Bria Michelle Rives has played on the world stage, and she isn’t done sharing her gift. Rives, a senior at Fayette County High School, toured the globe as a member of the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America (NYO-USA), where she has held a principal bassist position for two years.
Rives is a double bassist who has been playing since age 11. She was selected to be in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Talent Development Program (TDP) when she was in the seventh grade, and she is currently under the tutelage of Gloria Allgood from the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
She has had the opportunity to join other talented musicians and perform with the Honors Performance Series Middle School Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, the GMEA All-State Orchestra, and the Interlochen Symphony Orchestra in Michigan. She has also participated in the Sewanee Summer Music Festival, the Curtis Institute of Music Young Artist Summer Programs, and the National Youth Orchestra of the USA.
FCHS Orchestra Director Dr. Betul Soykan beams with pride over Bria’s accomplishments.
“Bria is extraordinarily talented, but that’s nearly not enough to get where she is today. She is hardworking and very resourceful,” said Dr. Soykan. “Bria always creates opportunities to advance her artistry, and, while the competition is extremely high nationally and internationally, she excels in every possible way. She will go very far with her music career, I have no doubt.”
The program has brought Rives a number of once-in-a-lifetime memories.
“Sitting in a grand hall such as Carnegie Hall was an awe-inspiring experience for me. I could hear the other side of the orchestra as clear as filtered water,” she said. “Being able to look out at thousands of people was both nerve-wracking and humbling as I knew that these people had paid to come see the National Youth Orchestra play for them.
“The most important thing to me was the excitement I felt after the performance when the audience energetically applauded for us. That is how I knew that we had performed a job well done.”
Making music to share with others made the long hours of rehearsal and fatigue from touring worth it.
“From start to finish, the program was eye-opening. I am used to performing with talented musicians as I have done so for a few years now, but this was taken to an entirely different level with NYO-USA,” said Rives. “Performing at multiple famous halls in Europe as young musicians made me realize that we were changing history. It had occurred to me that people all over Europe were interested in hearing what these young musicians, ones who may or may not have already performed in a large ensemble before, sounded like.”
It offered her an opportunity to improve mentally.
“The program surrounded me with such great musicians who also were great leaders, and naturally, leaders can learn from leaders,” said Rives. “I gained a lot more confidence as a musician. Leading with my body, listening to the sections around me, being more confident in my playing—these are only a few out of many things that I have learned from my colleagues. I hope to someday teach others about these points and help them grow as much as I did.”
For Bria, it is just the beginning of what will be a lifetime of music that she hopes to share with the world.
“My goal is to continue pursuing music as a career, and, with these changes and additions underway, it will be possible for me to share the love of music that I have to the world,” said Rives. “I strive to be an inspiration to anyone who wants to have a career in music, and I hope to be the story that motivates a young musician to continue following their dreams as I did.”