Written by Molly Force and Sumer Ghazala
Three Seaholm seniors have been asked to join a prestigious local music ensemble.
Hailey Willet, Heather Shen, and Dylan Packard are improving their musical abilities by being members of the Dearborn Youth Symphony Orchestra, which is comprised of advanced musicians and includes an extensive repertoire.
The musicians in the DYSO have master classes directed by guest clinicians and perform alongside the Dearborn Symphony Orchestra in their annual May Concert.
Willett, a member of Seaholm’s Symphony band, is also the 1st chair oboe in the DYSO but she also occasionally plays the English horn.
Another player of the Seaholm Symphony Band, Shen, performed a solo this past weekend with the Dearborn Symphony Orchestra after winning a concerto competition.
“I was so excited to win,” Shen said. “I got to play with them on Friday and performed my Bronze Concerto which is really fun.”
Packard, who also plays with Seaholm’s Symphony Band, got involved two years ago.
“My clarinet was broken during the actual audition,” Packard said. “The keys on the bottom weren’t working at all, but I still got the position. I try to find many orchestras that I can to perform in. It’s a good experience for learning and definitely for growing as an instrumentalist.”
Willett, Shen, and Packard got involved with the youth symphony through the Band Director at Seaholm, Tim Cibor, who is the Artistic Director and Conductor for the DYSO.
“He’s kind of like the varsity coach of the program,” Willett said. “All the younger directors look up to him. He’s the top conductor that only does the symphony but he also runs the behind the scenes a little bit.”
Auditions for the DYSO were a breeze for Willett because Cibor already knew her potential.
“Since Cibor has heard me play a chair test he pretty much let me in and then the next audition process wasn’t that big deal of a deal,” Willett said. “Other players have to play scales and a piece but that’s for people he doesn’t really know outside of Seaholm.”
Cibor was well aware of Shen’s talents as well.
“He needed a piano player so he asked me,” Shen said. “I didn’t audition.”
The DYSO requires difficult music to be performed that high school students are not used to.
“Cibor picks out a lot of good music that I enjoy,” Packard said. “He’s a good conductor and he knows what he’s doing. I’m playing stuff now that I never would’ve played two or three years ago.”
Willett decided she would take on the role of being a member of the DYS because she was interested in being a better player and wanted to be involved in something new.
“I wanted to be challenged a little more and I enjoy playing classical pieces rather than band music. I thought it would be cool to have a new experience so I tried it,” she said. “When I first got there I was really overwhelmed and by this year it’s hard, but it’s not as hard. It has expanded my horizon of composers and music.”
“It’s a great opportunity for us to play harder music that you wouldn’t see in a school orchestra,” Shen said. “We got to play The Planets which is a very hard piece. No high school orchestra can really play it.”
Willett, Shen, and Packard rehearse with the DYS Symphony Orchestra every Monday night for two hours and perform in concerts with them three times a year in front of crowds as big as 1,200 people.
“It taught me how to start using time wisely because you only get a certain amount of times to practice these things,” Willett said. “I mean yes, you can practice at home but all together it’s only once a week. And the music is really challenging so only getting a small amount of time makes you really appreciate the time you get to practice with the whole group.”
The DYS Symphony Orchestra differs from Seaholm’s Symphony Band in many different ways.
“You get to meet upper level high school musicians around the area,” Shen said. “It’s a wonderful chance to be challenged and it’s so much fun.”
Willett feels the same way.
“There are strings and there’s a higher level of talent because some of those people are pursuing their instruments in college,” Willett said. “They really care and really practice. We play music that symphonies perform and we play the original stuff not the transposed stuff. It’s a higher level of music and it sounds a lot better because people are actually really into their instruments.”
The DYSO’s next concert is coming up in November at the Henry Ford Performing Arts Center.