CHS students in MCYO and YAA perform in concert at Strathmore


photo courtesy of Daniel Miyares

Students performed in front of a large audience at Strathmore.

By Emily Wang, Circulation Manager

MCYO, All State, All County and YAA; it can be a little confusing for CHS students who do not play an instrument when their musician friends start using their own lingo.

Maryland Classic Youth Orchestra (MCYO) Philharmonic and Young Artists of America (YAA) partnered together to perform Bernstein’s West Side Story and Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette March 8 at Strathmore.

While this was not a school sponsored event, many CHS students performed as CHS instrumental music director Kristofer Sanz is the music director of both organizations. Sanz and his brother, Rolando Sanz, worked together to create YAA, a unique program which specializes in specifically performing opera with high school students and a full orchestra.

“[YAA]’s goal is to create educational and performance opportunities of fully-orchestrated works that are not a part of any existing vocal, orchestral or dance ensemble’s repertoire,” Sanz said.
The concert at Strathmore was a semi-staged and costumed productions, meaning there was acting, singing, costumes, make-up, lighting- essentially everything except sets.

For this performance, YAA singers got the chance to work alongside professional mentors.

“When students play or sing along side professionals it creates a new level of drive and a new level of motivation to try and perform at the same level as the professional musicians,” Sanz said.

This a learning opportunity for YAA members as well as MCYO musicians as the concert mixed the two pieces West Side Story and Romeo et Juliette. This allowed for students to play in both the theater and classical style.

“The two stories paralleled perfectly but they were very different music styles,” junior clarinet player Samantha Locraft said. “It showed how Shakespeare’s tragedy Romeo and Juliet, a story everyone knows, can be delivered in so many very different ways and have such a huge emotional impact.”

Some student musicians were initially skeptical about combining the two pieces.

“I thought mixing the scores was genius by Mr. Sanz, I was skeptical at first but then amazed at how well it blended,” sophomore trombone player Ethan Shrier said.

Aside from the unique mixing of different styles of pieces, playing for MCYO is vastly different than playing for CHS’s orchestra or band.

“[MCYO] only meets once a week so the time spent during rehearsal is a lot more intense since we meet so infrequently,” Sanz said. “The pace is about twice as fast as the pace in the WCHS school orchestras and, because of the extreme talent, the repertoire and expectations are much more demanding for the musicians.”

The students’ hard work paid off; the concert was a huge success.

“I would 100 percent perform a similar concert again,” Shrier said. “That was one of my favorite concerts ever and I had huge amounts of fun playing the music.”