Recently the Santa Margarita Elementary School String Quartet, comprised of 5th & 6th graders whom are all military kids and 2 wounded warrior children, competed at the Orange County School of Arts in the San Diego Band and Orchestra Association Music Festival & received the highest rating possible of Superior.

Their performance of a classical rendition of The Marine Corps Hymn was nothing short of amazing & the likes that no one has ever heard before in such a beautiful way. The girls would like nothing more to continue to perform together at other venues, events and competitions in the area & plan to their musical aspirations. If you have an event or venue you’d like them to perform at please contact Mr. Steven Traugh, music specialist @ Cell (760) 533-3332.

Please see the information that the music teacher, Mr. Steven Traugh sent about the unique Quartet:

1. From left to right in the picture what art the girls’ names?

Nevaeh Castillo – Viola (6th grade)
Melaina Brown – Violin (6th grade)
Amber Castillo – Cello (5th grade)
Natalia Gonzalez – Violin (6th grade)

2. Is it uncommon to have a quartet at this age level?

It is very rare to have a string quartet at this age level,
especially in a public school setting. They may well be the only 5th-6th
grade string quartet in San Diego County. The quartet members were the
youngest students competing at the festival. The judge who graded them
at a Superior level to the girls that if he had closed his eyes he would
have thought high school musicians were performing. Every school in our
district has talented music students. It just so happens at Santa
Margarita we were fortunate to have exactly the right mix to form a
string quartet – two violinists, a violist and a cellist. We meet every
Wednesday after school to rehearse for an hour.

3. How and why did you decide to compose the music?

There is very little music available that is written for a beginning
string quartet. Since coming to Santa Margarita 3 years ago, I have come
to appreciate what it means to be a military family living on base – the
challenges and sacrifices they face every day. I had been wanting to do
some special patriotic music dedicated to these families. We needed
music that would show off the talents of the girls and I was inspired to
compose “Variations on the Marines’ Hymn.”

4. How long did it take for them to learn the piece?

It took 2 weeks, which was exactly the length of time we had before
performing at the festival. We rehearsed every weekday of Spring Break
and several times the following week. We had been practicing another
piece for a couple of months, but it really didn’t show off the group in
a way that would be impressive at a music festival designed for middle
and high school students. I began composing the music on Friday night of
the first weekend of Spring Break and finished it just in time to
rehearse the following Monday afternoon. The kids (and their parents)
weren’t sure if we could get it ready in time, but I was confident they
would be able to master it for the festival.

5. Is there anything else you can tell me about the performance?

The festival was held at the Orange County School of the Arts in Santa
Ana. The girls got to experience performing in the school’s beautiful
Symphony Hall with its great acoustics. There were several competing
high school performers and high school music directors in the audience
when the girls performed. They went out of their way to seek me out in
the parking lot to say how impressed they were with such a young quartet
who could play with such maturity. Due to winning a Superior rating the
group will perform next at the Southern California Band and Orchestra
Association’s regional festival on May 4th.



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Military Press

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