Special for the Swellesley Report Courtesy of Wellesley High School Bradford and Parents of Pupils Performers (POPS). This is part of a series of senior POPS profiles that we will be posting.
Blazing horns and saxophones complement the abundance of wind instruments playing a rendition of “Seven Nation Army” during Wellesley High School home football games as part of the high school Pep Band’s role in generating excitement. enthusiasm in the crowd. This piece, now part of the routine repertoire, was arranged by Wellesley High School Class of 2022 member Timothy Bonis.
“A few years ago we thought we could use a new song for the Pep Band for football games, and it ended up sticking. Hopefully long after I’m gone it will still be a legacy to play. every football game,” Bonis said.
Bonis, an exemplary young musician, is an integral part of the high school wind ensemble and acts as a positive role model for other budding students.
Bonis’ musical career began eight years ago when he fell in love with the flute. After listening to “The Aviary” by Animal Carnival when he was seven years old, the flute solo particularly marked him. Two years ago he decided to pursue the piccolo and now plays both instruments. Influenced by his broad musical background, Bonis was destined to become a multi-instrumentalist.
“I’ve always been part of a very musical family. My grandfather was president of the Boston Opera Company and my grandfather was on the board of directors of the Boston Civic Symphony. It was almost a foregone conclusion that I would play an instrument later,” Bonis said.
Through his family’s musical ties, he met his current instructor outside of school, Ellen Bender. Bender’s husband wrote an opera that premiered at the Boston Opera Company when Bonis’ grandfather was president.
In addition to his independent music practice, Bonis is heavily involved in Wellesley School music programs. In college, Bonis joined the school band and continued to practice under Henry Platt. Bonis not only admired his teacher, but also looked to famous musicians Emmanuel Pahud and Marcel Moyse for inspiration. Bonis often listened to their recordings, trying to imitate their skills and music.
Now in high school, Bonis is first chair in flute and second chair in piccolo. While the high school used to give a musical performance every month or two, the performances have stopped since the start of the pandemic. Bonis misses the satisfying feeling of playing for people and remembers his old gigs.
“During a recital where I performed ‘Méditation’ from the opera Thais by Jules Massenet, I played it with a coolness and technique that my teacher and my family did not expect, which was one of my proudest moments,” said Bonis.
It hasn’t always been a perfect road for Bonis; all musicians have their moments. Bonis points out that part of learning and growing is remembering mistakes made along the way.
“In fifth grade, I had a disaster concert,” says Bonis, “I was playing Gabriel Fauré’s ‘Sicilienne’, and I completely ruined it. I was a fairly new player at the time and not really good either. I chose a piece that was reasonably hard and above my level. It opened very slowly and it was a sweet room. I ended up breaking every note and even after trying to restart it didn’t work. I remember putting down my flute and running off the stage.
Bonis wants young students to understand that moments like these don’t define a player, but rather make them stronger.
“Mistakes are part of learning to perform. No matter how much you practice, you may never know how to perform in front of a crowd. When you have a moment like this, it teaches you a lot about how to get back up after a fall.
Bonis’ skill comes from his rigorous training schedule. Throughout high school, he trained for about 45 minutes to an hour a day. Even during the fall of his eventful senior year, Bonis continued to pay attention to his instrument. Convinced that individual practice is essential to becoming a successful player, he views the community aspect of music with affection.
“It can be really nice to play alone,” Bonis said, “but when you can walk into a section and play with people who also understand your instrument, you can talk about the performances, the pieces, and the repertoire. The Experience school-wide social is something I look forward to.
Additionally, Bonis credits Wind Ensemble bandleader Steven Scott with helping him learn and improve as a musician. Scott reciprocated that mutual admiration and gushed over Bonis’ presence in the ensemble, with his unique combinations of fun and focus greatly uplifting his peers.
“Tim’s strong musicianship coupled with his fun and focused demeanor make him a real asset to the ensemble,” Scott said. “Tim…[leads] by a strong example. He is still working on his flute parts outside of class and brings great preparation to our work together,” Scott said.
Peers around Bonis also remember her positive attitude and remarkable hard work in Wind Ensemble. Senior Eleni Livingston, who has been friends with Bonis since their time at Fiske Elementary School, remembers Bonis’ attentive and enthusiastic presence in class.
“Tim is one of the most thoughtful people I know,” Livingston said. “He is always ready to help his section comrades. He has an incredible musical ear and is able to identify things that need improvement very quickly. Its social nature always brings the class community together and encourages young students to step out of their comfort zone in both music and study.
Bonis also has various accomplishments and interests beyond music. As an officer of the high school National Honor Society, he organized a fundraiser for the sale of pies during Thanksgiving, combining his passion for baking with his contribution to the community at large.
“I am a very passionate baker. I’m particularly interested in a type of Hungarian pastry,” said Bonis, whose grandfather emigrated from Hungary.
Bonis has many plans for the future, both in terms of her college life after high school and her growing musical interest.
“I hope to continue playing in college even if it’s for personal enjoyment. Balancing academics and music is something I know well. Music has been such a fundamental part of my life, and I can’t imagine a future without it,” Bonis said.
Article written by WHS Bradford staff: Iris Xia ’22 and William Liu ’22.