Young artist joins WSO

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When 17-year-old Deirdre Skiffington envisions her future, she sees herself performing on stage at Heinz Hall as a member of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.


For now, though, she will perform with the Washington Symphony Orchestra at its concert, “Far Away Places,” Saturday at Trinity. She will be the featured guest oboe soloist after winning the Washington Symphony Orchestra’s Young Artist Competition in December. Skiffington will perform Jean Francaix’s “L’Horlogede Flore (Flower Clock).”


The Trinity High School senior has played with Community Band South in the South Hills, and as a young violinist growing up in Harrisburg, she was the concertmaster for the Harrisburg Youth Orchestra. It was her father, the late Gene Skiffington, who encouraged his daughter to embrace music. Deirdre began playing clarinet when she was in fourth grade.


“By the time I reached sixth grade, my dad wanted me to switch to oboe because it is not an instrument that most people want to play,” said Skiffington, whose mother is Mary Skiffington. “I have been playing the oboe and taking private lessons since then. … I love performing for people. Music portrays for an audience a story and can be very expressive.”


Skiffington maintains a rigorous schedule as president of Trinity’s Tri-M Music Honor Society and a member of the National Honor Society, the Foreign Language Club, the wind symphony ensemble, wind quintet and marching band. Skiffington also practices and performs with the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra, has weekly lessons with a private music instructor and is preparing for her music auditions at Duquesne University and West Virginia University.


“I love Pittsburgh, so Duquesne University would be my obvious first choice for college,” Skiffington said. “After I graduate, I would love to get into any symphony orchestra, but I especially want to be in Pittsburgh. I love the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra because I’ve played with them before. They are a close-knit group, and I love Heinz Hall. … Playing in large groups is a great experience. I feel such a sense of success when the music comes together so perfectly that it gives the people in the audience chills.”


Matt Stultz, high school band director at Trinity, said Skiffington’s love for music is obvious in her diligence.


“Deirdre is a wonderfully talented young musician,” Stultz said. “She has worked extremely hard and judiciously over the past four years to earn the many accomplishments on her résumé.


“Deirdre is a great team player within our program and has become a worthy inspiration to those around her. The WSO’s Young Artist concerto is certainly a highlight for her. I commend Deirdre and her family for their commitment to music and music education.”


Saturday’s concert will begin at 8 p.m. In addition to Skiffington being featured, the concert also will involve student musicians through the WSO’s side-by-side performance, giving students who might have never had the opportunity to play with an orchestra outside of school a chance to do so. Local students who will be featured include Anthony Carolla and Vincent Corolla, who are homeschooled; Liam Skiffington, Baylee Gardner, Maria Grande, Alyssa Blanoch, Jonathan Florian and Tyler Conklin of Trinity; and Jordan Smith and Sam Wicker, who are students at Washington.



Concert tickets can be purchased online at www.washgym.org, by calling 724-223-9796 or at the door.


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