Local student chosen for National Honors Orchestra

By Gary Alan Ruse….

Santiago J. Olaguibel is pictured with his double bass.

Santiago J. Olaguibel, 16, a resident of Palmetto Bay, has accomplished something few music students achieve, a place with the National High School Honors Orchestra (NHSHO).

A junior at Coral Reef Senior High School, Olaguibel will participate with the NHSHO at the ASTA National Conference in Atlanta, GA, Mar. 21- 24, 2012. NHSHO is a performing group of 120 competitively selected high school musicians who assemble biennially to perform. His parents are Maryann and Santiago Olaguibel.

Originally from New York, he and his family have lived in Palmetto Bay for the past five years. His mother is understandably proud of her son and his accomplishments.

“Santiago was selected by video and audio audition with two classical pieces,” Maryann Olaguibel said. “The second piece was left to the musician’s discretion. They were the Dragonetti in A Major First Movement and Telemann Fourth Movement in A Minor. Only eight bassists nationwide were selected.”

Even before this latest achievement, Santiago has been an All-State participant for four consecutive years and is ranked one of the best bassists in Florida. When he learned of the NHSHO competition he had to try for it.

“It was recommended to me through my private teacher,” Santiago said. “Making it into nationals was one of my main goals this year, something I was really looking forward to, and I had my fingers crossed.

“I’ve been preparing for a long time. Making something like this is really big for me. I’ll travel up to Atlanta, GA, and we will have to compete with the other students that were selected. We’re already all part of it, but we’re going to be ranked on a narrow selection once we get up there. So it will be like a competition within the competition.”

Because of the size of the instrument, traveling by plane is not really an option, according to his mom.

“Since he’s a double-bass player, we have to drive, so we have to leave here on Mar. 20, and there are rigorous rehearsals,” Maryann Olaguibel said. “The performance is on the 23rd.”

Santiago, who will be 17 by the time of the performance in Atlanta, was authorized to participate by Alan Hudson, the orchestra director at Coral Reef High. His private teacher, Brian Powell, professor of Double Bass and String Music Education, University of Miami Frost School of Music, prepared Santiago for the nationals.

“I think this will be really great for college especially, since it’s about that time that I’m getting ready,” Santiago said. “This particular competition was for classical, strictly, but I’m also extremely into the digital and also have a jazz band of my own that I started last year. We all came out of one of the UM camps.”

The band he co-founded, in which he plays bass, is the Blue Money Jazz. The group was selected as winner of the inaugural Young Talent Big Dream 2011 Contest of instrumental group with vocals category, a contest sponsored by the Children’s Trust Foundation and the Actors’ Playhouse in Coral Gables.

His band performed on Sept. 20 at the Whole Foods next to the Shops of Sunset Place for radio station WDNA (88.9 FM) as a fundraiser to support live music.

Santiago is certain about his future goals and direction in life.

“Music is most definitely something I would love to go into, whether it’s writing or performing,” he said.

Information about Santiago’s group can be found on Facebook under “Blue Money Jazz Sextet” and information about ASTA can be found at www.asta.web.

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