Zionsville teen hits all the right notes

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When Adriana Koch applied to join a prestigious national youth orchestra, she did so with zero expectations of being selected.

Suffice it to say, the Zionsville teen was more than pleasantly surprised when she made the roster.

“I was actually very surprised,” said Koch, 18, an oboe player who has been selected to perform this summer with the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America.

Assembled by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, the NYO-USA is comprised of the top musicians ages 16 to 19 from across the U.S. Following a July 29 concert at Carnegie Hall, the orchestra – which has musicians from 34 states – will tour Europe, with performances in Amsterdam, Berlin, Naples, Italy, and Lucerne, Switzerland.

Koch, who recently graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy in Interlochen, Mich., is one of only two Hoosiers selected for the NYO-USA. She applied simply because a teacher suggested she should. The Interlochen Arts Academy is a pre-professional boarding high school that offers seven arts majors, including music.

“(The NYO-USA) was one of those things that you apply just to apply, you don’t actually think you’ll make it,” said Koch, who has played the oboe since fifth grade. “I applied knowing that only four or five spots were available for my instrument. That’s four or five high school-aged musicians in the entire United States, so you can understand why I didn’t have high hopes, but things worked out in the end.”

Participation in the orchestra NYO-USA program is entirely free. All travel expenses to New York and Europe, including airfare, hotels, meals, visa costs and additional transportation fees, are covered by the Carnegie organization.

“This is one of the biggest reasons why people apply to the program,” Koch said. “Not only is it composed of the best musicians across the country, but we get to tour Europe for free.”

Koch, who will double major in computer science and oboe performance at Indiana University in the fall, has always enjoyed music and wanted to play alto saxophone in grade school. But she wound up following her mother’s advice when it was time to actually learn an instrument.

“My mom thought that the ‘smart’ kids played the oboe and that’s what she wanted for me,” said Koch, whose parents are Matt and Yvonne Koch. “I have never been happier about choosing the oboe. I think it was the best decision my mom ever made for me. I can’t imagine my life without it.”

Although music is important to Koch and has opened many doors for her, she doesn’t plan to make it a career. But she does plan to continue playing, regardless of where her career path leads.

“I hope to become a software engineer and work for a major tech company,” she said. “I love playing the oboe, but computer science stimulates my brain in a different way than music. Music has always been a healthy outlet for me, and I don’t ever see myself stop practicing or playing in an orchestra in my free time.”


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