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East County Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019 3 weeks ago

Lakewood Ranch High School quartet sets tone for orchestra

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Quartet spreads awareness about the orchestra program.
by: Liz Ramos Staff Writer

Whether it’s an opening of a Publix in Parrish or a reception at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, four Lakewood Ranch High School orchestral musicians blend their individual musical roles together to capture attention.

Junior violinists Mikayla Stokes and Brianna Noon, senior violist Lucy Crank and senior cellist Angelina Ortiz are the public face of Lakewood Ranch High School’s orchestra program as they perform at events throughout the community.

“We have requests every once in a while, pretty regularly now, for a public performance where large ensembles are not really the best,” Orchestra Director Daniel Shafer said.

Shafer tasked advanced orchestra students with choosing who would be in the quartet.

Ortiz said the four students were chosen based on availability and desire.

Stokes, Crank and Ortiz started playing their respective instruments in sixth grade while Noon started in fourth. Each of them have experience playing in the school’s orchestra as well as performing solos and in ensembles.

“They are some of the stronger students in the program,” Shafer said. “They’re all responsible. They’re all mature and professional. I know I can rely on them being the public face of our ensemble.”

Performing in the community spotlights the school’s orchestra program, which some people might not have known about.

Ortiz said the special events allow the quartet to give people who wouldn’t normally attend a high school orchestra’s concert a chance to experience what the Lakewood Ranch High program is about.

“We’ve gotten a really good reaction from a lot of the public so far,” Ortiz said.

The quartet’s next performance is in November for Lakewood Ranch High School athletes’ signing day.

Crank said people have been surprised to find young people interested in classical music. Their performances have changed that perception.

“A lot of kids have not really been to an orchestra concert,” she said. “Putting on a pretty good performance of playing popular pieces — like ‘Avengers’ and things like that — shows that orchestra can actually be cool too.”

The quartet might also inspire young students to take up a string instrument.

“We have to set an example,” Ortiz said. “Although it still is a responsibility that we have, it’s one that you’d like to jump up to. It means people will be more likely to respect you and respect your experience and how you are as a musician and a student.”

With varying schedules and other responsibilities, the girls can sometimes struggle to find time to rehearse together, but they make it work.

Crank said the passion for their instruments and music as well as their musical abilities sets their quartet apart.

“You all feel the same about the instruments,” Crank said. “You’re all more dedicated than ever. It’s a different work ethic.”

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