April 10, 2013 - Horn player Caelan Stewart of Clarkston will perform around the world this summer as part of the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America.
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"I'm really excited about the tour," said Stewart, 16, currently spending his junior year at The Interlochen Arts Academy in Interlochen, Mich. "I enjoy making music and I also love to travel. It is going to be a great opportunity to experience other cultures and also showcase America's great musical talent in amazing places around the world. I feel honored to be part of such an incredible experience and look forward to performing on some famous stages."
Students ages 16-19 from around the country sent in video auditions. He sent in a video audition of himself playing excerpts from Shostakovich 5, Siegfried's Horn Call, Tchaikovsky 5, and other tunes.
"His dad and I are very proud of Caelan and his accomplishments," said Erika Stewart, his mother. "To travel the world doing what he loves, making music. Our family will be attending the Kennedy Center performance in July, then the orchestra will depart for Russia and London, England."
Caelan has been playing the French horn since seventh grade, almost five years. He started playing piano at the Clarkston Conservatory of Music at 6 years old and joined band in sixth grade, starting out on the trombone.
"He is not only incredibly passionate about playing the horn and making music, but he is very committed and disciplined," Erika said.
After sixth grade he was encouraged to try the French horn by his band director.
"I loved the sound of the horn and its versatility in tone quality. I also loved that it was a challenging instrument to learn. Once I started on it, I never wanted to play anything else," he said. "My dream is to play in a professional orchestra one day."
He spends two to three hours a day practicing and also has ensemble and orchestral practices.
"Whenever he has the opportunity to play, he jumps at the chance," Erika said.
Before attending Interlochen Arts Academy, he participated in the Clarkston Community Band, two Detroit Symphony Orchestra Civic Youth Ensembles, and orchestra pit for the CHS musicals.
"His hard work and dedication paid off for him this year with securing the NYO spot as well as placing first at the Michigan Federation of Music Clubs Solo Competition in January," Erika said.
"I literally burst into tears about hearing the news of his selection. It is an incredible opportunity to see the world in such an interesting way, from some of the world's most famous stages. What an opportunity!"
This summer, Caelan will also be taking lessons with a few horn professors around the country. He will be auditioning this time next year for universities and conservatories, where he plans to study music performance-horn.
"Caelan has been very blessed to have a lot of support around him, not only within his family but the amazing directors in the music department from the middle school, junior high, and high school," Erika said. "They were a wealth of information and a true supporter of Caelan, in making sure he had opportunities to grow and shine in his music."
Directors Shelley Roland, Michael Lewis, Justin Harris, and Julie Mathews, retired, are an amazing, dedicated team of individuals fully committed to their students and the music program, Erika said.
"They truly gave Caelan that strong foundation for which his successes have been able to build upon," she said. "His current teacher at Interlochen is Dr. Gustavo Camacho and he has been amazing as well."
– Phil Custodio