To the early sounds of reveille, Evan Saddler wakes up and begins his morning chores. The clicking of his mallets as he sets up his instruments is one of the few sounds heard so early on the vast, empty stage. But after three hours of rehearsing with the World Youth Symphony Orchestra (WYSO) and hours of classes to follow, he’s ready to do it all again the next morning.
This 18-year-old from Dubuque, Iowa has chosen a summer full of rehearsals and highly demanding performances. Despite waking up at the break of dawn and following the uniform policy, Evan would not have traded anything for this experience at Interlochen Arts Camp.
“After going to Interlochen Arts Academy for two years, I had heard so much about WYSO and really wanted to be in it,” says Evan. “I decided to come for the intense musical experience before going to college.”
To be in WYSO is an honor. Not only do students have to compete with each other for their chair in the orchestra, but every two weeks students must audition again to keep their spot. In addition to practicing for WYSO, students also attend supplementary classes and study one-on-one with distinguished faculty on a daily basis.
With a performance every week, WYSO Conductor Jung Ho Pak does not fail to drive these musicians to their maximum potential. “He’s intense. He pushes the ensemble to a new level and that’s part of why I came,” Evan adds.
As second chair percussionist in WYSO, Evan spends a lot of time counting measures and setting up instruments. But every note and every silence is worth his time. “I love it. I could have done drum corps as I have for the past three years or another camp, but I love the professionalism and intensity of playing in one of the top youth orchestras in the country,” says Evan. He also noted that while he could have played in drum corps, playing in a professional youth orchestra parallels the career he hopes to pursue.
Evan also takes percussion ensemble classes and participates in regular camp activities. Though the cabin life is a unique experience, one of Evan’s favorite parts of Interlochen is working with Keith Aleo, director of percussion at Interlochen, and the percussion faculty every day. He loves the camaraderie amongst the percussion students, from critiquing each other to hanging out during their free time.
In the fall, Evan will attend Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee for percussion performance. He aspires to teach percussion and become a professional percussionist for Broadway musicals.
The experience he had playing in WYSO will help prepare him for what to expect in a college environment. “It is the best orchestra I’ve ever played in,” Evan continues. “It has trained me for a professional career in music.”