VYO Senior Spotlight!

Nathan Bamberger, horn
Champlain Valley Union High School
Joined VYOA in 2013
VYPhilharmonia – 1 year
VYO – 2 years

What do you love about playing your instrument?
The reason I love playing the horn is because of its versatility. It contains such a wide array of colors and dynamics, and the four octave range is nothing to sneeze at either. As a player you have to have knowledge of how to sound like a brass instrument, a woodwind instrument, and at times a string instrument, jumping in between whenever the moment calls for it. The timbre of the horn allows you to be not only loud and brassy, such as with the Infernal Dance from Stravinsky’s The Firebird Suite, but also smooth and elegant, such as with Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, and also heroic and bold, as with Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben. Knowing how to walk the fine line of these sounds is what makes the horn so amazing to play, constantly shifting the character of your playing to either support or lead sections. You really are the glue that holds the orchestra together, blending the distinct sounds of the three major sections, while also containing enough unique characteristics to have your part stand out.

What has been the most memorable experience you’ve had with VYO?
The most memorable experience I have had with VYO was playing the first and last movements of Borodin’s Symphony No. 2 on our tour of Iceland. At that point I was still in VYP, so being invited to go on the trip was such a huge honor. The first time I saw VYO in concert was during the 2014 OrchestraChorusPalooza concert, where they played the full symphony. I remember thinking that they sounded amazing, and that there was no way I could sound like that. When I found out that I was invited on the tour, and that we would be playing that specific piece, it was a full circle moment for me.

What would you like to change about the classical music world?
If there could be one thing I would change about the classical music world, it would be to make it more diverse. When we talk about the history of classical music, we are almost strictly talking about old white guys, the remnants of that we are still seeing today. Minority groups have so many unique stories to express not only through the music of the great classical composers, but through works of their own. I hope to see someday that a woman conducting a major orchestra isn’t seen as revolutionary, it’s the norm. I hope to see black and latinx musicians get equal opportunities to bear their souls through this great artform. A diverse world means a greater collection of ideas, where we can pull from more experiences and create more interesting music. That is what I hope for in the future of this great artform.

What was your biggest musical breakthrough?
For me, my greatest musical breakthrough was being accepted into Carnegie Hall’s NYO2 program. Coming from Vermont you don’t really get a lot of experiences when it comes to classical music, beside VYO and Allstate. It’s almost like you’re trapped in a musical bubble, without much exposure to the outside world. NYO2 showed me that my level of playing was better than I thought it was, and it gave me the confidence to keep pushing myself beyond what I thought was possible. It exposed me to people who were just as driven and passionate as I was, and gave me a group of friends who help me achieve my highest musical ability. It helped me understand how a professional orchestra runs, and how hard one has to work to get there. The connections I made gave me a greater understanding of my abilities, and how to work with people to make truly exceptional music.

What is the greatest musical challenge you have ever faced?
Without a doubt, soloing with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra. It was the first solo I’d ever performed, so I was going into unknown territory. Also, in being asked to perform instead of audition, I felt the pressure of the VSO assuming I was good enough to perform with them, instead of actually earning the opportunity. I was up until midnight and a couple occasions trying to make sure that the more technical passages of the concerto were together and clean, but sometimes it felt that whenever I made a step forward, I took two steps back the next day. I was mentally exhausting, the pressure I had put on myself was hard to deal with sometimes, but when I got onstage during our first rehearsal I felt completely comfortable. That experience taught me that sometimes it’s better to let go than to drill a passage for hours on end. The great thing about live performance is the spontaneity of it, the reality that anything could happen at any time. It’s good to just let things happen every once in a while.

If you could perform with any musician, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
If I could perform with any musician, it would be a five way tie between Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Richard Strauss, Richard Wagner, and Gustav Mahler. I know that’s a lot of people, but they were all so titular in the making of how the horn was played/written for. The five of them created revolutionary pieces that expanded the boundaries of the instrument, many of which (to my joy and dread) are played as orchestral excerpts in auditions. Pieces like Götterdämmerung, Don Juan, Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, Das Rheingold, Mahler Symphonies No. 1 and 5, Beethoven Symphonies No. 3 and 9, and Mozart’s four horn concertos completely revolutionized the technicality and flexibility that is called for by modern players. To be able to work with these visionaries directly would be the joy of a lifetime.

What do you plan to do after graduation?
I plan to major in orchestral french horn performance, and hopefully land a spot in a professional orchestra after I graduate college. Playing horn is my passion, and even though I haven’t been playing for that long, I feel as though I cannot do anything else. For me it’s not whether or not I want to major in music, it’s a need to major in music. Classical music has taken me so far beyond anything I could have imagined, helping me leave the sometimes confined space that is the Green Mountains, and I hope to be able to play my instrument for as long as humanly possible.

