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Summit High School sophomore chosen to perform clarinet in Austria

Luke Kneller joins 200 students out of 10,000 applicants

Summit High School sophomore Luke Kneller will perform in Vienna, Austria, in August. The event, hosted by WorldStrides’ Honors Performance Series, features 200 students out of 10,000 applicants.
Rene Kneller/Courtesy photo

Luke Kneller has been playing the clarinet for only five years, but he has already proved himself to be a talented performer. The Summit High School sophomore made it to the Colorado University honor band in 2020 and the Northwest Colorado Music Educators high school honor band in 2021. Now, he is preparing for a concert at the Musikverein in Vienna, Austria, put on by WorldStrides’ Honors Performance Series.

Kneller will join 200 performers from the United States, China, Canada and Qatar for the special event. The series annually showcases accomplished high school students at acclaimed venues such as Carnegie Hall in New York, Sydney Opera House in Australia and the Royal Festival Hall in London. Kneller was originally supposed to perform in Sydney, but the location was changed to Vienna due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 16-year-old Summit Cove resident first became interested in the clarinet during an elementary school assembly. He saw the instrument played by an orchestra, liked its unique sound and then picked it to learn for his school music elective.



Kneller listens to a variety of bands, such as Queen and Coldplay, as well as modern composers like John Williams. He also naturally enjoys classical music from names such as Mozart and Beethoven. Kneller doesn’t have any real favorites, but he appreciates the slower, melodic pieces that have strong compositional depth and a rich story behind them.

“It’s very soothing, and there’s so many different types of classical music and styles,” Kneller said. “There’s a lot of different ways to interpret the music and play it.”



Nominated by his high school band teacher Karen Bautista, Kneller performed for the audition tape in October. Every audition is the same assigned exercise to compare, but he also used the allotted five minutes to play the traditional “Clarinet Polka” arranged by Herman Hummel.

In December, he found out he was picked out of the 10,000 entries. It came as a surprise, since he only had five days to prepare due to the late nomination instead of months others may have had.

“I was a bit shocked,” Kneller said. “At first, I didn’t believe it. It’s pretty neat.”

He performed the same “Clarinet Polka” for the Colorado High School Activities Association statewide solo and ensemble competitions last year and the year before, receiving excellent to superior scores.

“It’s a very challenging piece, and it’s very technical, as well,” Kneller said. “It takes a lot of work.”

Kneller will find out what he’ll play in the Honors Performance Series woodwind ensemble roughly six weeks beforehand. The six-day trip includes instruction from world-renowned conductors, seeing Mozart’s home in Salzburg and more. Though he has traveled internationally before, it will be Kneller’s first time in Europe.

The performance will take place Aug. 1 and is open to the public. Tickets can be purchased beginning 60 days before the performance through the Musikverein box office.

The Kneller family has set up a fundraiser at GoFund.me/da9db492 to help pay for travel expenses, fees and tuition. The goal is to raise $5,500 by early spring.

In the meantime, Kneller will perform in the Colorado University honor band again in February.


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