3 musicians from Coronado High judged best for their instruments in Colorado
If playing a musical instrument were a sport, the Coronado High Orchestra would have had three state champions this year.
In auditions for the roughly 150-member All-State Orchestra, Cougars McKay Harline on violin, Vaselka Kuzma on cello and Colin Oldberg on trumpet were each ranked the best for their instruments.
Harline has additionally been selected for the national orchestra, which played in Reno, Nev. At All-State, he had the honor of concert master, meaning that in the Feb. 12 concert at Colorado University he led all the string instruments. “A number of orchestra directors around the state said he was the best concert master in years,” said Coronado orchestra director Dan Mayes.
In addition, Harline made All-State choir as the piano accompanist, while Oldberg earned lead trumpet honors for the All-State jazz band.
The threesome were joined at All-State by four of their classmates - Abbey Klein, Aubrey Yeh, Lydia Demi-Smith and Rhonda Wilkinson.
Two other members of the Coronado orchestra might also have earned All-State honors had they chosen to audition, Mayes said.
Asked for the reasons behind this year's orchestra successes, Mayes said it helps that the “entire music program at Coronado is very strong.” It's not unusual for talented high school musicians to permit in to the school, he added.
The start of excellence with Coronado's orchestra goes back to a director named Heidi Bream 8 to 10 years ago, he said. However, for several years after she left no director stayed for very long. “It still had the tradition of being a good orchestra, but if you don't have the same person for a while, it makes a big difference,” Mayes explained.
Having been director at Coronado now for three years, he believes his continuity is helping the students, he said.
In an interview with the Westside Pioneer, Harline, Kuzma and Oldberg talked about how they got started and what their aspirations are.
Each of the three started young and is taking private lessons now. In the summer after fifth grade, Kuzma said her mother “forced me to play the cello” (as a result of always liking the instrument herself). “I was sad,” Kuzma said, “but after a while I wouldn't play anything else.”
Harline started piano at age 6, then picked up violin in the fourth grade. He said it was hard at first. What got him over the hump was hearing famous classical composer Felix Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E Minor and deciding he liked it so well he wanted to play it. By the time he could, he had fallen “in love” with the instrument, he said.
Oldberg, too, tried violin in the fourth grade, “but I didn't like it,” he said, adding with a good-natured nod at Harline, “No offense.” In the fifth grade he and a friend discovered the trumpet. “I loved it. It was loud and we were obnoxious kids,” he chuckled.
Harline and Oldberg, both seniors, hope to have musical careers. Harline will attend Brigham Young University, majoring in piano performance. Oldberg has been accepted at several universities, though he has yet to make a choice. He said he is looking for the right balance between his two playing interests - orchestra and jazz.
Kuzma, a junior, also aspires for a musical life, “maybe a professor or a performer or both.” What she thinks would really be fun is playing in a professional quartet (which also includes two violinists and a viola). “I love the vast variety of the repertoire and how they sound together,” she said.
Westside Pioneer article