Q&A with Summit Youth Orchestra leadership
March 21, 2017
In many ways, the four high school seniors on the Summit Youth Orchestra, a collection of musicians ranging in age from middle to high school, make up the backbone of the 17-member ensemble.
They consist of trombonist Sam Hall, Ally Bierbaum on cello, concert master and violinist Skylar Lebow and Ella Reed. During a break in their Sunday rehearsal ahead of their spring concert this weekend, Hall, Bierbaum and Lebow sat down with the Summit Daily News for a Q&A.
In that time, they talked about what they enjoy about making music, their plans after graduation and what the audience might expect from the upcoming performance. Reed was unable to attend the rehearsal. The orchestra will perform at 7 p.m. Sunday at Dillon Community Church.
SDN: Looking at the lineup, I heard you guys practicing some Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen. Tell me about the song selection for this Sunday's performance.
Skylar Lebow: This performance, it's got a fire theme. That's why we have "Ring of Fire" and another song "Firebird" (composed by Igor Stravinsky), and then "Hallelujah" is our senior piece because this is our last semester.
SDN: Have you guys heard any of these songs on the radio before?
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Ally Bierbaum: I know "Hallelujah" pretty well, and the Johnny Cash song I've heard. The other two, I wasn't quite as familiar with.
SDN: Now you three are seniors. How many performances do you have left with the orchestra?
Sam Hall: This is the last performance with this orchestra. We are going to have another concert with the school this May, and that will be the last one. I don't know if either (Ally or Skylar is) doing any kind of senior recital.
AB: I just had my senior recital actually, and I'm doing another one up here in a couple months.
SL: Yeah, I think have mine in May.
SDN: What are your plans after high school?
SH: Well actually I'm going into music education. I haven't decided where I'm going yet. It's either going to be (the University of Colorado Boulder, the University of Denver or the University of Northern Colorado), and so hopefully I'll get to play in all kinds of different bands. I'm excited to hopefully play in a marching band when I'm in college so music is just starting for me.
SL: I'm going to be going to (University of Colorado in Colorado Springs) and I'll be studying finance. I'm not going to keep studying music, but I'm not just going to drop it completely. It's not something you can just give up right way.
AB: I'm going to CU Boulder and I'm going to be studying something in medicine. … I'm hoping to play in the campus orchestra.
SDN: What do you three like so much about playing music?
AB: I just like how diverse it is. I like all art forms in that way. And there's a lot of creativity and you can do a lot of different things with it.
SH: I think my favorite thing about music is the way it can draw emotion. It's like my mission as a musician, whatever the composer wrote down on the page, to do exactly what I need to do to draw the emotion that he's trying to pull from what he wrote.
SDN: So you're looking at it like a script or a blueprint and you have a role that you have to fill?
SL: Music, like the sheet music that you get, is kind of like a baseline, and you have to make it your own and make it real music instead of just notes on a paper.
SH: You can play the notes, but not play the music.
SDN: Let me ask you this: There are a wide range of ages for musicians in this orchestra. Now you three in many ways are the senior leadership. What's it like for you to be somewhat of a role model for these younger musicians?
SH: For sure, but one thing that's great about this orchestra is the people who are here are all dedicated musicians. We're getting a higher level of musicianship from everyone here, even if they're in middle school. I really like that because when you're working with someone — say you're running a sectional or something — you can really dive deep into the nitty-gritty parts of the music, rather than just, "Oh, we got to learn the notes." The notes are already learned and we can focus on the fun stuff.
SDN: The fun stuff seems to be — once you learn the notes — there's an assembly where it all comes together.
AB: It's definitely cool when everything comes together because every person is needed to make it happen.