Rapides Youth Orchestra is on a roll. The students are preparing to play concerts at Carnegie Hall and the White House in December. But before then, they’ll compete in the Crescent City Classic National Orchestra Competition on March 23. Later this month, they’ll perform the National Anthem at a New Orleans Hornets game. Classical guitarist John De Chiaro teaches string instruments at three public schools in Alexandria. He says it’s easy to spot the kids who will stick with music. It’s not their raw talent that stands out; rather, it's their accountability.
“You can overcome a lot if you’re just willing to work at it every day. You don’t have to be a virtuoso to play this music. But you have to be dedicated and committed," De Chiaro said. "Those are the kind of kids I'm looking for, and I can spot them like that.”
Alexandria Senior High freshman Jade Morrison picked up the violin in sixth grade at De Chiaro’s urging. She said she chose it on a lark, and never thought she’d get this serious about it.
“I didn’t even think I’d be able to play the violin five years ago, and here I am going to Carnegie Hall and the White House," Morrison said.
Seventh grader Christian Singletary picked up a cello for the first time last year. Now, he seldom sets it down. He said the cello has coaxed him out of his shell. After he plays Carnegie Hall, he said he’ll have the confidence to push ahead as a musician.
“I’ll have more respect for myself and know that I can do a lot more things since I’ve done that, and probably get more of a scholarship to college," Singletary said.
The Crescent City youth orchestra competition will be held at the University of New Orleans. The Rapides Youth Orchestra will play Carnegie Hall as part of a youth orchestra series. De Chiaro said the concert hall is being paid for through a grant from RoyOMartin Co.