By Kathleen Fay, Special to the Independent
Laguna Beach High School junior Nina Larsen has been accepted into the Southern California School Band & Orchestra Association’s prestigious All-Southern High School Honor Band in the top position of first trumpet. She played in her first concert with the group on Sunday at the Arcadia Performing Arts Center.
LBHS is a qualifying member of the association through its Band Boosters organization. “This is a big accomplishment for any young musician,” said LBHS Music Director Jeremy Chung, who approved and submitted the application on Nina’s behalf. “Hundreds of southern California students auditioned for a spot in this highly competitive program.”
Nina’s father, Troels Larsen, remembers his daughter’s first encounter with the trumpet. “She picked up my vintage Bach Stradivarius and began to play it at age 3. Here was this toddler, dancing and playing my old trumpet! It was hysterical, but also quite extraordinary, since I know how hard it is to play the trumpet.”
Nina began playing as a music student in the band at Top of the World Elementary, and continued playing with the Thurston Middle School band under the direction of Chung, who is now her music teacher at LBHS. Privately, Nina studied trumpet with Tim Hall, a freelance musician and lecturer at Chapman University. Before her sophomore year she attended summer music camp at the Idyllwild Arts Institute, and was accepted into the Junior Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble, where she remains a member.
In addition to studying classical trumpet, Nina also plays jazz. Affected by the recent death of her mentor, LBUSD jazz teacher Roger Shew, Nina felt determined to become the best trumpeter she could. Matt Witek, Nina’s current jazz teacher at LBHS, has given her a new emphasis on jazz improvisation. “Nina is highly focused on her continued jazz trumpet studies,” said Witek.
Upon Witek’s recommendation, Nina recently became a student of the esteemed trumpeter Ron Stout. “Ron tells me the most important thing to remember as a jazz player is to have fun while doing it,” said Nina. She plans to major in music when she attends college.
The author is the president of LBHS Band Boosters.