Gettin' to Know CYO: Meet Kate Serbinowski!

Senior Kate Serbinowski is really good at video games, can't help but giggle when her family's youngest dog excitedly wiggles and says her mom makes the best chicken fettuccine. Get to know this phenomenal clarinetist by reading her interview & pressing play on her playlist, which includes Bowie, alt-J, Simon & Garfunkel and more! 



If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
As long as I'm near family it doesn't matter to me, but I'd prefer it if there wasn't as much snow!

What is one of your favorite pieces of clarinet music?
I don't even know, I just love it all so much. Right now I'm working on Weber's concertino though and I'm having a lot of fun with it.

What makes you laugh the most?
Probably my youngest dog. He does this really funny thing where he cries and wiggles around every time he sees you, even if the last time you saw each other was only a few minutes ago. He does a lot of silly stuff but I think that's my favorite.

What is one talent you have that most people might not know?
I don't know if this counts as a talent but I'm kind of obsessed with video games and I'm really good at them, like with solving puzzles and defeating bosses which is why I suggested we do a video game music concert last year. I'm pumped we're actually doing it, it's like a dream come true. So if gaming is a talent I'd say I'm pretty talented!

What's your favorite family recipe?
I'm not sure if it's a family recipe but my mom makes this really good chicken fettuccine that everyone loves.

If CYO had a bring a friend to rehearsal day, who would you bring and why?
We got to bring a friend to a movie night in CYO for our Fear concert last year and I brought my older sister Emily. It was a lot of fun because it was like I got to introduce her to my world and the people in it, and I don't get to see her too often so it was nice to spend time together. So I'd probably bring her again.

If you could join any past or present music group, which would you choose?
Not really any. I have a lot of bands I love but I think they're all perfect how they are so I'm happy just being a listener. If it counts I'd join CYO again after I graduate if I could though!

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Hopefully healthy with a family and my dogs and a nice, sunny house. I want to be recording the music for movies and video games as my career. But I suppose even if it doesn't work out exactly the way I want now, as long as I'm happy it doesn't really matter what I'm doing.

If you could give your six year-old self a piece of advice, what would you tell her?
Join CYO earlier, and stop letting other people's opinions dictate how you live your life.

Kate's got you covered with good tunes from artists like Crash Test Dummies, alt-J, Simon & Garfunkel & more! Give her playlist a spin right here: 

Gettin' to Know CYO: Meet Aviva Klein!

Senior Aviva Klein wishes teleportation was possible, can't get over the cancellation of her favorite television show, Firefly, and thinks you really ought to get Pigpen Theatre Co. in your ears, stat! This talented bassoonist has included them in her playlist, so press play and get to know her as you read her interview.





What drew you to the bassoon?

The bassoon has a beautiful sound. It has a ridiculously large range for a woodwind instrument and each octave has its own resonance. I don't remember exactly when I decided I wanted to play, but I remember not starting on bassoon in fourth grade, because it was taller than me. 

What is your favorite television show?

Firefly, hands down. I'm forever upset that it got cancelled. Battlestar Galactica is probably a close second. 

Do you like to read? (if so, what's one book you strongly suggest?)

I love to read! And I live down the street from the library, so that's great. (Or terrible, when I should be doing homework.) The book I've been suggesting recently is Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. It's an amazingly woven story, and the writing is beautiful.

What is one invention you wish existed that does not yet?

Teleporting would be pretty cool. Time travel would probably cause too many problems.

What is one of the best lessons you've learned from playing on CYO?

There are many quotes scribbled down in my music from things that have been said during rehearsals, like "Life is an art museum," but I think the first and best thing that CYO taught me is that music isn't about perfection. It's about being human, and it's about caring. In my opinion, if you play what's written on the page perfectly but don't care about the notes or what's behind them, you're not doing it right, and I think I've also applied this to everything in life. It's a hard thing to do, but what's the point of doing anything if you're not going to look at it critically and compassionately and put in effort (or decide it's not worth it)?

What is one thing you think should be taught in school that is not currently?

More than thinking there's something that's not taught that should be, I think we need to change the way we teach things. For one, sex education, when present, is usually terrible. Kids need to know how their bodies work, and that both wanting and not wanting sexual things is perfectly okay. Also, in core subjects, there is much more weight on test scores and grades than actual learning. 

If you could only listen to one band for the rest of your life, who would you choose?

Does the Cleveland Orchestra count? Hm. I might have to say either Pigpen Theatre Co. or Beirut. They're both innovative and different, and have a variety of styles. Pigpen has banjos and an accordion, obviously a plus, and they also put on theater productions, hence the name. Beirut has an interesting style and has used a smattering of brass instruments, which is pretty cool.

