The Port Townsend High School Symphony was treated to the trip of a lifetime in sunny Los Angeles, California as the students earned two “gold” rating awards and visited multiple musical …
The Port Townsend High School Symphony was treated to the trip of a lifetime in sunny Los Angeles, California as the students earned two “gold” rating awards and visited multiple musical spots around the city.
Heading out of SeaTac International Airport on March 29, the youth symphony’s spring break excursion totaled six days and was packed full of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for the student-musicians.
Whether it was attending an LA Philharmonic performance or rehearsing at the esteemed University of Southern California (USC) Trojan Band’s campus center, the high schoolers enjoyed wide range of fun and educational activities.
On the first full day, students collaborated with the Monrovia High School music program, led by world-renowned composer Soon Hee Newbold. She not only conducted her own works with the students, but also answered questions about her time composing for orchestra, TV and film, and music production in Hollywood.
“It was amazing to work with Soon Hee Newbold after playing her music for so many years,” said Port Townsend junior Sylvia Butterfield. “She offered a fascinating new perspective on the pieces and made the playing experience so much more powerful.”
On Friday, the students attended a performance of the LA Philharmonic, one of the America’s most premier symphony orchestras.
The teens were treated to a Tchaikovsky violin concerto by young violin virtuoso Randall Goosby. As a rising star in the classical world at age 27, Goosby is an inspiration to young, budding musicians around the world.
“Listening to Randall Goosby play was mesmerizing,” said junior Tadelech Dollarhide. “His solos were outstanding and he rightly deserved the ovations he received; he is an inspiring musician.”
As an extra treat, Goosby actually came out after his performance to meet the Port Townsend High students and posed for a selfie, which he later posted on his Instagram account.
The student-musicians also toured downtown Los Angeles for the rest of the day. Next, the high-schoolers had the unique opportunity to have an exclusive rehearsal in the home of the USC Trojan Band at the newly renovated Lyon Center on campus.
Jacobo Herrera, the 300-member Trojan Marching Band’s drum major, welcomed the students personally and taught them some of the band’s chants, adding to the fun. Students then worked with graduate conducting student Adam Karelin, who was valedictorian for USC’s graduating class of 2019.
On Saturday, the teens traveled to Fullerton College to participate in the Forum Music Festival of Southern California along with more than 30 other schools.
The event was held in the campus theater where the Port Townsend High Symphony performed “Danzon No. 2” by Mexican composer Arturio Marquez.
Following their performance, the Port Townsend High Chamber Ensemble performed “Adoriation” by Florence Price — a famed African-American composer from the early 20th century — along with “Triptyque” by Japanese composer Yasushi Akutagawa.
Judges awarded both ensembles a gold rating, the highest possible accolade for the event.
“I am so proud of the students’ accomplishments, they really worked hard for this event and they really deserved this,” said Daniel Ferland, music director for Port Townsend High.
“I was so happy to hear we received gold ratings in our competition; our whole symphony worked so hard,” senior Adeline Gellert DePalma said. “It was so rewarding to see the judges also noticed our dedication.”
Beyond just the gold ratings, two local students were singled out for their outstanding individual performances.
Senior violin concertmaster Juniper Cervenka, and freshman bassist Sage Brotherton each received high distinction for their musicianship, along with awards.
On the final day of the Spring Break trip, the students left the instruments back for a pure fun day in the SoCal sunshine at Knott’s Berry Farm, an amusement park near Anaheim.
“I’m so happy I got to finally go to L.A. with my high school orchestra. But after three years it was so worth the wait … besides playing music with my friends,” said senior Camryn Hines. “The coolest thing was just riding roller coasters over and over again at Knott’s Berry Farms!”
The Los Angeles trip was originally planned for 2020, but had to be canceled due to the COVID-19 lockdowns. The Port Townsend Music Boosters have been working on this trip for almost a year, fundraising and planning for the students. They have worked tirelessly with many community organizations and individuals to make this trip a success for everyone involved.
“It was powerful to see the students perform again and again with such determination and skill … at the students’ final performance, I witnessed adults in the audience with their mouth agape,” said Tanya Barnett, a chaperone parent.