HomeArtsCarmel High’s talented instrumentalists play their way to the top

Carmel High’s talented instrumentalists play their way to the top

Published April 2, 2024


From playing as first chair trombone in the California All-State Ensemble to being commissioned for cello performances across Monterey Peninsula, talented CHS instrumentalists play at the top of their fields both inside and outside of school, with potential careers in music on the horizon for many.

Consisting of both orchestra and band, the CHS music program encompasses a variety of different programs and classes. With committed instrumentalists having the opportunity to participate in classes such as Concert Band and Jazz Workshop as well as take part in a variety of extracurricular programs including Pep Band, CHS musicians have the ability to pursue their passions at the top levels.

Junior Lillian Mendez plays in the CCS string orchestra earlier this year. (courtesy of LILLIAN MENDEZ)

“Their commitment doesn’t extend to me, it extends to each other,” says CHS music teacher Brian Handley, who oversees almost all of the various instrumental pursuits available to students at Carmel High. “They’re like members of a team, and the commitment of time to music depends on how many things they’re involved in.”

Developing the skills they need to be successful through the school music program, many of CHS’ most talented music students expand their pursuits outside of school. Among those performing at the top of their musical field is junior David Elyoussoufi, who plays for Youth Music Monterey, a local youth orchestra, while also being active in solo and chamber performances as well as competitions, from the local to state level.

“Seeing progress helped inspire me to continue,” says Elyoussoufi, who hopes to pursue music in college, ideally through a double major. “It’s something I want to keep pursuing even if it doesn’t pan out to be a career.”

As one of the top trombone players in Monterey County, senior Isabella Davi has proven her musical prowess both inside and outside of school. Earning the position of first chair trombone in the California All-State Band, requiring a grueling audition process, Davi is a member of a brass ensemble that performs for nonprofit organizations such as Christmas in the Adobes and the Tor House Foundation. The varsity athlete has hopes of pursuing music after graduation, whether that be as a double major in college or as a hobby with friends.

A talented trombone player with hopes of pursuing music after graduation, senior Isabella Davi plays in the CCS Honor Band this fall. (courtesy of ISABELLA DAVI)

Also hoping to pursue music throughout college and beyond is junior Lillian Mendez, a talented and multi-faceted musician.

“After I graduate I plan on majoring in music performance and continuing musical theater in some way,” says the orchestra vice president, who hopes to become an orchestra conductor, perform in professional orchestras and act in theater and film. “Anything in the performing arts I can worm myself into I plan to do.”

From her first introduction to the cello in fourth grade, Mendez has pursued any available outlet for her musical talents, from playing cello in YMM to participating in the Monterey Jazz Festival. One of her primary musical pursuits takes the form of the professional cello duet she created alongside fellow cello player senior Olivia Bartle, known as Rose Cello Duo. Created in early 2023, the talented cello players are commissioned to perform at a variety of events, including one of their most recent performances at a wedding in January as well as the opening of the Schumann HeartHouse center, the first homeless shelter in Monterey.

Another standout in the CHS orchestra program, Bartle is a five-year member of YMM and was one of the first CHS musicians to make it into the California Orchestra Directors Association’s Honor String Orchestra, performing at Stanford this past December. 

Senior Olivia Bartle (left) and Emily Kim (right) were among the first cello players to be accepted into the California Orchestra Directors Association’s honors string orchestra this December. (photo by MARGARITA BARTLE)

“Now, I think more students will be auditioning for CODA,” says the orchestra music student council president, “after seeing that kids from their school made it into the program and previously thinking it was unattainable.”

The talent within the CHS music program is in no way limited to the upperclassmen, with a number of freshmen demonstrating a large amount of potential. The only other CHS student to be accepted into CODA this year was freshman Emily Kim, the first chair violin player for YMM. As a principal for the orchestra, Kim leads the violin section, whether that be physically through cues or by writing notes on the music, the long-time musician says. 

Yet another high performing CHS musician is senior Giada Scattini, who has been playing clarinet for 13 years along with the saxophone and bass clarinet. As a member of Pep Band, Jazz Band, Concert Band and Pit Orchestra, the instrumental group that plays for school musicals, Scattini hopes to major in music education with the eventual goal of becoming a music educator. 

“Music is the one way we can all connect as humans,” says Scattini, who volunteers at youth orchestras across Monterey County to teach children about music, “no matter where we come from or the languages we speak.”


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