CITYWIDE — Santa Monica students are invading the Los Angeles Youth Orchestra.
The youth orchestra pulls about 90 kids from 60 public schools for a full-scale orchestra and a handful are from Santa Monica.
The orchestra played Carnegie Hall in New York City last year and are planning a trip to Vienna for next year, but in the meantime they’ll play a little closer to home. On Sunday at 4 p.m. they’ll hold a concert at UCLA’s Schoenberg Hall.
Owen Doyle, a seventh grader at Santa Monica Alternative School House, has been playing trumpet in the orchestra for two years. The youth orchestra is one of the few options in the area for kids who play brass and kids who play strings to perform together.
“It’s definitely different than being in a normal band,” Doyle said. “I’m used to marches but this is more classical. You feel sort of attached to the music. If you’re playing a big march you can just blast it out. When you’re playing with strings you have to be gentle.”
Doyle’s mother, Susan Alinsangan, is always amazed at how he’s able to give up five hours every Sunday for the orchestra.
“It’s an incredible amount of time,” she said. “When he leaves he’s always very reticent. When he comes back, though, he’s always humming. To hear a 12-year-old humming a classical song is really gratifying. Most kids are humming rap songs. I mean, he hums rap songs, too, but to hear him hum classical songs — that’s so great.”
The group is broken up into a chamber orchestra and a concert orchestra. While one group is practicing together the other group gets individualized attention from sectional coaches.
“I think it gives you a completely different depth and helps you understand the different ways that it’s all threaded together,” said Barbara VanArsdell, whose daughter Grace Alexander plays violin and is a student at Lincoln Middle School. “It’s the richer experience. There are a lot of pieces you cannot play without horns.”
VanArsdell said that Grace has improved greatly during her three years in the orchestra.
“It puts her around other kids who are really interested in music,” she said. “It’s hard to find at school. When she’s around other kids at the orchestra she’s so much more fascinated in music and wants to do it.”
She, and several others musicians and parents, lauded Orchestra Director Russell Steinberg.
“He always gives us background knowledge about different pieces,” said Kanoa Ichiyangi, a violinist and student at Santa Monica Alternative School House. “We learn a little bit of history sometimes.”
Mica Nafshun-Bone, a violinist and junior at New Roads High School, says that at first she doesn’t look forward to going to practice but that afterward she always feels great. She wants to continue her musical career but she’s not sure in what area. Her highlight was playing at Carnegie Hall.
“I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I honestly felt like I was dreaming when I was on that stage.”
For more information on the orchestra, go to losangelesyouthorchestra.org or call (310) 206-3033.