How has music changed your life?

I can't pinpoint a time that music came into my life and changed it, because I've never had a life void of music. Even so, music has always allowed me to connect with people on a level that words don't facilitate. Whether it's listening to a good piece or song together, playing with someone, listening to someone play, or playing to someone, there's this fascinating expression of art and recreative art and emotion and intimacy. 

Gettin' to Know CYO: Meet Alex Figueroa!

Senior Alex Figueroa loves Chicago, would happily be a Jedi and nearly played the violin. Check out the principal violist's interview and playlist, which includes Styx, Bowie, Green Day and more!



If you were to play a wind instrument, what would you choose?
I would have to say contrabassoon because it is so low. Whenever someone in an orchestra plays a note on the contrabassoon, I'm pretty sure it registers a small earthquake.

What drew you to viola?
When I was trying out instruments in 5th grade, I was actually drawn to the violin (which is very sad to admit), but then as I was trying the violin, the teacher noticed I was already on a full size violin in 5th grade to which she responded, "You're too tall for violin. Try viola." I'm very happy that she ended up giving me that advice because I fell in love with the sound of the viola. Plus, a violin looks like a toy when I hold it.

If you had a time machine, where would you go?
If I had a time machine, I would probably go 50 years into the future to 2066. I'm always looking ahead in life, and while the 1790s in Germany and Austria seem pretty cool, they didn't have plumbing, and I don't think I'd be able to pull off a powdered wig. But the future would be exciting and eventful. I would be able to see where we've gone as a society and how all the conflicts of today affected the future, especially in the Middle East and even in our own country. Plus hopefully Donald Trump would be irrelevant by that point. Although with all of those positives, it could be scary if there were some type of robot takeover.

What is one of your favorite childhood memories?
I would say one of my best childhood memories was the first time I went to Chicago. I was about 9 years old. While I was there, I was able to see Yo Yo Ma perform live with the Chicago Symphony which was one of the main events that got me thinking about playing a string instrument. On top of that, I loved the life in a big city which still holds true today. It was all around a great experience. Plus, Chicago pizza is superb.

Why would you tell someone to audition for CYO?
Auditioning for CYO has probably been one of the best decisions I've made. It's an amazingly talented group, and everyone comes to rehearsal ready to learn which is awesome. On top of that, we have played some pretty awesome gigs. What other high school group is there that can say that they have played with Graham Nash, Cleveland Pops, Styx, and more? Then probably the aspect of CYO that I love the most is the environment. Everyone is positive, respectful, kind, and really fun. It makes the time put into rehearsal very enjoyable, and it has helped me build teamwork skills. Every musician should audition for CYO.

What is the best piece of advice you've received?
My mom has always told me that as long as you work hard and treat people nicely, things will always work out no matter what.

If you could live in a book, TV show or movie, what would it be?
This is really nerdy, but I would want to be a Jedi in Star Wars. Wouldn't everyone? The concept of using the force to move objects, save the galaxy, and wield a lightsaber on a daily basis is really cool.

When you were a little kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Until I was about 12 years old, I wanted to be an astronaut. Then I wanted to be a broadcast journalist reporting for ESPN. When I was a freshman, I decided I wanted to be a music teacher, and I am now going to major in Music Education when I go to college.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
In 5 years I hope to be an orchestra director at the high school level. That would be a dream job for me.

Check out Alex's playlist, which includes Styx, Shostakovich & everyone in between:

Gettin' to Know CYO: Meet Matt Maguire!

Senior Matt Maguire is an early bird whose favorite class this semester is African American Studies. This cellist loves dark chocolate and chanteuses likes Amy Winehouse, Nina Simone and Lady Gaga, as evident by his powerful playlist!


Why do you love the cello?
I love the cello because of its soulful tone and its wide range.

What's the last movie you've watched?

How would you describe yourself in five words or less?
Definitely different.

Why do you think music is an important part of life?
For me, music is an important part of life because it helps me cope with the emotions of life along with giving me a way to express myself. In general, I feel music is important because of how it can move the soul.

What song sums up your life right now?
"Gasoline" by Halsey.

What will you miss most about CYO after you graduate?
The people involved, including the cello section and Liza.

 Are you an early bird or a night owl?
An early bird.

Which class is your favorite in school?
This semester my favorite class is African American Studies.

What junk food couldn't you live without?
Probably dark chocolate because it really chills me out and helps put me in a good mood on bad days.

