Above: Ema Nakayama '21, Mia Rosenblum-Solis '24, and Esther Kim '21.
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, it’s been a banner year for Holton musicians, with students earning impressive recognition from local, regional, and national organizations and programs. In addition to three students being named to the 2021 Maryland All-State Ensembles, Esther Kim ’21 was invited to join the 2021 NAFME All-Eastern Honors Orchestra (oboe), Ema Nakayama ’21 was honored as part of the 2020 NAFME All-National Honor Mixed Choir (alto 2), and Mia Rosenblum-Solis ’24 was invited to participate in the 2020 National Symphony Orchestra Youth Fellowship Program (trombone).
Esther Kim ’21
2021 NAFME All-Eastern Honors Orchestra (oboe)
Esther was one of just 719 outstanding high-school musicians from the NAFME’s eastern district who were selected for the five All-Eastern ensembles, and one of only 165 Orchestra members. Admission into the “event” meant a series of virtual programs, including rehearsals, workshops, speakers, and a final recorded performance that premiered in late April. (View Esther and the All-Eastern Orchestra’s performance here.)
“I felt really grateful to have this opportunity to make music with so many talented young musicians across the East Coast,” Esther says. Being virtual “wasn’t the same musician-to-musician interaction that I might have gotten if I were doing in-person rehearsals. However, they provided a lot of seminars and masterclasses for us, so that allowed us to listen to and engage with leaders in the music field.”
Esther adds, “One thing that was really exciting was that a few musicians I had known from summer programs from years back were also participating in All-Eastern with me. Knowing that made me realize that, regardless of how far apart we are because of the pandemic, we are still connected to each other through music.”
Ema Nakayama ’21
2020 NAFME All-National Honor Mixed Choir (alto 2)
Ema is no stranger to honor choirs; she has participated in the Maryland All-State Chorus for six years now. But being one of just 542 musicians from across the nation selected to participate in the 2020 All-National Ensembles was a special distinction.
“Choral singing has an extremely special place in my heart,” she says, “and it always gives me so much joy to meet and then make music with people who also love chorus. When I got accepted, I was honestly in disbelief–followed by much, much excitement.”
Like the All-State and All-Eastern Ensembles, participation included virtual rehearsals, workshops, and a final, pre-recorded performance.
“I felt that this experience not only validated my efforts throughout my time in Upper School Chorus and Chamber Singers, but more importantly made me further realize how important music and chorus is to me,” Ema says. “I definitely would’ve not had this amazing opportunity without all the guidance and encouragement I received from Mr. Fanning, Dr. Ng, Dr. Schuppener, and my fellow Women in Blue.”
Ema looks forward to continue singing in college next year. "I don't think I could survive without it!" she says.
Mia Rosenblum-Solis ’24
National Symphony Orchestra Youth Fellowship Program (trombone)
Mia started playing the recorder in 3rd Grade at Holton and began practicing trombone the following year. At that time, she had no idea where music would lead her. This year, she was thrilled to receive an invitation to join the National Symphony Orchestra Youth Fellowship Program, an audition-only, full-scholarship orchestral training program for students in grades 9-12.
Mia says she felt overwhelmed when she first learned she’d been accepted into the program. “I knew that it was going to be a challenge but after I realized what a great opportunity this was, I felt very happy.”
While restructured because of the pandemic, the program has provided mentorship and coaching from NSO or Washington National Opera Orchestra (WNOO) musicians, master classes and discussions with working musicians, and rehearsal and performance opportunities (largely virtual, but now increasingly in-person).
“I have learned a lot of things from this program, and I feel like I have grown as a player,” Mia says. “Because the program takes up lots of time, I learned how to balance my rehearsal time and still find ways to get in personal practice. A highlight from this year was when we got to talk to maestro Gianandrea Noseda.”
Mia is thrilled for her final performance (in-person!) at the Kennedy Center with fellow members of her quintet on June 5. “I have made a great commitment to this part of my life, I have studied and practiced hard,” Mia says.
And she—and audiences—are seeing the fruits of her labors.