La Jolla High School musician wins ‘Artistic Achievement’ award

Katherine Perrine

La Jolla High School horn player Katherine Perrine is the 2019 San Diego Unified School District’s Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Foundation Spotlight Award winner for Artistic Achievement. She was honored at a presentation March 13 at the Eugene Brucker Education Center in University Heights and will receive a $250 scholarship.

Katherine was involved in the District Honor Band for three high school years (earning the principal horn position) and only missed her senior year due to commitments traveling the country auditioning for music conservatories and colleges.

Of the awards, District Superintendent Cindy Marten said: “We know that the arts are an essential part of unlocking the genius in all of our students, and I am grateful for our community’s support of the VAPA Foundation that helps art and music thrive in our schools.”

Awardees were nominated by the District’s VAPA stakeholder community — teachers, parents, community arts partners, administrators and students — and winners were selected by a committee that included a teacher and rep from the district’s VAPA Advisory Council, VAPA Department and VAPA Foundation.

Katherine was nominated by former La Jolla High School music teacher Michael Fiedler. “Of all the students he knows, he picked me,” Katherine said, adding she was very flattered by the gesture.

Instrumental Music Specialist Mark Nicholson introduced her at the ceremony saying: “Katherine’s dedication to her success playing horn is unlike any kind of drive I’ve ever seen in a high school student. Despite her many musical commitments outside of school, she has stayed dedicated to the classmates in her school ensembles, consistently enrolling in at least one music class every year. Katherine is also perpetually at work crafting unique arrangements for school groups to sight read — some have been performed onstage by her peers with Katherine holding the baton and conducting! Katherine defines artistic achievement at high school.”

And it all started in fourth grade, as Katherine told the Light: “I was attending La Jolla Elementary School, and they started a Brass Club and I saw the trombone and thought it was so cool. I asked my mom if I could play it and she said no because it was too big. But she gave me a clarinet.”

In fifth grade, Katherine moved on to the cornet, and then to the trumpet. “I guess I was pretty good as it,” she said.

In middle school, she joined the after-school band. “Mr. Fiedler asked if anyone wanted to play French horn, and I liked the shape and sound, and tried it. I got to the point where I was playing both (French horn and trumpet),” she said. In seventh grade, Katherine auditioned for the San Diego Youth Symphony on the instruments, but it was the French horn for her, after she earned a better symphony placement with it.

“When I first started playing horn, we found a very good horn player in Benjamin Jaber. He was First Horn of San Diego Symphony at the time. Just sitting down and hearing a very good horn-player was empowering. He made it sound so wonderful ... then I knew what a beautiful sound the French horn could make,” she said.

To further understand how different instruments work together, she learned to play the cello.

“I love music, especially classical music. But brass and string instruments are very different in quartets and ensembles. I had no understanding of how these instruments worked together,” she said. “To truly understand how an instrument works, I had to play it. I got to understand how the string collaborates with the horn and other instruments. The way a cello works with a violin is different than how it works with a horn.”

Now a principal with the San Diego Youth Symphony, Katherine said she plans to major in music in college (she’s waiting to hear from some top choices) and become a professional musician.