Fine arts students showcase their talents


Nadia Tourjman

Alice Zhang (12) has a passion for piano and recently played for the Turkish Consulate General.

Alice Zhang

Her heart filled with excitement when she received the news of a paid opportunity that allowed her to share her love for music to someone from across the world.

While being one of many talented violinists playing for VHHS’s orchestra program, Alice Zhang (12) was given the opportunity to play the piano for the Turkish Consulate General.

For the past couple of years, Zhang was a part of Midwest Young Artist Conservatory, a music program in Chicago where she was able to develop her talent and passion for piano. Despite resigning from the program due to her busy schedule, one of her directors knew just how talented and hardworking she was and recommended her to play for the Turkish Consulate General.

“The experience of playing for the Turkish Consulate General was definitely very unique,” Zhang said. “It was really cool to work with the composer, and it was a good experience to play Turkish music.”

In the beginning, sharing her talent in an auditorium filled with strangers and a handful of judges got the best of her. But as Zhang got older, her professor encouraged her to focus more on making music than impressing those judges. This is how her passion for piano really started to develop.

“I grew up just constantly competing and obviously you can’t win all of them, so it’s pretty hard on your confidence, but my professor focused more on enjoying music than trying to win every single competition,” Zhang said.

One of Zhang’s big influencers was her professor for piano. She has been working with this professor since she was four years old and has admired him ever since. At first, she didn’t really realize how great her professor was, until she started to learn more about making music and realized the difficulties of moving someone with your own music.

“I look up to my professor,” Zhang said. “His personality and way of teaching really opened up my eyes to what music really is.”

From finding motivation to practice to getting over her stage fright, Zhang had to overcome several obstacles to get to where she is today. One of her favorite parts about the piano is getting feedback from her audience.

“The moment after a performance when I see the audience enjoying my music is the best part of all; that moment when I realize I can spread my love for piano is one of the best things about playing it,” Alice shared.


Jillian Boes

As she stands on top of the risers with her fellow singers spreading their gift of music to people from across the country, Jillian Boes (12) stays humble and works hard everyday to get better at what she loves.

Boes is a member of VHHS’s Concert Choir, Chamber Choir, Red Rose Children’s Choir and Illinois All-state Choir. Being a part of All-State gave her the privilege to audition for All-National Choir. This year, she was given the opportunity to perform with All-National Choir.

“It was just a big camp of high school choir nerds, and it was just so much fun,” Boes said.

At a young age of three, Boes started playing the piano and discovered her passion for music. When Boes was in sixth grade, one of her friends invited to join Red Rose Children’s choir. During her first year, she was able to perform in front of the regional American Choral Directors Association(ACDA) Convention, and she’s been in love with choral ever since.

“I really loved Red Rose. I was in middle school choir, and I loved how they held us up to really high standards. To me, that was really motivational,” Boes shared.

Boes really enjoyed being with people and a part of something incredible. But as a singer, there were times when she would feel emotional because her voice wasn’t good enough or someone else had a better voice than her. For her, each little improvement gave her the motivation to practice even more.

“Everytime that I saw myself improving I wondered, ‘what if I practice more, where would I be?’ So I just kept going and before I realized it, I was teaching other kids to get better,” Boes said.

Boes is planning to major in music education and become a high school choir director. Currently, Mr. Little is sometimes letting her teach VHHS’s Treble Choir and eventually teaching them a song to perform.

“I’m really lucky that he was able to give me this experience,” Boes shared.

This summer, Boes attended the Summer Vocal Institute at Westminster Choir College, a summer camp in Princeton New Jersey, where students from across the nation come to learn about music and collaborate with other students.

“It was two weeks of just amazing music being created by amazing people, and it was so focused on being there for each other as a family,” Boes shared.

For Jillian, one of her favorite parts about being in choir is getting to meet new people and creating music with them.

“There’s really nothing like making music with a bunch of people. That feeling you get once you get that one difficult part of the song and you all realize it together is just incredible,” Boes said.


Bobby Black

As he sits in a practice room recording a solo that will determine his fate to play it live or not, Bobby Black (12) strives to be the best tuba player he can be.

Black is in the school band and other organizations outside of school such as the Chicago Symphony Youth Orchestra. For the past couple of years, he has been consistently competing and recently won the Falcone Little Brass competition.

“Being in direct competition and seeing how well they are doing just kept me going,” Black shared.

Black actually started on the piano when he was four years old. He didn’t start playing the tuba until he was nine. He shared his passion with his friends and family.

“My godfather played the tuba and left me a small one, and I started from there and I really got into it,” Black shared.

For Black, there was only one way to get better; practice, practice and practice. Putting in the dedication and the time to practice everyday was a struggle, but making those hours mean something was the true challenge.

“A struggle that I had last year was getting stuck in a routine trying to record the number of hours that I practiced instead trying to actually practice well,”Black explained. “I practiced three hours a day, but none of that was good practicing so it didn’t really matter that much.”

The idea of competing might be daunting at first, but Black sees it as opportunity to get to know his competition on a different level.

“I get to know my competition a lot more than other instruments might because there might be a few less players but there is also a few less spots,” Black shared.

Even though Black has been focused on competing, the tuba is his way of developing his passion for music.

“The tuba is my way of expressing music, and even if I wasn’t playing the tuba, I would probably be playing a different instrument. It’s just the fact that tuba is what I am best at,” Black said.