A Glimpse into the World of Classical Music

Spotlight on Abington sophomore Alex Gouthro

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Kristen Gouthro with permission

Alex Gouthro at the New England Conservatory in Boston in Spring on 2019.

Abington High Schools Alex Gouthro, a member of the Class of 2022, has been playing music for over eight years.  Through those eight years Gouthro has played over eighteen different instruments in more than ten different ensembles.  

During a usual week Alex has only two days off, playing music around 15 hours a week, not including band class. A normal rehearsal for him can range from 30 minutes to six hours. 

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Music has kind of brought me through everything. When I’m having tough times that is what I can go to”

— Alex Gouthro

  

Gouthro has played in some of the greatest music halls in New England, including Jordan Hall, Sanders Theatre at Harvard university, Boston University’s Performing Arts Center, and Symphony Hall.  

Gouthro began his musical journey in 2012 when he started learning piano at the Piano Mill in Rockland. The first song he remembered learning was a song from “High School Musical Two”. Though he is no longer taking lessons at the Piano MillGouthro has continued study of the piano 

In third and fourth Grade Gouthro began to play the trombone, though him and his family described it as a failed attempt. From there on he inherited a Glockenspiel (glaa·kuhn·shpeel) from a family friend and began to prosper in the school band. He has played a solo in almost every school concert, which you can watch on the Abington Cam Youtube channel. While in school Gouthro now plays the glockenspiel (glock), marimba, and various other percussion instruments. 

Kristen Gouthro with permission
Alex Gouthro at Jorden Hall during a New England Conservatory Concert in December of 2019

In 2017  Gouthro started taking private lessons at the South Shore Conservatory (SSC) for percussion, specifically the glockHis first concert outside of a school concert band was while taking lessons with SSC, Gouthro performed with a small ensemble. The following year Gouthro went to his first Summer Music Festival (SMF) at the SSC’s lower level group. The SMF is classified as a wind ensemble, which is a band made up of wind instruments and percussion. 

Gouthro’s freshman year, 2019, was a big year for his musical career. Gouthro began playing percussion for the Massachusetts Youth Wind Ensemble (MYWE) at the New England Conservatory (NEC). Gouthro was recommended for his spot in the orchestra by Mr. Michael Smith of Abington public schools, who had seen him perform at an Abington High School Christmas Concert. The piece he learned for that concert was the piece he ended up using to audition for NEC.  

Gouthro auditioned mid-year, so he was a bit behind in his understanding of the music. Gouthro said, “When I first got there, I was incredibly overwhelmed, by how much better [I felt] everyone was than me.” The rest of the ensemble had much more experience and many of them were older than him. Gouthro said there were a lot of different people and it was, at the time, the most professional setting he had performed in. He said “It was a little bit of a shock at first but then I began to really love it.” He said it greatly improved his musical abilities and maybe were his true musical drive became evident. 

 

February of freshman year Gouthro auditioned for SEMSBA. Which a program for talented middle and high school students, if they get in, they perform in a concertGouthro auditioned and was accepted into the senor level SEMSBA, which he said, “is a pretty big accomplishment.” Gouthro also said it is “difficult for freshman to get accepted [into the] upper level as it is generally reserved for Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors.  

Kristen Gouthro with permission
Alex Gouthro playing the chimes at Jordan Hall in a concert for the New England Conservatory in March of 2019.

In the spring of Gouthro’s freshman year he re-auditions for MYWE and got a scholarship that covered the entire cost of MYWE and the Youth Repertory Orchestra (YRO). Though Gouthro had never worked with string instruments before he took the opportunity to better his musical ability and to try a new thing. The music was completely different than what he was used too but he took it as a challenge to better himself. Gouthro said, “It was a huge step from me.”  He is still involved with YRO to this day.     

                                                              

That summer Gouthro performed in his second year at SMF, this time in the upper level group. SMF is a musical summer program for kids from seventh grade to college.  

A conductor, Janet Underhill, saw Gouthro perform at SMF and emailed his family to discuss and opening for him at the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra. 

Later that year he began playing percussion for the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra(BYSO).  

In September of 2019 Gouthro auditioned very unexpectedly for BYSOand said he was “extremely unorganized.” Gouthro was given less than two days to prepare and he had no idea what to expect. He didn’t know much about the orchestra when he was told about the audition. Gouthro said, “All I knew was that it would be a big deal, but I didn’t think it would be huge or anything.” The Boston Symphony Orchestra is a member of “The Big Five”, the top five orchestras in the country.  

Kristen Gouthro with Permission
Alex Gouthro playing the Marimba at the Summer Music Festival in 2019.

Gouthro said his audition was very unorganized but they must have seen something in him because not long after that he began playing with the Boston youth Symphony Orchestra. He was quite behind in learning the music because he entered an orchestra who had already been rehearsing for several months. Gouthro’s mother Kristen Gouthro said he stepped up and took on the challenge.  

Gouthro performed in five concerts between September and December of 2019. He learned 16 songs in that time.  

On January 26, 2020, BYSO performed the opera Aida by Verdi. The Boston Symphony Orchestra performs an opera every year. Gouthro said, “It is one of the most memorable parts about being in the orchestra.” BYSO is also the only youth orchestra in the country to perform a full-length opera. Other orchestras have performed pieces of music but usually avoid them because of their length. BYSO has welcomed the challenge they have opera singers and a beautiful sound to back them up. Gouthro said, “It’s a pretty big deal!”  

As a percussionist Alex plays in a very simple sense “basically anything you can hit”. Though specifically he has played mallet instruments such as the glockenspiel, which he began playing in grade 6, from there he began playing the marimba, xylophone, vibraphone. Other percussion instruments he has played include snare drum, bass drum, crash cymbals, suspended cymbalstimpani, the triangle, tambourine, the spoons, the washboard, chimes, brake drum (which is a real car part), and the crotales

Kristen Gouthro with permission
Alex Gouthro playing the Marimba at Jordan Hall during a New England Conservatory Concert in March of 2019.

His favorite instruments to play are the mallets, Gouthro said, “I started on the mallets, so they are close to me”. His best instrument is the triangle because he plays it so often, he said, “It doesn’t seem like [a challenging instrument] but there is more difficulty that its looks”. 

Gouthro has had a special connection with music throughout his life. Many of his family members also have a connection to music. Gouthro said, “[music] has kind of brought me through everything. When I’m having tough times that is what I can go to” which is why music is so close to him. 

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