Howland graduate’s love of music travels to Prague | News, Sports, Jobs


Photo submitted Victoria Lewis, 19, of Howland, right, poses with fellow members of the World Association of Symphony Groups and Ensembles Youth Wind Orchestra from left, Anya Restivo of the USA, Grace Terry of the USA, Jonathan Forster from Germany, Sean McGinley from France, and Roisin Ni Dhonabhain from Ireland. Lewis, a 2020 graduate of Howland High School and entering Slippery Rock University, recently performed in the International Wind Ensemble in Prague, Czech Republic.

HOWLAND – Victoria Lewis, 19, recently returned from five days in Prague, Czech Republic, where she joined young musicians from around the world to perform with the World Association of Symphony Groups and Ensembles Youth Wind Orchestra – a great adventure for a music lover who has suffered many canceled performances and missed opportunities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You never know when an opportunity is going to present itself, and if you don’t take the ones that present themselves, you may never do it again.” said Lewis.

Lewis started playing the clarinet at a young age because her parents are woodwind players — her father, Timothy Lewis, plays the saxophone and her mother, Valerie Lewis, plays the flute, she said.

“I wanted to be different with the clarinet, and I fell in love with it,” said Lewis.

A 2020 graduate of Howland High School, Lewis’ final year was marred by the effects of the pandemic – long-awaited final concerts and performances were cancelled, including the Stambaugh Youth Concert Band performance in the spring of 2020. Lewis was playing with the band since eighth grade and won the coveted solo performance spot at the concert before finding out the show wouldn’t go on.

“It was what I looked forward to for, like, five years, so canceling it kinda sucks,” said Lewis.

Still, a pandemic couldn’t stop Lewis from pursuing music at Slippery Rock University, where she’s now an incoming junior studying to be a music teacher.

“To me, it feels like learning every instrument so that you can teach all instruments to all types of students,” said Lewis. “It was a rude awakening because I didn’t expect some instruments to be so difficult.”

She said the hardest instruments to learn were the string instruments, which involve a different kind of dexterity, and the French horn. His new favorite – besides the clarinet, of course – is the euphonium, a brass wind instrument similar to, but smaller than, a tuba. She sometimes plays the euphonium in her college bands.

Of course, learning instruments over video chat hasn’t been a cakewalk. Students can’t play with teachers because of the delay, and the stream is sometimes interrupted, Lewis said.

When wearing a mask or practicing via video, teachers also cannot see how students move their mouths, which is an integral part of learning certain instruments.

“COVID has been tough on the kids, and she’s made the most of it,” said Nancy Moore, Lewis’ longtime private clarinet teacher at home, who retired as a music teacher at Howland High School in 2009.

She said she is “very proud” of Lewis.

“She is very talented and she works hard” said Moore.

She noted that when Lewis was in sixth grade, she always wanted the last teaching slot of the night. Moore realized it was because Lewis wanted extra time to practice without another student waiting.

As the music world slowly returned to a pre-pandemic way of practicing and performing, Lewis was thrilled to discover the opportunity to perform in Prague. She auditioned and was accepted into the wind ensemble.

About 80 musicians between the ages of 18 and 26 from some 18 countries and four continents performed in the wind ensemble, Lewis said.

“It was amazing to see all the cultural differences and how everyone is connected through music. We all spoke the same language.

When she wasn’t training, Lewis explored Prague with her newfound friends. She had never been to Europe before the trip.

“The city is so old and has so much history. It’s so beautiful and just calm. It’s incredible,” said Lewis. “I had some of the best memories of Prague, but I was terrified to do it. I almost didn’t go because I was so scared.

His advice to anyone who loves music or has a big opportunity is “go for it.

“Especially music education – everyone needs music in their life. Why not be the person who inspires young minds?”



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