Arts and Entertainment

Four students represent South’s arts in National Orchestra

By Leigh Alon
Published: September 2009

Newton South students have always been widely recognized for their achievements in the arts; this year they are well on their way to continuing the tradition. Seniors Taichi Fukumura and Tanny Kang, junior Daniel Zhang, and sophomore Elliot Seidman have been selected to participate in the National High School Honors Orchestra (NHSHO) out of hundreds who auditioned from across the Unite States and Canada for just 120 spots.

The American String Teacher’s Association will run the event, which will take place in Santa Clara, California from February 6 to February 10. Seidman is among the seven currently in the horn section, while Fukumura, Kang, and Zhang are among the 50 violinists chosen from over 500 who tried out. “I feel quite honored to have been selected and to be able to represent our school, Kang said.

Participants auditioned by sending in a CD of two recordings: a required piece, and three minutes of a piece of their own choice. Zhang was pleased with the format of the audition because recording at home allowed for many “second chances. Nevertheless, the students on average had to practice two to three hours a day preparing the difficult pieces in time for the June 15 audition date.

The conductor of the NHSHO this year is Scott Speck, an acclaimed maestro who has been the Music Director of the West Michigan Symphony for four years, has been invited to the White House as the Music Director of the Washington Ballet, and has recently performed with the Moscow Symphony Orchestra.

Though Speck’s résumé appears daunting, the students have also been acquiring years of experience in their respective instruments. Zhang has been playing the violin for 11 years and is part of the Boston Youth Symphony (BYS), while Fukumura, also part of BYS, has traveled to Germany and the Czech Republic with the group.

The participants of NHSHO are currently practicing Mahler’s Symphony Number 1, which consists of 20-30 pages of very difficult music per part. Violin players, however, have two parts, which translates into about 50 pages that must be learned.

Fukumura, however, has played his part of the piece before with BYS. “I am greatly looking forward to coming back to [Mahler 1] with a different group. Most people seem unhappy though, because it’s a lot of very difficult music, Fukumura said.

Despite all the hard work NHSHO entails, all four students are looking forward to the event as both a rewarding and an educational experience. “I feel very excited and honored to be chosen amongst the many talented musicians that auditioned, Zhang said. “I know that this will be one of the most memorable musical events in my life and I am impatiently looking forward to it.

Kang sees this program as a valuable opportunity for him to meet musicians from all around the country who are just as passionate about music as he is. “I’m ecstatic about making great music with great musicians, he said. Of course, Kang adds that a respite from New England’s characteristically brutal February weather is a welcome bonus.

The non-musical aspects of the program also hold appeal for Fukumura. “These types of experiences help the development of both musicality and character, through¦quite literally anything: the traveling, staying there, lifestyle. Anything builds character, Fukumura said.

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