Culver City Edition Local News

Middle school student to play with orchestra Feb. 16

CULVER CITY — The music program in the Culver City Unified School District has had a profound effect on Culver City Middle School student Hailey Gomberg and her family.

Not only did her parents, James (class of 1989) and Missy (Young) Gomberg (class of 1990), meet as young musicians in Culver City High School Marching Band, but at the age of 14, Hailey will take the stage at 3 p.m. Feb. 16, with the professionalCulver City Symphony Orchestra at theFrost Auditorium, playing the entire program with them. 

The Gomberg family is proof positive that a school-based music education can take you places. Hailey Gomberg started playing the violin as an El Marino Elementary School student in fourth grade, under the director of Andy Pascoe, four years ago.

“I fell in love with the instrument then,” she said, “and continued in the music program through fifth grade, entering Mr. Witt’s orchestral program in sixth grade at Culver City Middle School.”

Now in eighth grade, she is the concertmaster (lead violinist) in the Culver City Middle School Symphonic Strings and also plays regularly with Culver City High School’s AVPA Orchestra. 

How did she become so accomplished at the violin? Practice, practice, practice. 

Even though she takes zero period, most mornings she arrives at school even earlier to practice in the band room.

“Hailey always seems to have a violin in her hands and is practicing,” music teacher Paul Witt said. “She also composes music and generally shows a great deal of drive, confidence, and intelligence.”

In addition to the district’s elementary instrumental program, Gomberg was inspired by not only her parents, but her grandparents, too.

“My grandmother, who’s passed away, loved to hear me play,” Gomberg said. “I was inspired to keep playing for her. And now my grandfather continues to support my music.”

Hailey studied at the Colburn School and last summer won the concertmaster spot in its orchestra.

“She is constantly on the lookout for new challenges musically including many things that, typically, would be way beyond the abilities of other musicians her age,” Witt said. “Because of all of the above, and with the blessing of her teacher at Colburn, I suggested she contact our local Culver City Symphony Orchestra. The idea was, Hailey might be able to play in the orchestra and broaden her musical skills by being exposed to older, more experienced musicians in a professional setting.

“When a person, especially a young person, can take a collection of wood boxes, nylon strings, metal or wood tubing, or the other very pedestrian and common physical components of a musical instrument and, through the sheer force of their will, coax music out of them and touch other people’s hearts, they know there’s nothing they can’t accomplish with enough hard work and dedication.”

Besides a great choir program, Culver City Middle School also offers beginning, intermediate, and advanced classes in band and string instruments. All the classes, and all levels, are available to sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders, so it’s never too late to start.

Tickets for the Feb. 16 concert with the Culver City Symphony are $20 ($10 for students and members of the Southern California Symphony Society) and can be purchased at the Culver City Sympony’s website or by calling (310) 645-5961. 

Wave Staff Report