Musicians in our midst


Photo courtesy of Envato Elements

Shubha Gautam and Brandt Stewart

Aidan Ryan, senior pianist/tenor singer

In the early life of senior Aidan Ryan, the piano was the spark that ignited his zeal for music, also then guiding him to address a newfound intrigue in singing; ever since, he has been taking steps throughout his time at RBHS to enrich his passion for such.

He is involved in Chamber Choir, Modern Music Masters (Tri-M) and show choir, and he has played many roles in RBHS musicals such as “Anything Goes,” “The Drowsy Chaperone,” “Lucky Stiff,” and, most recently, “Bye Bye Birdie.” He also continues to play the piano, it being the beginning of his journey.

“My interest in music came from piano lessons. When I was five, my parents wanted me to have an activity,” Ryan said. “At first, I hated the piano lessons, but over time I developed a deep love for music.”

Though Ryan said he has focused most of his time more on his voice performance, the piano is still prominent in his music career.

 “I never stopped playing the piano,” Ryan said. “It’s still a very important part of my life. I stopped taking lessons so that I could focus more on my voice.”

Ryan said his inspiration for music stems from a variety of sources, all of which help him understand his passion and embody his future hopes in being a singer and actor.

“I am always inspired by John Williams. His music makes me happy,” Ryan said. “I am also inspired by Patti Lapone. Her voice is powerful, and she’s a great actress.” 

Ryan said he has posed many roles to reach his current standing as a senior musical performer, playing in every fall musical per year since he was a freshman at RBHS.

“I started auditioning my freshman year for the musical, show choir, choir, etc.,” Ryan said. “From there, I continually invested a lot of my time into the performing arts.” 

After graduating from RBHS, Ryan plans to continue to pursue music. The piano jump started his aspirations, but he ultimately decided his voice and performing skills as the focal point of his musical career, carrying most crucially into his future.

“I plan on getting a musical theater or acting Bachelor of Fine Arts,” he said. “I also might get a degree in voice.”


Anthony Wu, senior pianist/trumpeter

The piano has always been a pursuit of senior Anthony Wu, becoming an early, avid piano player, among other musical undertakings. This love for music has carried him through his years at RBHS, becoming involved in various musical endeavors and gaining perspective about his future.

Wu is involved in marching band, wind symphony and jazz ensemble. He plays the trumpet for band-related activities, but he said he loves the piano much more, using it in his college auditions. It may seem so, but Wu did not gain an immediate love for the piano.

 “At first I really hated it, so I quit when I was in fifth grade. In seventh grade, I started back up, and this time, I had a new piano teacher. In this time of my life […] this is actually kind of embarrassing, but what really got me to love music again was this one anime called ‘You’re A Lie in April’,” Wu said. “Something about the story and how the story combined with music to really show off how powerful piano playing can be, that’s what really got me inspired. I started trumpet, however, in sixth grade, and that’s just been crankin’ ever since.”

Wu said at this point in his career, his inspiration to play piano also comes from the very essence of music itself, having played it for long enough to gain the mutuality of an experienced pianist.

“I really think that there’s something to music that truly touches us. It’s not something that can be explained away with anything scientific,” Wu said. “I mean, why does a major chord sound happy […] a minor chord sounds sad? Why do all these melodies bring out such great emotions in us? Anytime I listen to a piece of music and I am moved by it, it never fails to inspire me, even when I am absolutely in my dumps and feel like I want to quit, whenever I hear some music that’s good and music that really shakes my soul.”

Wu said he does not plan to stop music after high school and wants to nurture his talents with his career, whether that be simple, such as a music teacher or shop owner, or an acknowledgment of his dearest dream. 

“It is my dream, my dream, my dream, my dream, to become a concert pianist. The feeling that I get when I am on stage, and it’s just me and the keys in front of me, it’s the most powerful feeling,” Wu said. “The piano has the ability to paint something very personal […] it is a desperation to squeeze the world into every note.”


