Accomplished music student wins note-worthy award

NOTE+THIS.+Oliver+has+been+playing+the+bassoon+since+sixth+grade.+He+also+plays+the+drums+and+picks+up+other+instruments+as+well.+%E2%80%9CI%E2%80%99m+picking+up+bass+guitar+at+the+moment%2C+and+playing+some+acoustic+guitar+as+well.+I+have+done+Sycamore+Electric+Ensemble+%28SEE1%29+for+three+years+as+well.%E2%80%9D+Fun+fact%3A+he+has+perfect+pitch.+

McDaniel's Photography

NOTE THIS. Oliver has been playing the bassoon since sixth grade. He also plays the drums and picks up other instruments as well. “I’m picking up bass guitar at the moment, and playing some acoustic guitar as well. I have done Sycamore Electric Ensemble (SEE1) for three years as well.” Fun fact: he has perfect pitch.

  For senior Adrian Oliver, music has been an integral part of his life and school career for many years. Currently, he plays the bassoon for the SHS Orchestra and Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra (CSYO) and participates in Sycamore Winds, SHS’s drumline in the marching band, jazz band, District Honors Bands, and University Honor Bands.

  Additionally, he has been awarded a Superior Rating in the Ohio Music Education Association (OMEA) Solo and Ensemble Adjudicated Events.

  Recently, Oliver was awarded the Norman E. Johns Chair Award, a highly selective award given annually to four students from typically underrepresented minorities in orchestra, including African-American, Latino, and Native American students. The award covers the cost of tuition for that CSYO season.

  Students who apply for this award must first get accepted into CSYO and then audition in front of a panel of judges, including Norman E. Johns himself.

  “[CSYO] was a very interesting audition because it was a blind audition, so I did not know who was behind the curtain though I believe one of them was Martin Garcia, one of the principal bassoonists in the orchestra.

  “He would give me a recommendation on a specific passage or pattern. With the audition for the Norman E. Johns Chair Award, I could see everybody,” Oliver said.

  Oliver was motivated to apply for the merit-based award because he wants to seek any opportunity he can to grow as a musician.

Being able to play with the strings and all the different instruments is just a wonderful experience and to create so many colors and sounds- I long to create that experience and recreate that experience.”

— Adrian Oliver, 12

  “I wanted [to audition] because it is always a good idea to take any opportunity that I can. It is a good opportunity to go play for some more people. Of course, when you have professional musicians in front of you, like at the audition (they were all Cincinnati Symphony members), and they were giving me live feedback while I was on the stage.

  “I would play something, and they would say, ‘Play it again,’ or ‘Try it this way,’ so of course I am getting this live feedback from them. It is another audition experience,” Oliver said.

  Music has been a major influencing factor in his decision to pursue it, and the experiences Oliver has participated in have only solidified his certainty.

  “I have grown up around music. My dad is a musician, my mother’s side of the family are all musicians, so [a musical career] is not something that would have passed me up very easily.

  “So it’s not like this was something new for me to be involved music, but playing in this orchestra was new.

  “The first year I played in the concert orchestra, it was something different because I’d only played in an orchestra twice- I played in the youth honors orchestra when I was in junior high school and in band.

  “[Playing in the concert orchestra] was different from band because the music styles were just different.

  “Being able to play with the strings and all the different instruments is just a wonderful experience and to create so many colors and sounds- I long to create that experience and recreate that experience,” Oliver said.

  With all of these musical experiences and accolades, Oliver is looking to pursue music in college and as a long-term career path.

  He plans to go to a state school for undergraduate education to keep tuition costs low and then apply for a conservatory school for graduate school.

  “I’m looking to play in symphonies. It is an extremely rewarding career- of course it is very demanding because you have to be top tiered to make it into the good groups.

  “In major orchestras, [the players] are paid well. It is a difficult job. One, you have to keep performing- you have like five services a week and then maybe a concert or two on the weekend.

  “And they are long concerts and the music is very difficult, so of course you have to be prepared.

You are pushing yourself every rehearsal, every week before the rehearsal. When you get music passed out, you then have to prepare that music, and when it’s difficult, you have got to keep working on it, and it makes you a better player as you go.”

— Adrian Oliver, 12

  “For me, when I can get a lick down that is particularly difficult, and I get it down and can play it in a concert for live people, it is rewarding for me because one, I become a better player for that, and two, I can play this thing that I have been stumped on for a long time.

  “So of course being able to be in a top tier group is not only good for bragging rights, it is also good because it’s a challenge. You are pushing yourself every rehearsal, every week before the rehearsal.

  “When you get music passed out, you then have to prepare that music, and when it’s difficult, you have got to keep working on it, and it makes you a better player as you go.

  “As you continue to do that, you move up into different groups and orchestras as you go because you keep getting better.

  “Once you get into a major orchestra such as New York Philharmonic or Cincinnati Symphony, you can make a great living and have a very rewarding career,” Oliver said.

  The big time commitment to his academic career, homework, musical interests and obligation, and a job has taught him how to handle juggling many responsibilities and managing his time effectively.

  “You have school in the first part of the day, homework afterwards, some have jobs including me, and then you have your music, so there is a lot to work in. It is certainly a time management skill that you get from being a musician.

  “I feel that I am more confident in how I can manage myself,” Oliver said.

  Oliver will receive the award after the Gregory Porter Concert on Sun., Nov. 19, which is a concert sponsored by Norman E. Johns and the Multicultural Awareness Council from the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.