical.

Castaldi said she made the decision for her family because she doesn’t want to miss out on any important childhood experience for both of her children. She values time spent with her son, Francesco, and in July, she is expecting her second child.

“The choir program is a place where we all know each other so well. It’s a place to be vulnerable, and we are taking risks every day, so it really turns into a family itself,” Castaldi said. “I get to see all of you uniquely go through your full high school experience.” 

Junior Daniel Silets has taken choir all through his high school experience, adding Grape Jam and Vocal Studio this year. “She is just really good at making connections with her students and making us feel comfortable doing the uncomfortable task of singing in front of people,” Silets said. 

The school has not yet chosen her long-term sub, though Castaldi has been hosting sample lessons with potential candidates in Grape Jam, and the Student Interview Review Board is in the process of holding interviews. Castaldi and her students are also choosing music for next year, as well as planning for important dates and potential concert themes.

“I’m really sad that she’s not going to be there for my senior year because she started my interest in doing more with choir and got me to join Grape Jam and I feel like it comes full circle senior year, that I won’t get to experience with her,” Silets said. 

Choral and General Music Teacher Rob Denien, who was involved with hiring Castaldi in 2018, agreed with Silets. “Ms. Castaldi made Upper School choir a place to be, a space where students didn’t only get to share the joy of singing together, but also learned and appreciated how to know, trust, and value one another. Each of her ensembles seemed less like a group of students and more like a family.”

“I’m so excited that Ms. Castaldi will be welcoming a new member to her own growing family at home,” Denien said. “While she will be so missed, we all wish her the best during her leave and hope to see her back in action soon.”