A Musical Legacy: BTHS Symphonic Orchestra


Brooklyn Tech’s first-ever symphonic orchestra debuted on April 27th at the Small Ensemble & Piano Recital. Just before concertmaster Sara Matsumoto (‘25) could join her fellow musicians on stage, clouds of dust and cement rained down from the auditorium’s ceiling, surprising the club and audience and making the night even more memorable.

Despite this unexpected disruption, the show went on. BTHS Symphonic Orchestra opened the night with their first song: Leroy Anderson’s Sandpaper Ballet. Its light and cheerful sounds set a lively atmosphere and incorporated a unique sandpaper soli, a whole section’s solo, to contribute grainy and playful percussion.

Sandpaper Ballet was one of the first songs that inspired Jacky Lin (‘23) and Reina Kondo (‘23) to co-found BTHS Symphonic Orchestra in the fall of 2022. Hoping to expand the musical opportunities at Brooklyn Tech, Lin and Kondo brainstormed ideas to bring instruments from band and strings together. The club formed soon after, with support from music teachers Mr. Tasopoulos (orchestra), Mr. Withers (band), and Ms. Revi (chorus).

Lin takes pride in what he and Kondo have accomplished, as he “hopes to spread the message that it’s not just teachers who can do something meaningful.” Their leadership has allowed Tech musicians to improve their skills, meet new friends, and have fun.

For freshman percussionist, Wahaj Sanaullah (‘26), social life at Tech was hard to navigate at first, but he was able to find a close community of musicians through the Symphonic Orchestra.
“Everyone was really friendly. It might have been awkward at first, but we opened up,” Sanaullah explained.

According to Kondo, the club also “gave the music department an official orchestra with all three branches of music”: strings, chorus, and band. Because of the curriculum’s focus on traditional or classical songs, she believes the club is an opportunity for students to play “those nice tunes you hear in movies and TV shows that regular music classes wouldn’t play.” The result is an eclectic collaboration of students all eager to explore new musical grounds.

Flutist Ameera Rahman (‘23) was among the club members who were able to experience a new side of music by playing with string instruments. “My entire flute career has been with other woodwind instruments, so it was a whole new journey for me,” she explained.

Trumpeter Kenneth Odeyemi (‘25) and percussionist Byron Luong Tang (‘24) became team players to improve the club’s performance. All of Odeyemi’s free time went to the club to ensure its success at the recital.

“I based my personal life around all the clubs I’m in. I usually spend my time practicing for my clubs and I adapt to them,” Odeyemi reflected. Not only is he a trumpet player for BTHS Symphonic Orchestra, but he also participates in Brass Ensemble, Junior Jazz Band, and Wind Ensemble.

Luong Tang also displayed dedication through his focus and reliability. “I made sure that, even if I missed a meeting, I knew what was going on. I made sure that whenever they needed me I was there,” he emphasized.

Luong Tang’s commitment to BTHS Symphonic Orchestra also includes hopes to improve it as it enters its second year.

“Working on pieces that everyone enjoys would be a great idea. Some of our pieces were very challenging, and some musicians don’t like super challenging pieces,” Luong Tang acknowledged. As a result, he would like to see more unanimous song decisions so that “everyone can feel good about them.”

After 16 performances by other student ensembles and soloists, BTHS Symphonic Orchestra closed the night with three highlight songs: John Powell’s Test Drive from the movie “How To Train Your Dragon,” Leroy Anderson’s The Waltzing Cat, and Ennio Morricone’s Ecstasy of Gold from the movie “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” These three songs marked the recital’s phenomenal ending, showcasing the musicians’ true passion and months of tireless preparation.

BTHS Symphonic Orchestra is a new opportunity for musicians at Brooklyn Tech. As all its hard work paid off in fantastic performances that brought the house (or ceiling) down, the club will surely continue to be full of surprises moving forward.