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50 Years of Alumni: Elena Kolbrek

College(s)/University attended:
University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University

What years were you in GTCYS?
I was in GTCYS 2007-2012 and 2014-2015. I graduated in 2015!

What skills or lessons did you learn in GTCYS that you still use today?
GTCYS rehearsals were the first opportunities I had in preparing my part for orchestra. As I still perform in orchestras now, I know that the foundations Ms. Barbara Flooding gave me in orchestral etiquette still encourage me today.

Why do you think GTCYS is important for students now?
Being a member of an orchestra of any level requires discipline, preparation, professionalism, respect, and interpersonal skills. All of these aspects of personal development will positively impact any student’s path in whatever they do. GTCYS does an excellent job embracing these values and giving the students experiences which allow them to explore and grow within the framework of youth orchestra.

How does music still play a part in your life?
Music is my livelihood and my way of life! I teach violin in private lessons and group settings, and I perform in a number of orchestras and ensembles in Georgia. The joy and community I experienced as a young person also inspired me to be a founding member of a non-profit called the Samuel Vargas International Music Foundation, whose mission is to enrich communities and society with the power of classical music and creative education. Our team works to increase the access of music education for students in 24 countries around the world, especially through the use of online platforms.

What is your favorite composer or piece of music?
A piece that has been a favorite for a while is the Korngold String Sextet. One of my favorite composers is Bach, especially his unaccompanied works for solo instruments.

What’s a fun fact about yourself?
One year my mom submitted my GTCYS fun fact, saying I loved cleaning my room in my free time.

What do you hope to see from GTCYS in the next 50 years?
I want to continue seeing the formation of student leaders within GTCYS. I hope to see GTCYS students who graduate and go out in the world use their unique gifts and passions with what they have learned and experienced to make the lives of those around them better.

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