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Westwood Horizon

The student news site of Westwood High School.

Westwood Horizon

The student news site of Westwood High School.

Westwood Horizon

Orchestra President Riya Patil Endeavors to Connect Organization

Courtesy of Riya Patil
Riya Patil ’24 serves as the president of Westwood Orchestra. With this being her third year on the officer team, Patil has prioritized building a comforting community within the program. “I want people to just be comfortable with where they are in their musical journey and just be supportive of each other,” Patil said.

Thunderous applause greets the Westwood Symphony orchestra as they take their places on the stage of the Raymond E. Hartfield Performing Arts Center (PAC). Before the conductor walks on stage, Riya Patil ‘24 greets the audience with a few opening remarks about the concert and the repertoire being performed. After her speech, Patil takes her seat. With a flick of the baton, the show begins, and the auditorium resonates with the sounds of Patil’s violin woven throughout the sounds of her fellow musicians’ instruments.

An integral part of the orchestra program, Patil serves as this year’s president after serving as an officer for two years prior.

Patil’s introduction to the world of music began at a young age when her younger brother began violin lessons.

“I basically begged my mom to let me play violin too,” Patil said. “I’ve always liked music since I was little, but since second grade I’ve been taking violin lessons.”

Entering high school during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Patil’s journey as a musician continued, where she witnessed the officer team at work.

“I would watch videos of the officers at the time or in previous years,” Patil said. “All the stuff they were doing looked like so much fun.”

Despite the challenges of beginning high school virtually, Patil realized her passion for leadership and resolved to become a leader in the program.

“[The officers] had such a strong bond,” Patil said. “It made me want to contribute to that and contribute to making orchestra feel like a family.”

After two years of strenuous work as an officer where she worked to step out of her comfort zone, Patil was chosen to be president. In her current role, Patil is involved with all things orchestra both in and out of the orchestra room. With weekly officer meetings and three committees to oversee, she is committed to making her community more collaborative and open.

“We try to make the meetings collaborative, so everyone can share ideas,” Patil said. “We want to let [orchestra traditions] continue but also be open to trying new things.”

The orchestra community is home to many traditions, such as the annual section poster social and Secret Santa gift exchange. Another esteemed tradition is Orchlympics: the orchestra program’s most unique event and Patil’s favorite tradition. Orchlympics is a way for orchestra members to make new friends outside of their own orchestras and get to know their community better.

“It was so cool to see everyone having fun,” Patil said. “[Everyone] was laughing and talking to somebody that they had probably never met before in their entire high school career, and they didn’t have that barrier of being afraid to reach out to people they didn’t know before.”

Community building is of the utmost importance to Patil and the leadership team as a whole, and every orchestra event is tailored to promote a sense of community and togetherness.

“We really care about making people feel included and bridging the gap between different orchestras,” Patil said. “We reflect on [connectedness] and take that as our mission.”

Reaching out and connecting with fellow musicians is also one of Patil’s highest priorities, despite the competitive atmosphere prevalent in the orchestra program. With intense auditions for orchestra placement, solos, and the Region and All-State orchestras, many students are scared to play out in their orchestras due to fear of being judged. Patil hopes to leave her mark on the orchestra program by dispelling that fear and creating a more comfortable environment for orchestra members.

“The mark I want to leave is having people be more comfortable in sharing their music and sharing their interests with the people around them,” Patil said. “I want people to just be comfortable with where they are in their musical journey and just be supportive of each other.”

In the spirit of this goal, Patil endeavors to be approachable and not let her position discourage connectivity in the community.

“I don’t want it to be an intimidating position,” Patil said. “I would like it so that any member of the community can reach out with suggestions, feedback, questions, anything like that, and bring their concerns to me.”

While she has had a large impact on the orchestra program at Westwood, orchestra in turn has impacted Patil and helped her become who she is today.

“[Orchestra] has really helped me grow as a person,” Patil said. “It’s given me a lot more exposure and comfort knowing that at the end of the day, we’re all the same inside — we all just want to have fun, make music, and make friends.”

Both inside and outside of the orchestra community, Patil feels that music can bring people together regardless of who they are.

“Orchestral music can be for anyone,” Patil said. “When we take advantage of all [the music] that there is in the entire world, or even just one instrument, there is so much music that is there to be made.”

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About the Contributor
Avi Rajesh
Avi Rajesh, Reporter
Class of 2025
Hi! I've always loved photo and video editing, and I'm super excited to be a part of student press. A couple of my hobbies involve cooking, baking, and robotics. In my free time I love to listen to music, play the cello, and drink bubble tea!

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    Omkar PatilDec 26, 2023 at 10:39 am

    Great article