By this time, I felt pretty comfortable with the cello and made some good friends through playing. However, the next year I would be starting high school and the auditions are harder and require more preparation. There were two high school groups at the time, the Albuquerque Youth Orchestra (AYO), and the cream of the crop, the Albuquerque Youth Symphony (AYS). I really didn't have a chance of making it into AYS that year, so I was pretty content landing a spot in AYO. My good friend Bethany who played the harp and grew up in the same ward as me got a spot as well, so I wasn't going in having to make new friends (all the friends I had were younger than me). Of course, I made new awesome friends, like Katie, Kristin, Alex, and Taylor. Katie took lessons from Pamela as well and the last three played in the same high school orchestra as me. I really enjoyed AYO. The conductor, Ms. Siverson, was an extraordinary trumpet player and picked pretty cool pieces. The years sort of blend together, but I remember playing Mars, Schubert's unfinished symphony, the Carmen Suite, and Night on Bald Mountain. This year AYO got to tour along with AYS, which hardly happened, and got to go to AZ. Lots of embarrassing stories on this trip, including having to dig through the McDonald's trash and cuddling with a stranger at night (we had to share beds...I was asleep when this happened). I had a lot of fun in the school orchestra as well. I believe I started piano lessons back up this year, and although I was progressing a little on the piano, cello was my main instrument by far!
I made AYO again my sophomore year, but since I must have done so well in the auditions (haha) they allowed me to play a solo at Hummingbird Music Camp. Although some of the friends I made that year moved up to AYS, I still had lots of friends. Bethany, although I'm sure outshone the AYS harpists in talent, was still there with me, along with a girl named Samantha who played bass and was in our ward. Can I just say we were an awesome trio. Johnny, although an excellent player, was in AYO as well (he played a solo at camp, too). A few words about Johnny: his family migrated from China when he was young. He has always been an amazing friend to me and I'm so glad I got to meet him. I'm positive he's going to be famous one day with how well he plays the cello :) What's funny is that when I played my solo, the cellists in sectional were impressed, if I say so myself, but then the next night Johnny played, and well, we all knew who was guaranteed a spot in AYS next year. The tour that year was in Pagosa Springs and since I vacation there all the time, it was fun to travel there with friends. In school orchestra I met one of my best friends in high school, a guy named Aaron. He was a cellist in AYS and a year ahead of me. He and all my other friends who were in AYS and a year ahead were one of the reasons I wanted to make AYS so badly the next year (that and there was a huge possibility of an international tour). It would be their senior year and I wouldn't have another opportunity like that. It was going to be a tough audition, though. Only four cellists would be graduating high school that year, so that meant only four slots were "available" (those who made it in still had to audition, but they already made it in once, twice, or even three times--Quinn Boyack--) There were really talented cellists in AYO that I didn't know if I could beat. I practiced really hard, by golly, but I didn't know if it would be enough.
Bethany, me, and Samantha in Pagosa Springs, CO
Bethany and me
Pamela's AYS students: me, Johnny and Katie
This was the first time I would be leaving the US, who knew it would be so far away? There was an incident last year's tour with the cellos and airplanes. Let's just say, out of the 12 cellos that travelled on the airplane, only 4 came home undamaged. Holes punched through, scrolls ripped off...you get the idea. So R & S made their very generous donation of letting us use their special cello cases intended for travel (a lot safer). Then when they got them back, they were selling them for a discounted price since they were used on this trip. What an amazing gift to us! Traveling with a cello was interesting. We had the biggest instruments to travel with since the venues there would supply harps and basses. Along with our luggage, it was intense...but also a blast. We got the special treatment of flying directly to LA because of our instruments while the other musicians had to deal with layovers. So we got to spend time in LA and play on the beach while waiting for everyone else. The flight there was long, but I got to sit next to people I liked, so that's always a plus, right? After landing and spending time in New Zealand we finally made it to our destination. We were going to spend time with host families, but this year had the big H1N1 scare, so it had to be done away with. That meant staying in hotels which meant the trip ended up costing a lot more than anticipated, but AYS took the hit, not the musicians. So generous of them! Over the course of the trip we played 4(?) concerts, spent time in a wildlife park, held koalas, petted kangaroos and emus, got pooped on by Lorikeets, ate Australian BBQ, travelled all day on the bus, enjoyed an Australian ranch and throwing boomerangs, souvenir shopping, hiking, amusement park, aquarium, cruise, and last playing in the Sydney Opera house for our final concert (full house and all). I couldn't tell you how much it meant to me. A special thank you to my amazing parents who always encouraged me, Pamela for instilling her knowledge in me, the AYS program who gave this opportunity, and my friends who always make it more enjoyable.
Back: Kira, Nicole, Alex, Aaron, Kristin Front: Jason, Amberle, John, and me
Before our first concert
Whole group (I'm in the front with the plaid burgundy jacket)