VYO Senior Spotlight

Rachel Schwartz, trumpet
Harwood Union High School
Joined VYOA in 2016
VYO – 1 year
What do you love about playing your instrument?
The trumpet is really a loud and proud instrument. That’s what my personality is like, and I get to express that in a lot of the music we play. But it can also be surprisingly soft and gentle and supporting, and I try really hard to make sure I keep in touch with that side of myself too. The trumpet really represents who I am and I love that.

What has been the most inspiring or memorable piece that you performed with VYO?
Most memorable, the Colgrass Timpani Concerto. The trumpet part was absolutely nuts and we worked really hard on it. In the end, we did great, but it was a lot of effort.

What do you love about being in an orchestra?
I don’t often get an opportunity to play music that involves strings because Harwood doesn’t have any, so I’m getting the chance to play music otherwise unavailable to me. It’s also great as a composer because I’ve learned a lot about what other instruments like oboes and bassoons (which we also don’t have) can do.

What would you like to change about the classical music world?
The idea that it’s boring. When I first took music theory my freshman year, I was one of those people who believed that I didn’t like classical music simply because I’d only been exposed to the really common stuff. Through that class I found one of my favorite pieces (Schubert’s Erlkonig) and began to appreciate it more.

What other sports/groups/activities are you involved in?
I am head carpenter for the Harwood Stage Crew and I’ve helped build sets for four productions. I’m also in our school’s Queer Straight Alliance where we help support each other and affect change in our school.

If you could perform with any musician, living or dead, who would it be & why?
Oh my gosh, that’s so hard. I’m not sure I could really pick just one, but for the sake of this question I’m going to say Freddie Mercury. He was so unabashedly loud and proud, and he never let anyone tell him what to do or who to be. I’ve grown up listening to a lot of classic rock, and Queen was always towards the top of my favorites list.

What are your plans after graduation?
After graduation I plan on majoring in music, although I’m not sure of the exact path I want to take. I’m leaning towards sound design and music technology/production, but I still don’t know for sure. I’m also considering a minor in theater tech; I love the kind of stuff we do for the Stage Crew and it’s really been an amazing experience.

February e-Newsletter: Announcing Summer Symphony Camp!

2017 Symphony Camp Web Banner

We’re excited to announce a brand new summer music experience, Summer Symphony Camp! Also in our February e-news are details about the upcoming Spring Rug Concert for children ages 5 & under and how to contribute to our Online Auction. Read about the VYOA’s performance at the Vermont State House.  Click here to check out our February e-Newsletter.

VYO Senior Spotlight!

Here are 2 more members of our VYO Senior Class!

Isaacs-FalbelAdamAdam Isaacs-Falbel
Montpelier High School
Joined VYOA in 2015
VYO – 2 years





SolheimIsaacIsaac Solheim
Champlain Valley Union High School
Joined VYOA in 2010
VYStrings – 2 years
VYSinfonia – 1 year
VYPhilharmonia – 1 year
VYO – 2 years


What do you love about playing your instrument?
Isaac: I have always been drawn to the violin because it typically plays the main melody and because it is such a lyrical and emotional instrument. You really “feel” the music when you are playing.
Adam: What I love about playing the cello is that it is such a versatile and beautiful instrument, and that it really gives me a chance to escape from my life into the music that I’m playing.

What is your favorite or most memorable piece that you performed with any VYOA ensemble?
Adam: The most memorable piece that I have performed with VYO was the Firebird Suite, by Igor Stravinsky. I have always loved that piece and it was a real treat to play it with such an awesome group of musicians.

What is your favorite VYOA memory?
Isaac: Definitely our trip to Iceland in summer 2015. Not only was it an extremely remarkable country to visit and experience, but I also made a lot of new friends- some of whom have become some of my closest.

What do you look forward to in playing your final VYO concert?
Isaac: It will be an emotional evening, as I have played with the VYOA and its various orchestras since I moved to Vermont seven years ago. My very first week in Vermont I did the Music Day Camp, so it has been an important part of my Vermont experience.

What would you like to change about the classical music world?
Adam: I would like to change the popular mindset that classical music is “boring,” because in my experience, while some of it can be boring at times, it is some of the best music ever written.

What other sports/groups/events are you involved in?
Adam: I am a captain of my high school baseball team, as well as being in the drama club, the jazz band, and Student Council.
Isaac: I’ve always tried a variety of sports growing up, such as tennis, fencing, soccer, and more. Currently, in the winters I race with the CVU Alpine Ski Team and in the summers I sail on the lake. I also try to workout and go running most days.

If you could perform with any (famous) musician, who would it be & why?
Isaac: I would love to perform on the violin with a musician like Joshua Bell. When I first started playing the violin one of my teachers had gone to Julliard and during that time had the opportunity to work with him. She would always tell us stories about him and encourage us to go to his concerts.
Adam: I would perform with Dizzy Gillespie, because I admire his improvisation skills, as well as how adventurous he was.

What are your plans after graduation?
Isaac: I will be heading to Europe in September to study Environmental Sciences and Sustainable Development at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
Adam: After graduation, I hope to go to a college (not sure which one) to study political science.