Tarpon Springs High School senior Kaila DeLany will spend a month traveling the country over the summer with the National Youth Orchestra of the USA.
TARPON SPRINGS – “Gabriel’s Oboe” was the most beautiful song Kaila DeLany had ever heard when her teacher played it in her sixth-grade band class at Southside Fundamental. There, in Chris Touchton’s class, she decided that she wanted to make music like that.
Six years later, DeLany, now a senior at Tarpon Springs High School, is one of the best oboists in her age group, and one of the 120-member 2014 National Youth Orchestra of the USA.
The orchestra, run by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, had its inaugural season in 2013, when 120 of the best young musicians across the country traveled to Washington, D.C., Moscow, London and St. Petersburg, Russia. This year, in its sophomore season, 120 new musicians will travel coast-to-coast with conductor David Robertson and violinist Gil Shaham.
The tour will begin at the Performing Arts Center in Purchase, N.Y., on July 20, followed by performances including Carnegie Hall, the Tanglewood Music Festival, the Appalachian Summer Festival. On Aug. 4, the tour will conclude at The Music Center’s Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. The repertoire for the performances includes Leonard Bernstein’s symphonic dances from West Side Story, Benjamin Britten’s Violin Concerto, Op. 15, original work from Samuel Carl Adams and “Pictures at an Exhibition” by Modest Mussorgsky.
DeLany, who heard about the program through a private tutor, had to send in audio files of a 3-minute selection of her choosing as well as excerpts of pieces chosen by the Weill Music Institute. Months later, she got her acceptance while standing in the lobby at Rice University where she was auditioning for the music program – DeLany’s been auditioning for colleges since January.
“I just started crying in the middle of the lobby,” she said. “Honestly, I didn’t think I’d get in.”
The National Youth Orchestra looks for the best musicians, DeLany said, but she thinks they wanted more than technical expertise.
“They look for mature music making and advanced technique, but they also wanted to know that you can see the deeper idea than just what’s on the page,” she said. “They want to see the push-and-pull in the music, the characters behind the piece.”
Since sixth grade, DeLany has done everything she could to master the oboe: she takes private lessons, she plays with the Tampa Metropolitan Youth Orchestra and she spends hours after school rehearsing with Tarpon Springs High School Band Director Kevin Ford and Assistant Director Chris De Leon. This summer, she’ll be taught by musicians from symphony orchestras in Chicago, Pittsburgh and St. Louis and philharmonics in New York and Los Angeles.
“There’s so much I’m still learning: the dynamics, the articulations, the phrasing,” DeLany said. “So much I have to understand to get to a level where I’m telling a story with my sound.”