Matt's put together a playlist filled with some powerhouse divas, classic bands and orchestral standards. Give it a spin here: 

Gettin' to Know CYO: Meet Sami Berman!

Senior Sami Berman would take Iron Man on a date, can't get enough chocolate and doesn't think she'd survive the zombie apocalypse because she's just not a fighter. Get to know her today by reading her interview and giving her APMAs-inspired playlist a spin! 




If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Chocolate. It's my guilty pleasure. Or really anything sweet. I have a huge sweet tooth.

If you could date any superhero, who would it be and why?

Probably Iron Man. He's extremely smart and pretty sarcastic. 

If you had a passport and unlimited funds, where would you travel and why?

I would travel to Iceland. It's so different from Ohio. There's geysers and hot springs and waterfalls and glaciers. It's like a huge Yellowstone. 

What is your favorite memory from your time in CYO?

Playing with Styx or twenty one pilots is definitely up there, but my favorite memory happens every concert. There's this one moment when you make eye contact with Liza and she just smiles at you. It's like everything freezes and you're the only person in the orchestra. It's amazing.

Do you speak any other languages?

I took French for 4 years (7th through 10th grade) but was absolutely horrible at it. It's only been 2 years since I stopped taking French and I can't even hold a conversation anymore. I would love to learn Spanish though; I think it would come in handy in the future.

If you didn't play a brass instrument, what instrument would you play?

Definitely cello. It's almost like the "French horn" of the string section. Or maybe harp, but that seems too hard. I have tiny hands so I'm not sure if harp would work.

If you were in the zombie apocalypse, what would be your strategy to survive?

I'm not much of a fighter so I would probably stash some food and hide away for a while. I probably wouldn't last long but hey, what else can I do? 

Do you have any funny family stories?

Just recently, my family went to Costa Rica. We decided to take a different route back to our hotel. We ended up on a narrow dirt road going up through the mountains. After about 30 minutes of steep bumps and twists, we realized that we were on a horse trail meant for horses, not cars. We were supposed to turn right off of the road but the "road" was just a cow pasture. It was hilarious until we figured out that we had to go back down the road. Although, it makes for a great story now!

If you could write a letter to your ten year old self, what would it say?

I would tell myself that other people's opinions really don't matter, to be more confident in yourself, and to have fun because you're only 10 once.

Sami put together a playlist of her favorite tunes from bands she's shared the stage with during the APMAs the past two years. Check it out: 


We bet you didn't know that senior Paul Corty turns to Adele as his go-to stress cure, designs and sews and is teaching himself Icelandic. Get to know this cellist through his interview and pop-infused playlist, featuring Florence and the Machine, Zella Day and Melanie Martinez!


How superstitious are you?

I’m not extremely superstitious.
If you could learn any language fluently, what would it be?

Icelandic. It started off as a joke, with my friends saying that I looked Icelandic, and then I started reading about and seeing pictures of Iceland, and I fell in love with the culture and the language.  To say "thank you", you say Þakka þér fyrir. (Thah-ka thyer fi-rir.)
How do you manage stress?

I listen to Adele and eat as much as I possibly can. Doesn’t everyone?
What is one talent you have that most people might not know about?

I design and sew! In fact, I just finished a lovely little pleather dress.
Why did you choose the cello?

I loved the way it sounded—thanks, Yo-Yo Ma—and everyone I knew was picking the violin, so I wanted to do something different.
If you could ask a single person one question, and they had to answer truthfully, who and what would you ask?

I would ask Donatella Versace what gave her the strength to continue designing for the brand after her brother was murdered.
What is the different between living and existing?

Living is really experiencing the world, letting yourself be immersed in everything that it has to offer. Living is loving, going out, having fun and experiencing new things. Existing is simply going through the motions of the world, day in and day out.
If you were going to start a band, what role would you take?

I would be the lead singer. Duh.
Why is playing in an ensemble like CYO important?

Playing in an ensemble like CYO is important because you get to play absolutely breathtaking music with some of the finest people and get to experience many life-changing events, like the Alternative Press Music Awards and the Scott Hamilton ice show, both of which I participated in.

Paul's got your hook up on his favorite tunes right here: 



Our photojournalist Amber Patrick loves Tommy's milkshakes, wishes she could see Janis Joplin live and envies the kid from Almost Famous that gets to tour with a band to write a story for Rolling Stone. Get to know her by reading the interview and spinning her playlist, which includes Spoon, Lucius and Fall Out Boy!


