- April 16, 2023
When Mariana Valderrama-Alvarez and her family moved to West Orange County before the school year started, the eighth-grader was hoping Ocoee Middle School would have an orchestra class so she could continue playing her violin.
This just so happens to be the first year that orchestra is offered at OMS, so the timing is perfect for Mariana, who has been playing the instrument since she was 5 years old.
What’s more, she has been selected to perform in the All-County Orchestra, set for 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12, at Cypress Creek High School in Orlando. And she is the first student from Ocoee Middle chosen for the honor.
“My teacher was so excited,” Mariana said. “She received an email and couldn’t wait until Monday (to tell me). She called my parents and said, ‘Yay, we passed!’ I’m so excited.”
“Mariana is a wonderful student,” Band Director Jennifer Brown said. “She was put in my orchestra class, and it was apparent she truly belonged there.”
Mariana’s family moved from Colombia, where her school offered a two-year program in which students take visual arts, music and dance classes. Following the two years, students then choose which fine arts program they want to pursue. Mariana joined the music program and has been studying the violin ever since.
She recently tried out for the All-County Orchestra through a blind audition.
“We sent in the audio, and we waited, like, what’s going to happen?” Mariana said.
“For the audition she had to know all of her scales, play a prepared exercise and sight-read,” Brown said. “The sight-reading piece was something she had never seen before. She got a few seconds to review it without playing and then played it for her audition. I had faith that she would do well and was happy when the results came out.”
Mariana has put in plenty of practice on each of the three songs she will play at the concert. She said she is grateful for Brown’s help.
“She has supported me a lot since the first day I got here, and she has been a great teacher,” Mariana said. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her.”
Brown said her student’s acceptance into the All County Orchestra is a great way to begin the new orchestra program at Ocoee Middle.
“I am really, really happy,” Mariana said.
She is the daughter of Luis Edwardo Valderrama and Liliana Alvarez, of Ocoee.
Contact Amy Quesinberry Rhode at [email protected]