Stockdale High School senior Michelle Stanley has scored a pretty impressive gig -- playing in an orchestra in New York's famed Carnegie Hall Feb. 10 as part of the 2013 American High School Honors Performance Series.
The series includes concerts by a band, a choir and an orchestra. A total of 470 high school students from the United States and four other countries is participating.
Stanley, 17, was notified in September that she had been selected to play her French horn in the series.
She had applied on a lark. Any student who has qualified for the All-State Music Festival, an honors program that draws performers from all over the state, is automatically invited to audition.
"I was like, 'Why not? It's Carnegie Hall. Cool,' " Stanley said. So she sent in the same tape she had submitted to get into All-State, and then forgot all about it until she received her letter of acceptance.
It's not her first trip to New York. An older sister attends Pace University, and Stanley is hoping she'll get a chance to visit while she's in the area.
Stanley was selected from among thousands of applicants to play and learn under the leadership of master conductors.
Jeffrey Grogan will conduct the orchestra. The students will play "Nabucco Overture Finale" by Giuseppe Verdi, "Symphony No. 5 IV allegro non troppo" by Shostakovich and "Dusk" by Steven Bryant.
Stanley's private music instructor, Lucy Adams, isn't surprised she made the cut.
"Her work ethic is phenomenal," she said.
Stanley doesn't come from a musical family. She was introduced to the discipline in sixth grade, when her school band assigned her a trumpet.
A year later, she switched to the French horn at the suggestion of Adams, who used to be her school music teacher.
"I didn't mind," Stanley said. "It was something new to try, so I was on board with it even though it was hard, at first. It's one of the more difficult instruments to play because of the mouthpiece size and the pitches. It's harder to hear and there's more of a range."
Stanley nevertheless found she had a knack for the instrument, and really enjoyed it.
She went on to successfully audition for several regional and state music honor programs, including the Kern County Superintendent of Schools office's "It's a Grand Night for Music" program staged Tuesday at Rabobank Convention Center.
Stanley wants to study civil engineering in college, but is looking for a university that also has a music program so she can continue playing.
"For me, it's a stress-reliever. Something that is not so bounded by restrictions," she said. "Music is a free-flowing form. You can do whatever you want with it. It's just your interpretation."
Her parents are stunned but proud of their daughter's musical trajectory.
"We don't know where all this talent is coming from," joked her mother, Marji Stanley. "If her teacher hadn't put a French horn in her hands, we would never have known."