Meet Three MYSO Tour Musicians

by Erica Mendoza

We‘re excited to introduce you to three members of the 2023 Belgium and The Netherlands Tour Orchestra.

Senior Symphony percussionist Daniel Grady had no idea he would enjoy composing music until he applied for the John Downey Creation Project. Daniel first heard about the opportunity when he saw that one of his fellow orchestra members had written a piece through the Project. Daniel applied for it without expecting to get in but was elated when he was accepted to write a composition for the Wind Ensemble. He then enrolled in MYSO‘s advanced music theory class to learn more. For the first couple of months, he had ideas bouncing around in his head and wrote down some basic themes on the piano. In the last two months, he realized he had to “orchestrate the piece but did not know how. Some areas were clicking, but others were not.” With support and encouragement from his composition teaching artist, Ron Foster, referencing some books, and pulling a couple of all-nighters, he was able to finish his piece, Reverence. It had its world premiere by the Wind Ensemble on May 20, and later was performed at his school by a small ensemble conducted by Daniel. “Even though during the process it was a little strenuous and I had doubts of successfully going through with it, in the end, it was a really rewarding experience and made me realize I want to continue doing compositions.” Daniel will be attending Liberty University this fall on a full scholarship, pursuing film scoring and percussion performance.

Rem Leach is a rising senior at Milwaukee High School of the Arts and a violist in the Senior Symphony. As a child, Rem was always interested in music, but it wasn’t until her second-grade teacher nominated her to join Progressions that she found the joy of playing the viola. For Rem, playing the viola has taught her many skills and values, such as discipline, teamwork, creativity, and self-expression. Rem says that she has a “very funny relationship” with performance anxiety. She overcomes her anxiety by focusing on the music and receives support from her fellow musicians and teachers, who help improve her skills and confidence.

Being in MYSO has opened a passion for music for her and she has looked forward to going on tour ever since she heard about it. Rem is motivated to go on tour this summer to Belgium and the Netherlands because it is a “grand opportunity” to play music with other talented musicians, travel outside of the US for the first time, and learn about a different culture from her own. She credits the help of her mother and the community for helping her to fundraise most of her tour expenses by selling 3,504 chocolate bars! As she prepares for her senior year, she is excited to expand her musical repertoire by taking AP music theory, exploring compositional work, and learning how to play the saxophone.

Rem will be blogging her tour experience this summer, so stay tuned for her updates!

Music has always been a part of Isabella “Ella” McGinley‘s life. Despite not coming from a musical background, “her parents have raised her to be competitive, without being toxic.” She started off with viola in fourth grade, then moving onto clarinet in fifth grade. But it was the bass that captured her heart when she watched a video of a bass soloist from the London Symphony Orchestra and heard its deep and rich sound. She learned to play the bass with the help of MSO bassist Laura Synder, who encouraged her and inspired her to continue pursuing music. Since sixth grade, Ella has auditioned into the Wisconsin School Music Association (WSMA) Honors Project orchestras. Ella loves participating in these programs because she likes the challenge and continues to prove her musicianship. During the pandemic, her school was short on violists, and Ella stepped up. This is Ella: someone who is not afraid to step-up, loves a challenge, maintains a positive outlook, and is willing to get out of her comfort zone. She will be attending UW-Eau Claire, on a scholarship for bass performance and music education. Ella’s advice for her musician peers is to “make failure a part of their journey.” She says, “don’t fret if you don’t get a part or if you don’t make the audition; it does not define you as a musician.”

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