Musicians from high schools across the county auditioned at Chesapeake High School (CHS) Tuesday for a spot in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) Side-by-Side program. Side-by-Side, the result of a partnership between Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) and the BSO, provides students with an opportunity to perform with the BSO on stage at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore.
Amy Cohn, supervisor of music programs for AACPS, supervised the auditions and said that each year, a different county high school is chosen to host the audition process. Cohn said that CHS was chosen this year because the school offered to host, and was centrally located for many of the students who planned to audition.
“This program is an amazing tradition,” said Cohn. “AACPS has been partnering with the BSO since the mid-eighties, and the program really is exciting for students who are chosen to participate.”
Cohn said that the amount of students selected to perform in the Side-by-Side program ranges from year to year, and is based upon each student's score from their audition. Cohn explained that students must play prepared musical pieces, as well as complete sight-reading exercises and play various scales as a part of the audition process.
Geoffrey Manyin, a senior at Annapolis High School, has participated in the program for the past two years, and said that he felt confident about his audition for the current year.
“I tend to be self-critical, but I do think it went well,” said Manyin. “I'm excited about the potential of being a part of the program again. Playing at the Meyerhoff is indescribable, the conductor is amazing, and I have enjoyed both the musical and social aspects of the program every year.”
Cohn said that one of her favorite parts of the program is the performance that happens every winter at the Meyerhoff.
“In addition to the students who are selected being able to play with the BSO, we also bus in high school and middle school students to watch the performance,” said Cohn. “We hope that, in seeing the opportunity their fellow students receive, the students who attend the performance will grow in their love of music. The entire program is truly about getting students interested in music, and empowering them to make music a part of their lives throughout their lifetime.”
Students who desire to participate in the Side-by-Side program must audition before county-appointed adjudicators. In order to be eligible for the program, students must be participants in their high school's music program and must be recommended by a teacher. Additionally, students must maintain exemplary conduct and musicianship to be a part of the program.
Sara Cochran attends Broadneck High School, and auditioned for a spot as a flutist in the program. Cochran spoke excitedly of the opportunity to play with the BSO.
“I want to be a musician later in life,” said Cochran. “This program really helps to stretch your ability and it is an amazing opportunity. I decided to audition because it would be a big help to my career as a musician as an adult.”