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Two CHS Symphony Orchestra Students Recognized as Outstanding Soloists

Photo courtesy of Lynn Harris. Phoebe Harris was named an outstanding soloist by the MSBOA for her cello performance.

By Crystal Hayduk

Two Chelsea High School symphony orchestra students earned outstanding soloist honors from the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association (MSBOA) for their individual performances during the annual Solo and Ensemble (S&E) event.

Phoebe Harris, daughter of Lynn and Brett Harris, is a cello student of Sara Cumming.

Taking awards for two instruments, Peter Mourad is a piano student of Lester Castellana and a violin student of Nathan Peters. He is the son of Ron Mourad and Emily Kuo.

Director of Orchestras Phillip Sylvester said since both students are sophomores, the designation is especially exciting because it’s difficult for underclassmen to achieve.

Photo courtesy of Emily Kuo. Peter Mourad was named an outstanding soloist by the MSBOA for his performances on violin and piano.

In a typical year, outstanding soloists are invited to perform at the Michigan Youth Arts Festival (MYAF) in the Honors Orchestra and Honors Band. Unfortunately, these concerts have been canceled for the second year in a row due to the pandemic.

MSBOA historically holds district-level S&E in early February, followed by a state-level event in March. COVID-19 pandemic response led to changes this year. Only one event was held and performances were scored rigorously, similar to the state level competition, according to Sylvester.

Students submitted recordings for the virtual event in early February, but had to patiently wait nine weeks for the online comments and scores from the adjudicators—unlike the immediate face-to-face feedback students are accustomed to.

Of the more than 6,800 events registered statewide, Sylvester said well over 100 were from Chelsea, which included not only solos but also duets by siblings. “I’m extremely proud of all the students who participated in S&E,” said Sylvester. “Even though the competition was virtual, preparing for it still provided students with a noteworthy goal for this year. Hopefully they will carry these goals into the future, as well.”

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