Sophomore Sarina Rye practices for Sacramento Youth Symphony in the Music Room. (Photo by Elise Sommerhaug)

Five high schoolers expand music prowess via Sacramento Youth Symphony

From Star Wars to D-minor music by Bach, junior Bill Tsui and sophomores Ming Zhu, Sarina Rye, Elise Sommerhaug and Allie Bogetich participate in Sacramento Youth Symphony, a program for musically talented students.

Zhu plays the clarinet, Tsui the flute, Bogetich percussion and Rye and Sommerhaug the violin.

Bogetich and Tsui learned about Sacramento Youth Symphony from band teacher Bob Ratcliff because they wanted more experience. Rye and Sommerhaug learned about Youth Symphony from middle school classmates and decided to do it to stay in touch.

After auditioning in May, students were divided into groups according to skill level, Zhu said. The lowest groups are Prelude Strings and Vivace Strings. The intermediate groups are Classic Orchestra and Academic String Orchestra. The most advanced groups are Symphonic Wind Ensemble and Premier Orchestra.

“Even if you were part of Youth Symphony last year, you still have to try out every year to make it fair,” Zhu said. “You can try out for a higher level if you want.

“Usually in tryouts, we have to perform two different scales to see our range and multiple pieces to show our skill.”

Practices are held at Rosemont High School (9594 Kiefer Blvd.), only 15 minutes away from Country Day. Tsui said he lives far away from school, so it takes his mother 45 minutes one way.

Zhu has been a part of Youth Symphony for five years. Rye, Sommerhaug and Bogetich have been with Youth Symphony for two years, and this is Tsui’s first year.  

Rye, Sommerhaug and Tsui are part of Classic, Zhu is in Premier, and Bogetich is in Symphonic.

Bogetich said she was originally part of Premier but didn’t have many parts. She switched to Symphonic because she liked the type of music more and could learn more instruments.

According to Rye, each group practices once a week on Tuesdays or Thursdays, and the times depend on the group. If the group is advanced, the practices are longer.  

According to the Sacramento Youth Symphony website, Prelude meets on Tuesdays from 5:45 to 7 p.m., Vivace rehearses from 7:15 to 8:45 p.m. on Tuesdays, Classic practices on Tuesdays from  7:15 to 8:45 p.m., Premier meets from 7 to 9:30 p.m. on Thursdays, Academic rehearses on Thursdays from 7 to 9:15 p.m, and Symphonic practices from 7 to 9 p.m. on Thursdays.

Tsui said he wants to change the timing of practices.

“On Tuesdays, it gets hectic because I end up getting home at 10 from practice,” Tsui said. “When I have a test in an AP class the next day, I barely get any sleep because I am up late studying,” Tsui said. “But I’m so glad I go because I realize that I need the break.”

Zhu shared a memorable moment during his practice.

“We like to make insulting jokes about other instruments for fun,” Zhu said. “At the end, the entire orchestra somehow ends up targeting the viola section.”

Tsui and Rye added that the snacks at practices were another reason to go.

Sommerhaug said Youth Symphony performs four concerts throughout the year, including a final performance in May. Classic has performed many songs from popular movies, including “Star Wars,” Sommerhaug’s favorite. The groups play about eight songs per concert.

Tsui said Youth Symphony gives him a different environment to play in than school.

“Youth Symphony gives me different experience because the high school band is smaller and does not include string instruments,” Tsui said. “We practice harder pieces.”

Bogetich added that she enjoys playing percussion instruments unavailable at Country Day.

“They have four timpani, marimba and vibraphone, which are not at school,” Bogetich said. “I get to be exposed to a lot of different things and learn more instruments.”

All five Country Day students said they want to continue with Youth Symphony next year.

—By Sanjana Anand

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