Written by: Anna Qin
Playing music is no easy task, especially when traveling halfway around the world to do it. With luggage in one hand and instrument in the other, seniors Tim Aiken, Blaze Lee, Curran Sinha, junior Isabella Costanza, sophomore Lawrence Chen and alumnus ’12 Kabir Gill traveled to New Zealand along with 106 members of the California Youth Symphony (CYS) this summer, performing a total of five concerts.
For Sinha, the trip was a chance to test out perfoming and traveling as a professional. “We had to deal with carrying all the equipment and having a concert every other day,” he said.
A grueling 13-hour flight led the musical group to Auckland, New Zealand, where they put on their first performance just two days after arrival. Even though the trip was mandatory for all CYS musicians, many were excited nonetheless at the prospect of exploring and performing music in another country. “I was excited to go to New Zealand, because of its beautiful scenery and for the chance to play for a foreign audience,” Lee said.
And perform for the New Zealand audiences they did, but not without showing some American flare first. To celebrate the Fourth of July, CYS welcomed the United States Ambassador to New Zealand with a concert, creating some of the musicians’ favorite memories. “My favorite musical memory was basically sight-reading Stars and Stripes for our July 4th concert,” Sinha said.
In addition to the patriotic repertoire, CYS also performed works by Ravel, Copland, Tchaïkowsky and Strauss.
The most important aspect of the trip, was the music exchange at the end. From Auckland to Rotorua, and then to Christchurch City, CYS had the opportunity to perform music with local, indigenous cultures such as the Maori and also with local youth orchestras and music groups.
“One thing that I really loved about playing with the [music groups] was seeing all the things we had in common,” Lee said. “It’s easy for us to point out the differences in our cultures, but inside, we’re all just young people discovering ourselves through music.”
While, according to Sinha, there were difficulties in communication and in practice, he feels that the different orchestras were able to overcome their differences and put together a solid performance.
“The New Zealand group was much smaller,” he said. “The performances were a little [difficult] because [there were] just so many people playing at once, but overall it went well. Music is universal, so it wasn’t too hard to play together.”
Playing with the various different groups left similar impressions on other musicians, including Costanza. She described the experiance of playing with the quotation, “music is the universal language of mankind.”
“Music really ties us all together, as cheesy as that sounds,” she said, remarking at the cliché. “But it was amazing for me how I could relate to people I had never met before through the simple act of playing my violin. Even though we did not always understand each other when we were having conversations, whenever we rehearsed, there was never any misunderstanding about where to start or what people’s musical ideas were.”
That’s not to say though that the musicians didn’t indulge in activities outside of music. From Nintendo DS gaming sessions to swimming, to hanging out with friends and even experiencing a mini-earthquake, the trip was a chance to relax and create new, strong friendships for many. “I made a lot of friendships and connections that I hope will last as I continue being a musician,” Costanza said.