Liberty High School doesn't have an orchestra, but 16-year old Alyssa Schor is content to play the clarinet in the marching band even though the violin is where her talent lies.
Liberty's band director, Michael Summers, knew this when he nominated Alyssa for the American High School Honors Performance Series, a program that brings talented musicians together in New York City each year for a seminar and an opportunity to perform at renowned Carnegie Hall.
''I really didn't get nervous until we walked on stage,'' Alyssa said. ''It didn't hit me until after, when we got to sit down in the audience and see the choir perform. Then I thought, wow, I played on that stage.''
Alyssa, the daughter of Neil and Harriet Schor, began taking lessons from Gina Bagnoli at the Jewish Community Center in Youngstown at the age of 4. She still studies with Bagnoli at least once a week and more often during recital season. Prior to the Carnegie Hall performance, Alyssa played primarily with groups at the center and she also performs with the Youngstown Symphony Youth Orchestra where she has moved little by little from the back section to her seat last year in the eighth chair in the first violin section.
''My goal for next year is to make the third or fourth chair,'' she said.
The orchestra, made up of more than 100 young musicians ages 13 to 18, holds concerts at Powers Auditorium.
Much of the music Alyssa plays is classical, although Bagnoli also has taught fiddle tunes, which the students often play during recitals. Bagnoli utilizes the Suzuki method of teaching, Alyssa said. The Suzuki method is named for Japanese violinist Shin'ichi Suzuki, who believed children can learn and understand music at an early age similar to the way they learn their native language.
When Summers nominated Alyssa in October 2009 for the American High School Honors Performance Series, she sent an audition tape to the directors and in mid-December last year, she received a letter stating she was chosen as an alternate. Not expecting to perform, it was just six-weeks later that she received a packet explaining a spot had opened and she only had to call and accept.
''After talking to others, I learned very few alternates get in,'' she said.
The concert consisted of three different pieces of Americana music, including variations of America the Beautiful, she said.
At the after-party following the concert, Alyssa was able to exchange information with some of her fellow performers and they hope to keep in touch.
Two days after her trip to New York, Alyssa was in Wisconsin for a Leadership Conference with the B'nai B'rith Youth Organization. Even though her musical talent got her to Carnegie Hall, Alyssa plans to pursue journalism after high school.
''It's (music) not my first choice,'' she said, ''but I want to keep it in my life.''
In addition to her music and participation in the B'nai B'rith Youth Organization, Alyssa plays tennis and is a reporter for the high school newspaper, ''The Leopard's Roar.''