Kendall Flaherty, senior pianist/saxophonist

As a practitioner of the piano, alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, clarinet and ukulele, senior Kendall Flaherty said her passion for music started long before coming to RBHS. Her fascination with music began when she was just nine years-old. She said she pestered her mom to allow her to learn an instrument and, once her mom gave in, signed up for piano lessons. Flaherty now plays the piano, along with other instruments she’s picked up along the way in various musical extracurriculars.

“Growing up, I always saw the [RBHS] band in the [University of Missouri—Columbia (MU)] homecoming parade, and that’s what I wanted to do […]—marching band.” Flaherty said. “So, in sixth grade, I went to the instrument try-out night, and I ended up with [the] clarinet, and that’s kind of what started my love for music and band.”

Since then, Flaherty achieved her dream of joining the marching band, participating in the RBHS concert band as the first alto saxophone, orchestra pit as an alto and soprano saxophone, woodwind choir and jazz band competitions. She also takes the music theory class at RBHS and takes part in the Missouri State High School Activities Association choir camp. On top of this, Flaherty takes saxophone lessons, teaches piano lessons and plays piano for the RBHS show choir.

Flaherty said music accompanies her growing interest in teaching. Her biggest inspirations are her piano teacher, Kristi Larson, and Leo Saguiguit, a saxophone professor at MU. His incredible playing and teaching abilities, she said, along with his confidence and love for what he does, motivates her to pursue music as a career. She said she hopes to go to college for music and become a similarly inspiring professor one day.

In order to reach that point, Flaherty said she practices for hours at home by herself, running basic and, according to her, notoriously “boring” things like scales repeatedly to constantly progress in her musical expression. 

“I want to go to MU and major in music, and teach music to other people and share my love for my art with other students,” Flaherty said. “And then, hopefully I’ll get my [Master’s Degree] and be able to teach at a college.”


Brandon Kim, senior pianist/violinist

RBHS senior Brandon Kim said he has always been interested in music. Whether it was seeing his brother playing a myriad of instruments, or taking piano lessons at a young age, Kim said his love for music stuck with him, leading him to his current status as a skilled musician. 

Kim said he began with piano lessons when he was around five, adding the violin to his list of instruments shortly after and the saxophone in middle school. Today, he participates in various musical activities within and outside RBHS; he is the president of Biolympiad Club, co-concertmaster of the chamber orchestra and founder and violinist of a musical group called the “BNB Piano Trio.” His musical group rehearses together every Sunday, performing frequently at the Odyssey Chamber Music Series. Even with all of these activities, he makes time for non-musical extracurriculars, including being the core leader of the Rock Bridge Reaches Out Southampton division and vice president of Mu Alpha Theta.

Kim said he believes his dedication and genuine interest in music has helped him reach the level he is at today.

“I just kind of had this drive to share my music with other people that kept me motivated,” Kim said. “That’s why I formed the trios, to play with some of my friends.” 

Kim said one inspiration for his creative pursuits is Itzhak Perlman, an Israeli-American violinist, conductor and music teacher. Kim said he aspires to be like Perlman, who has had a long and successful career as a musician, including playing at a State Dinner at the White House honoring Queen Elizabeth II and conducting the Westchester Philharmonic. Though Kim said he is not planning to take up music as a full-time profession after high school like Perlman, he still wants to play in orchestras in college and continue his passion for composing. 

Along with practicing music, Kim said composing is a significant part of his life. He began composing in fifth grade, propelling him to his current position as the holder of multiple national titles related to composition, most recently winning $1,0000 in the High School Division (9-12): Fine Art Music title of the Creating Original Music Project hosted by the University of Missouri—Columbia College of Arts and Science last year with a saxophone piece called “The Sands of Time.” He said playing that piece was the most impactful moment in his life, reaffirming his unwavering appreciation for music once again.

“I [have] played for many years, and I just kind of had this drive to share my music with other people,” Kim said. “That kept me motivated.”

Do you know any other talented senior musicians? Let us know in the comments below.