SV student makes all-state orchestra

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 14, 2004

"We're just pleased as punch and proud of both of these guys for what they've done."

Band Director Mike Pierce has taught at Symmes Valley High School for 18 years. He's seen a lot of musicians come and go, but 17-year-old seniors Michael Holbrook and Nick Thornton have caught not only his attention, but also that of the state's music community.

Bringing out the big brass

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Holbrook, a tuba player, has been selected to participate in the Ohio All State Orchestra - scheduled to perform Feb. 4 and 5. He spent nearly three months in preparation prior to sending in his audition tape.

His hard work was well worth the effort. Out of hundreds of entries, only 10 to 12 tubas players were to be included in the entire orchestra.

"In the history of state orchestra, which goes back quite a few years, I don't think there have been more than a dozen kids selected from southern Ohio," Pierce said.

The tuba player was in the regional orchestra two years ago. The experience challenged Holbrook's musical skills because he had to perform with students more advanced than he was. When he came back, he said he felt prepared for any task.

"I think it was a learning experience for me and I wish a lot of kids around here would do something like that because they get to learn so much," Holbrook said.

With his recent selection, Holbrook had the opportunity to play in the all-state band or orchestra. He went with the orchestra.

So what makes that choice so unique?

"Mostly it's the students from the Columbus area and they have orchestras in their schools," Pierce said. "We don't have an orchestra, so that makes this a little more unusual in that these gentlemen have outperformed students from these other schools."

Holbrook said he never set out to be a tuba player-that was his band director's idea. But the humble young man seemed appreciative of Pierce's intervention.

"I've learned how to try my best in music and be the best I can be and always trying a little bit harder than my (current) level," he said.

Marching to a different beat

Fellow band mate and percussionist Thornton has attended regional orchestra for the past three years. The event took place the weekend before Thanksgiving and was a revealing experience.

"It's very interesting to go up with larger bands," Thornton said. "With their program, they have a wider variety of what they learn how to play.

Pierce said the young percussionist is exceptionally skilled and proved that when auditioning for the regional group.

Thornton said he hopes to join Ohio State's marching band upon graduation from high school. Being able to attend regional competitions has helped him to get a better grasp on what life has to offer.

"You get a bigger picture of things," he said. "We're out here on an island and don't know that the rest of the world is out there, so it's an eye-opening experience."

Taking note

Both seniors said they were unsure whether they wanted to pursue music as a career. But their academic excellence would enable them to go into almost any field, Pierce said.

One thing is for certain: These two young men have brought a lot of pride to their teacher and their school. Thanks to the band boosters and school board, money for instruments and trips to competitions are made possible.

"We're fortunate to have a lot of students involved in honor bands and I think it's a great stepping stone," Pierce said.