COCOLAMUS - The flute is perhaps not the show-stopping sound in the high school band. It does not command the attention of the crowd. It instead adds that lyrical flow to the boisterous sounds of the other instruments.
East Juniata High School junior Jennie Tressler is content playing the flute, sitting in the background, and being the part of the band that makes "sound effects," she said.
Ideally she quietly would have loved to have her instrument be heard in a different setting where it could be a bit more prominent.
Sentinel photo by Tabitha Goodling
East Juniata High School junior Jennie Tressler is among 75 high school students from central Pennsylvania who have earned a seat in the Harrisburg Symphony Youth Orchestra.
A few weeks ago her humble desire came to light.
Tressler is among 75 high school students from all over central Pennsylvania who have earned a seat in the Harrisburg Symphony Youth Orchestra.
Tressler plays the flute and auditioned the evening of her first day of school as a junior on Aug. 31. The Thompsontown girl has been playing the wind instrument since she was small. She began to take the instrument more seriously at a junior high level as she worked with her instructor, Jerry Stone, during weekend lessons.
"It was then I realized that (playing the flute) could be more than just a hobby."
Tressler advanced during her sophomore year to district level band conference and then on to regional band conference. This summer she attended a music camp in Williamsport in which she took part in an orchestra setting.
The addition of string instruments surrounding her as she played her flute was a melodic moment of awe for the teenager.
She wanted to continue being part of an orchestra and decided to try out for the closest youth symphony she knew - the Harrisburg Symphony Youth Orchestra.
Tressler, at the encouragement of her parents, applied online and then nervously auditioned in front of the HSYO director Tara Simoncic. She played two solos including a fast and slow piece and a major and melodic minor.
Each student was given a number to review online a week later to see if they made the list. Two hundred teens auditioned but fewer than half made it to the list. Tressler was thrilled when her number was visible on her computer screen.
"I was relieved!" she said with a smile and a sigh.
Tressler now is committed to rehearsing in Harrisburg every Monday evening from 7 to 9:30 p.m. The HSYO spends a solid hour and a half in rehearsal, takes a 15-minute break and goes back to work for an additional hour.
The very first rehearsal was "extremely intimidating," Tressler admitted, "I just kept thinking 'Everyone is really talented!'"
The group has been perfecting two pieces for its upcoming Nov. 13 performance: "New World Symphony" and "Overture from Candide."
Tressler's band director at EJHS, Kevin Milliken, noted he and his wife will be in Harrisburg on Nov. 13.
"It's so neat that she can broaden her horizons there," Milliken said, "I was always confident she would do a great job."
Milliken describes his band student as dedicated. He notes that any band student who wishes to achieve success by participating at such a level as the youth symphony can do so "if they are as dedicated as Jennie."
For Tressler music is her life. Her weekends are filled with flute lessons and marching band performances. Mondays she is at the symphony. The rest of the week she perfects her style at home.
"Music is my main thing," she shared. "I just think music is really relaxing and it is so satisfying to know you can do something well."