Senior Spotlight: Henry and Corinne Hess

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While DCYOP has proudly offered instrumental and ensemble training for children from age four and a half through high school for decades, how many students have actually taken this thirteen-and-a-half-year-long journey with us from start to finish?

There are quite a few DCYOP “lifers,” and some families whose kids have each gone through the program one after another. But more than one kid at the exact same time? Twins Corinne and Henry Hess may be the first in DCYOP history. For them, it all started at the neighborhood farmer’s market.

“When I was around four years old, I saw two women playing the violin at a farmer’s market,” Henry recalls. “I really wanted to do what they did, so at four and a half, I started playing the violin with DCYOP and then switched to the viola at age twelve.”

For Corinne, it was more a matter of family logistics, but it turned out to be a wonderful opportunity for both siblings. “I started playing because my brother expressed interest in playing a string instrument,” says Corinne. “My parents wanted to keep us together, so they enrolled us in DCYOP. I started playing the recorder when I was four and a half and eventually switched to oboe at age eight. I’ve been playing the oboe for almost ten years now, and I love it!”

Being a part of DCYOP for so many years gave Henry and Corinne the time and space to grow as young musicians and develop life skills that transfer beyond the concert stage. “My favorite thing about DCYOP is the resources it has given me,” Corinne shares. “I’m a more confident player and leader because DCYOP has encouraged me to find and share my strengths.”

A true sense of community and belonging also played a big role in keeping them coming back year after year.

“I love that DCYOP gives me the chance to play with a diverse group of students from across the DC metro area,” says Henry. “It has allowed me to learn and grow with people I may have never met without orchestra. These are friends and experiences I will keep with me for life.” Corinne adds, “I love the close-knit community that I am a part of at DCYOP. The staff, fellow musicians, and conductors are always there for me when I need them.” 

And what does the future hold for the Hess twins? This fall, Henry will attend the University of Washington, where he plans to major in Medical Laboratory Science and minor in either music or Native American studies. Corinne is excited to head to the University of California, Berkeley. Both are hoping to play in their school orchestras alongside their studies.

Corinne and Henry along with fellow senior, Liberty Kessler, after their December performance with YO.

Before then, they still have a few special performances to give with our Youth Orchestra – first, at our spring concerts at UDC in late May and then in early June, in the Concert Hall of the Kennedy Center. Last year’s Kennedy Center performance stands out as a favorite memory for both young musicians. “It was a really exciting and exhilarating experience for me,” says Henry. “It makes me so happy that I was able to play at such an amazing venue with my friends and peers.” Corinne echoes Henry’s feelings. “I had such a blast playing with my friends, and it was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

It will be an epic conclusion to a lifetime of music-making with us, something Corinne hopes more students will get to experience for themselves. “I love DCYOP, and I think every kid should be given the opportunity to be a part of our community!”