Music Spotlight: Senior Rebecca Ortiz talks clarinets and chamber music


Chayti Biswas

Senior Rebecca Ortiz.

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When it comes to her career as a musician, senior Rebecca Ortiz regards her long-time relationship with her clarinet with the same spectra of emotion as her interpersonal relationships Like being able to joke with her friends, yet understanding when it’s right to be serious, she said, “That doesn’t really change with music. Music for me is something fun, and I like to keep that kind of atmosphere when I play, but I also know when the situation […] requires my full attention,” she said.

Rebecca has been dedicated to the clarinet for ten years, alto saxophone for two years, and soprano saxophone for one. She began in elementary school when her mother placed her in a band class. “I’m really grateful for how my mom has supported me musically throughout the years,” she said.

The freedom and liberty she holds when playing motivated her to continue. “I really love the versatility of my instrument. It has such a wide range of notes, and the feeling of each note resounding in your hands when playing is such a unique feeling.” 

Throughout her years at Townsend Harris High School, she played during the December Winter Concert, Open House, the Winter Carnival this past January, and Founder’s Day in November. Beyond the walls of our school, she is also part of a chamber music project. Recently, the group had a recording session at New York University with a former student teacher, which Rebecca said was “really exciting and enlightening into the recording process.”

Reflecting on her musical inspiration, she said that “seeing others in the field who are more skilled than I am, and wanting to play at the level and difficulty that they do” has propelled her to a space where she actively wants to challenge herself. She said the satisfaction of mastery or progress of a piece is “unmatched” and “exhilarating.” 

Rebecca plans to continue her musical journey at the University of Chicago. “I hope to join some type of ensemble so that I can continue to play with others who share similar feelings as I do about music. If not that, I’ll at least be frequenting practice rooms on campus,” she said. “Music is a hobby for me, and I’d like to keep it that way.”

However, to any young musician who sees music as a hobby or something beyond, she says her best advice for getting through rough patches is to “remember why you started playing in the first place.”