Orchestra students string together success

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Aaron Michaelson

Debbie Chu selected a Tchaikovsky piece for her cello solo. This year’s she’s playing Cello Concerto #1 in A minor by Saint-Saens.

Two TWHS orchestra students, junior Debbie Chu and senior Riley Stoltz, were named Outstanding Performers for the 2020-2021 UIL Texas State Solo and Ensemble Contest.

Both Stoltz and Chu competed in the Cello Solo division, and were two out of the 13 total cellists to win this distinction at the state level.

In order to win this award, Chu and Stoltz had to compete at the regional level and progressed to the state level.

“I am very proud of them,” orchestra director Aaron Michaelson said. “This is only the first time that that has happened since I have worked here.” Michaelson has been at TWHS for 11 years.

This year the contest was held virtually, and competitors had to send in video of them playing their self-selected pieces.

Solo and Ensemble competitions are graded on a scale from 1 to 5, with a 1 being the highest score. Out of those who earn a 1, a select few are awarded as an Outstanding Performer.

“At first, I didn’t know that an ‘Outstanding Performer’ award existed,” Stoltz said, “I was very surprised and happy when I got it because I had my sights set on the 1.”

Stoltz has played the cello for seven years. (Aaron Michaelson)

Chu is looking forward to this year’s event.

“I am setting my main goal as trying to communicate my thoughts, feelings, and emotions through my music to the point where I can touch the hearts of my audience,” Chu said.