Big Apple-bound

After months of planning and practice, Rice University’s Shepherd School Symphony Orchestra departed from Baltimore for New York today for the second leg of its East Coast tour – the Feb. 18 debut at Carnegie Hall.

Michael Stubbart, a graduate percussion student, said the “novelty factor” of touring is essential as a musician.

Shepherd School orchestra members arrive at New York's DiMenna Center for their Feb. 17 rehearsal.

“It’s a blast,” he said. “It really breathes fresh air into what you do as a musician, and it’s wonderful to get to play this program a few different times in a few different settings and be on the road.”

The students were in high spirits during the four-hour bus ride and passed the time by watching movies, listening to music and napping. But upon arriving at New York’s DiMenna Center for Classical Music — the site of the orchestra’s first rehearsal — the students were all business.

Sam Almaguer, a graduate clarinet student, said the trip “has gone really smoothly so far.”

“The buildup has been amazing, and we’re very excited to be here,” he said. “The concert tomorrow night is going to be wonderful. It’s a really high-energy program, and every time we practice it just gets better and better.”

Concertmaster Yi Zhao, a graduate violin student, said it is an honor to work with so many talented colleagues at the Shepherd School.

“I think this tour has been such a proud experience for the Shepherd School Orchestra, and we’ll carry the memory of it with us for a long time,” she said.

Richard Brown, professor of percussion, made the trip to New York to see many of his students perform.

“It’s great to be here to see the students perform at Carnegie,” he said. “I go to all the concerts in Houston, and I’m very happy to be here for this one.”

Robert Yekovich, dean of the Shepherd School and the Elma Schneider Professor of Music, said that seeing the orchestra in New York for the Carnegie performance feels “surreal.”

“[The tour] is something that [the Shepherd School] has talked about for a long time,” Yekovich said. “Carnegie is an ideal performance hall, and it’s amazing for the students to finally be here.”

For more coverage of the Shepherd School’s East Coast tour, visit

About Amy McCaig

Amy is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.