Playing Alongside Pacific Symphony


Sitting first chair in the clarinet section for one of the largest orchestras formed in the United States in the last 50 years, Diamond Bar High School junior Aaron Chang has received the opportunity to play alongside an array of talented musicians in the Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra. 

Spurred on by his parents, Chang began his music journey as a pianist. However, inspired by his brother’s clarinet skills and his growing distaste for piano, he picked up the instrument in fifth grade. 

“My parents believed that music was really important and wanted to get me into it at a young age,” Chang said via Discord. “They encouraged me to play piano, but I found myself investing more time into learning the clarinet.” 

In order to maintain his level of proficiency in the instrument, Chang’s practice schedule consists of an hour-long rehearsal on weekdays and at least two hours-worth of practice on weekends. His routine is composed entirely of fundamentals, only deviating from this when there are upcoming events.

“The music that I practice depends on what events are upcoming,” he said.  “I’ll prepare the specific pieces that the competition requires me to play. If there’s no upcoming events then I’ll practice the basics like long tones and scales.”

Along with his daily practice, Chang attends Pacific Symphony’s weekly Sunday rehearsals. According to Chang, the main benefit behind participating in such a group  is the opportunity to learn with other talented players. 

“The reason I joined was to play alongside really great players. I think that surrounding yourself with great players lets you improve a lot faster,” Chang said. “It’s also a great way to gain valuable experience in an orchestra environment, which is really different from playing in an ensemble.”

Chang’s triumphs in the world of music don’t just end at his inclusion in the Pacific Symphony. Under the guidance of Dr. Michael Yoshimi, he has managed to be a part of the All State Honor Band for the past four years and the All Southern Honor Band for the past five years. He has also received first place for all Wind in the Southwestern Youth Music Festival, first place in the Great Composer International Competition and 2nd in the IGMC & Enkor International Competition. 

Despite how time consuming his involvement in music has been, Chang still celebrates his successes and anticipates his commitment to music reaping benefits in his future.

“Even if it takes a lot of time, I think that taking part in these groups [is] going to benefit me in the long run and [it’ll] let me meet a lot of new people that share the same passion for music as me.”