For some Central students, music is not only a form of expression, but also a method of coping with the hours of homework and the beginning of a career in the arts. For Eype John (275), music has been an integral part of his personality and life. In his junior year, he participated in Central’s production of Oklahoma! and played the bass in Central’s orchestra. Eype is now preparing for his role as Central’s President of Orchestra for his senior year.
When school is both in and out of session, Eype is a member of Philadelphia’s All City Orchestra (ACO). Students from the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) participate in ACO to broaden their musical careers, be a part of a larger community, and become leaders and role models for younger, aspiring musicians across the city.
“I’ve been part of the All City Orchestra since I was in middle school, and it kept pushing me year after year to get better on the bass,” Eype recollected. “I would not be who I am today as a musician without my amazing music teachers, who’re all SDP music teachers, and the All City program. I initially joined because of all the good things that the alumni had to say about the program. After joining, I was able to experience firsthand all the wonderful things that came with being a part of it. It gave me a place to go make music with kids from around the city that are as equally passionate about music as I am. Being surrounded with so much talent gives you a little kick to keep wanting to get better.”
At the beginning of the 2015 summer, ACO had a special treat for its ensemble. The orchestra flew to Italy to perform in front of thousands and enjoy the Italian scenery and culture. Eype and fifteen other Central students were among the ACO musicians that landed in Rome on June 20. Among the cities visited were Rome, Perugia, Assisi, Siena, Montecatini, Lucca, Florence, and Vatican City (which is technically its own country).
ACO performed concerts at San Lorenzo’s Church in Perugia, San Rufino Cathedral in Assisi, Terme Tettuccio in Montecatini, San Paolino’s Church in Tuscany, and at the Piazza della Signoria in Florence. For Eype, this experience was not only an achievement in his musical career, but also a momentous milestone in his life.
“As one of my fellow All City Orchestra members recently said in a blog, not everyone happens to play a concert at a church in Perugia, or at the Piazza della Signoria in Florence in front of hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of people. This trip has really helped me grow as a musician. Having a performance tour under my belt while still in high school is extremely beneficial. As principal bassist, the trip sharpened my leadership skills on a musical and general level.”
A trip of this magnitude not only gave the musicians a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to expand their musical frontiers, but also the promise of countless memories to be shared among the students. For Eype, the second concert provided much to be remembered.
“Our second concert was an outside concert. This was the first time that a lot of us had ever played in an outside concert, and we were all very excited. However, Mother Nature wasn’t going to make it an easy concert for us. We had winds gusting at about twenty miles per hour throughout the entirety of the concert. They caused our music sheets to blow off of our stands. Eventually, chairs and stands started flying across the courtyard. Nevertheless, we were still able to deliver an exceptional performance to the people of Assisi.”
Eype plans on making his senior year at Central count as President of Orchestra. With ACO’s Italy tour now another addition to his musical career, Eype hopes to bring his acquired knowledge, wisdom, and education back to Central and apply it wherever he can.
“I’m extremely excited to work with all the amazing musicians we have at our own school and maybe even have a trip of our own if everything works out with the funding. I can’t wait to get back on stage for Central’s annual spring musical,” said Eype. “It’s never too late to pick up an instrument and start playing. You never know where it will take you. I can proudly say that most of the things I have accomplished in my life so far have come through music. Getting into music opens a whole new world of possibilities and opportunities. Who knows? You might end up going on a fully sponsored trip to Italy!”
Natan Yakov (275)