Young musicians audition for Macon Symphony Youth Orchestra

awomack@macon.comAugust 18, 2013 

Young musicians audition for Macon Symphony Youth Orchestra

Tressa Johnson hugged her nervous daughter as she walked into a band room while carrying her clarinet Sunday afternoon.

The ride to Macon from Warner Robins had been a quiet one for 17-year-old Robiona Johnson and her parents. The high school senior was one of 105 students from more than 25 schools auditioning Saturday and Sunday for the Macon Symphony Youth Orchestra.

“She is so nervous,” said Robert Johnson, Robiona’s father. “I hope she will do well. I know she will do well.”

Sounds of melodies and scales filled the halls of Mercer University’s music building as middle school students and high school students from as far away as Dublin, Griffin and Hawkinsville prepared for their auditions.

Robiona Johnson was one of the first clarinet players to audition Sunday.

The reedy sound of her clarinet filled the recital hall as she played for judges hidden behind an improvised screen of chalkboards. She’s hoping to get a spot in the symphony’s full orchestra for high school students.

Leaving with her parents, Johnson said she was shaking a little during the audition.

Elizabeth Eanes-Fennelly, 12, and Sarah Breitenbach, 11, both of Macon, auditioned for violin slots in the middle school string orchestra for a second year in a row.

Although they said they were nervous last year, the girls were more confident and relaxed this year.

Elizabeth, a seventh-grader at Macon’s Miller Middle School, said she’s been playing since she was about 6 years old. Playing pop music is her favorite.

Sarah, a sixth-grader at Saint Joseph’s Catholic School in Macon, said she started taking lessons at age 4. She really likes to fiddle.

Lisa Breitenbach said the orchestra gives her daughter a chance to play in a group environment; Sarah’s school doesn’t have an orchestra program.

It also teaches social bonding that student musicians can’t learn in private lessons, she said.

Wanda Eanes said music has given her daughter more than just an appreciation for the fine arts.

“Music is the basic foundation for lots of things,” she said, including math and science. “Music is full of fractions.”

Full orchestra conductor Jonathan Baker said musicians chosen for the orchestra’s two groups will practice once a week and play in several concerts throughout the year.

He said it’s his goal to expose the students to music such as selections from Broadway and pieces by both modern and classical composers that they might not ordinarily have on their iPad and iPhone playlists.

“You’re trying to create a real appreciation for some of the great composers,” he said.

To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.

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