Whiz Kids of the Week: San Marino Kids on "Glee" With the Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestra

Find out what makes these kids special.


Each week San Marino Patch names a Whiz Kid of the Week. This can be a kid, teen, sports team, Girl Scout troop, etc. from San Marino who is amazing in some way.

We are asking for your nominations for Whiz Kid of the Week, so suggest a special San Marino kid, teen or youth group in the comment box below! Read more about nominations .

This week's Whiz Kids are the talented members of the Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestra. Be sure to check out this video of PYSO performing on Glee before reading the article!

  • Whiz Kids: Evan Kim, Julian Lehr-Bryant and Catherine Yang of the Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestra (PYSO)
  • Whiz Kids’ Age: 6th grade to 9th grade
  • Whiz Kids’ School: Although PYSO is a multi-school organization, drawing from schools from all over the area (Pasadena, Arcadia, Temple City), the brilliant young musicians in PYSO that call San Marino home attend (Julian Lehr-Bryant and Catherine Yang) and Polytechnic (Evan Kim).
  • Whiz Kids' Accomplishment: The Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestra has toured internationally and represents some of Southern California’s finest young musical talent. PYSO has performed not only in local, invitation-only competitions such as the ASTA Conference in Competition in Santa Clara among others, but on both the national level (the legendary Carnegie Hall in New York) and internationally (Vienna).                                
    For all you Glee lovers, Julian, Catherine, and Evan were all invited along with 25 PYSO members to perform in three episodes of Glee. You can watch them on season two, episode 17 alongside Gwyneth Paltrow giving a contemporary salute to the power music has to transcend generations and cross cultures. All three kids remarked the Glee experience as positive and eye opening. Although it was both exciting and scary at the same time, they all got to meet the cast and crew as well as learn what it takes to make such a successful TV show.
  • Whiz Kids’ Key to Awesomeness: The Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestra stands as a testament that music is still growing, still flourishing, and perseverant as ever.  Celebrating its 40th Anniversary Season, the PYSO is considered among the finest youth orchestras in the Southland. What makes the PYSO so awesome however is beyond the cohesiveness that makes any orchestra’s music emotionally riveting.  The key to PYSO’s awesomeness is the individual talent that brings to the orchestra a much needed taste of diversity. It is the many parts of the whole that allows for the numerous different instrumental voices of an orchestra to come together into a wonderfully unique mixture full of varied instrumental textures. I would like to recognize three San Marino residents who I feel shine out.

    The key to Evan Kim’s awesomeness is the incredible focus and discipline that he incorporates into not only his music, but his life. Just 12 years old, Evan is a mutli-faceted young man who excels not just when it comes to athletics (having qualified for the Junior Olympics in swimming) but music.  The moment he puts his mind to accomplishing anything, he tries and tries again until he perfects it. To him, the art of refining one’s skills is a journey that he loves, as opposed to a chore to be done by necessity. This mentality is reflected in the way he plays both the piano and the cello. The high standards that he sets for himself can be heard in the smooth and mellow tones that sing from his cello whenever he puts bow to string. It is his belief that through this self-improvement, and the discipline acquired by constantly setting personal goals, that accomplishment is actualized hand-in-hand with satisfaction.

    The key to Catherine Yang’s awesomeness is her competitive drive that constantly pushes her towards self-improvement. As a young musician of 13 years, Catherine is also multi-faceted in that she’s won awards for her violin, dance, art, and volunteer work. But what really sets her apart is the open perspective she keeps in competition, and how she approaches life. She sees everything as not just an event to be won, but a chance for self-reflection to improve her craft. Her amazing outlook on the way competition acts as a force of development, will certainly serve her in any and all future ventures she takes on in life. Moreover, her motto of not just trying to win, but to learn, is certainly a breath of fresh air in a modern world that seems entirely focused on advancement through victory in competition.

    The key to Julian Lehr-Bryant’s awesomeness is his determination and all the hard work that he invests into his craft. Julian started his musical career as a violinist in 1st grade, but his real dream, despite being a little too small, was to play the bass. Julian certainly didn’t let his size deter him. Once he was tall enough to play a quarter bass in 4th grade, he switched and practiced (and still does) 30 to 45 minutes a day for the past 4 years. Between his goals of attending a top-rated four-year university and changing world, Julian always keeps his sense of humor.

    But the PYSO, like any group, is defined by both its musicians and its leadership. Conductor Jack Taylor is a perfect example of how orchestras are a part of a whole in that he himself once walked between the stands and chairs of the PYSO. He stands as proof of how music never fails to bring us back to our roots; having found joy in giving back to an organization that changed his life forever.


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