You are offered a private jet for 5 days. Where do you go?

Ireland would be my first stop. It's somewhere I've always wanted to visit because my family is Irish and my grandpa was always proud of that. It'd need to be an independent pilgrimage because I think I'd feel really introspective there. Next, I'd hit up LA. My best friend just moved there, I miss him terribly and if I'm going on adventures, I want him by my side. I've always wanted to go to France or Australia, so spending the rest of the time in either would be fine, but honestly, I wouldn't care where we ended up as long as he was with me.

If you could bring back one of these artists back for one more concert AND to be the exclusive photographer, who would you choose?

1. Freddie Mercury

2. John Lennon

3. Janis Joplin

4. Jimi Hendrix

5.Donna Summer

6. Bob Marley

7. Billie Holiday

8. Lou Reed

9. Marvin Gaye

10. JS Bach

This is a terribly difficult question!! I'm torn three ways: Lou Reed, Janis Joplin and Billie Holiday. But I think if I only get one choice, it's gotta be Janis. When I'm photographing, I look for raw, human emotion and from the videos I've watched of her performing, that's Janis to the core. That voice just cuts right through you. She didn't put on an act for other people; she was just authentic. She lived her truth and loved what she was doing.

What is your favorite place to get a milkshake?

Tommy's has the best milkshakes in Cleveland, maybe the world.

Why do you work for CYO?

I work for CYO because this organization revitalizes me. The time I spend with them is what I look forward to every week. I leave rehearsals feeling inspired to take on the world! Being around these amazing (student) musicians who aren't afraid to try anything pushes me to be a better teacher for my own student and reconfirmed for me that a great teacher isn't someone that is going to be pushed through a mold. Liza inspires me to harness my own strength--as a woman, as a musician, as a teacher--to trust in myself and make my dreams reality. CYO isn't afraid of stepping into uncharted territory. They don't let the fear of failure rob them of the opportunity to succeed. They try. If they fail, they get back up and try harder. They dream bigger. I love and respect all of that. I wish I'd auditioned as a student, but I'm grateful as an adult to be given a second chance to experience this phenomenal group and all of the people who make it possible.

What is your favorite pair of shoes that you own?

I just bought ankle boots for an upcoming trip that I'm obsessing over! They're black with a Western heel and have some chain details on them that kind of scream rock 'n roll. I feel really confident in them and like Rolling Stone should be offering me a job.

Would you choose driving to San Fran in a VW bus (original) or Amtrak with free access to sleeper and amenities?

I'd take the VW bus. First off, it'd make me feel even more like I'm living out the movie Almost Famous. I'm like "The Enemy" because that boy in the movie is basically living my dream life. I also have some soul-searching I need to do and I feel like that vehicle would make that easier. Plus, it'd look more aesthetically pleasing in my photographs.

Do you have any tattoos?

I have one tattoo right now, on my mid-back, left side. It's the last line from my favorite e.e. cummings' poem, which reads "and death i think is no parenthesis." I got it for two reasons. First, it serves as a memorial to a friend who died far too soon. Secondly, it serves as a reminder to me that you don't end when your body does. You live on forever in the lives you have touched and through the work you have done. It reminds me to dedicate myself to enhancing the world around me, so that my impact is forever a positive one.

Spin Amber's playlist here: 



Senior Ben Poe would trade his trumpet for a cello if he played a string instrument, can't get enough of Magic Kingdom and says the smartest member of his family has got to be his brother, Eric, who he sang with at our Graham Nash concert. Get to know Ben by checking out his interview and giving his playlist a spin!


Who is your hero?

Tommy Shaw and Joe Miller.

Describe to me how you'd spend the perfect day.

All day at Magic Kingdom.  Finish it off with Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios 

What's one country you'd like to visit?


How was it to sing with Graham Nash?

Unbelievable in every way you can imagine. To be on stage with such a legendary figure and to sing along side with him with my brother. The level of trust and intensity and euphoria I experienced is completely indescribable.

What was your favorite book when you were a little kid?

The Diggingest Dog by Dr. Seuss.

If you played a string instrument, what would it be?

Totally cello. They're so badass.

What song would you say best sums you up?

"My Way" by Frank Sinatra.

What has been one of the greatest lessons you've learned from playing in CYO?

Bring the energy. Be the energy. Every. Single. Day.

Who is the smartest person in your family?

I gotta go Eric.  He learns things so fast and he doesn't even try.  He puts his mind to something for minutes and gets it faster than I can in hours.  Just not fair.

Check out Ben's eclectic taste in tunes here: