A passion for playing the oboe

Senior Andrew Pahadi shares how challenges have created success


Photo courtesy of Andrew Pahadi

Andrew Pahadi poses with his oboe after a concert with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Katie Kempff, Editor-in-Chief

Sunday evening is chaotic, with a rush to finish homework and prepare for the upcoming week.
For senior Andrew Pahadi, though, Sunday evenings look slightly different.
Pahadi spends each Sunday in downtown Chicago attending rehearsal for the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra (CYSO). He plays the oboe in both their symphony orchestra and CORE orchestra. According to the CYSO, their CORE orchestra is “a chamber orchestra made up of a select group of exceptional Symphony Orchestra students who perform traditional classical orchestral repertoire.”
On other days, Pahadi also plays in East’s wind ensemble and for the Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative, which is a Chicago-area scholarship program. According to Pahadi, the program “pays for most of [his] music expenses” while he has to “play recitals, juries, attend meetings, and write concert reports for them.”
Recently, he was also awarded first chair of the honors orchestra through the Illinois Music Education Association (ILMEA). Students are selected for ILMEA after a grueling audition process, in which they have to learn specific pieces and perform them in high-stakes settings. Pahadi first qualified for the group beginning in his freshman year. By the time he was a sophomore, he placed first in the top group at ILMEA.
“The role was tough, having to lead a section and take on solos. Looking back [at sophomore year], I really wasn’t ready for it,” Pahadi said. “But it was such a good learning experience.”
Now, as first chair of the ILMEA honors orchestra, Pahadi said that it is rewarding to see his growth through his time in the program.
Pahadi began playing the oboe in eighth grade, when he switched from the saxophone because he wanted to play in a youth orchestra. In addition to the oboe, he plays the saxophone, piano and guitar.
“Music has always been the thing that made me happy,” he said. “It was always something that I could do to destress.”
However, COVID-19 presented unique challenges to Pahadi’s musical passion.
“Being in quarantine really put me in musical burn out,” he said. “Only hearing yourself for so long was hard … I really had moments where I thought of quitting and never picking up the oboe again. Rehearsals online were horrible, and I really forgot what made me want to get involved in music in the first place.”
Overcoming this musical “burn out” took time and action from Pahadi. However, he said that pushing through and refusing to give up his passion has been his proudest moment thus far in his musical career.
“It was just playing and being a part of a collective with a single goal of making something beautiful that made me love music,” he said. To get through his burn out, he said he had to refocus on this mindset.
In the future, Pahadi wants a career in music.
“Being back playing with others [after quarantine] made me realize how much I love playing and performing. Playing in a symphony as a job would be like a dream come true,” he said.
In college next year, he plans to major in music.
“I have found so many friends and have had so many amazing opportunities because of music, he said. “I couldn’t imagine my life without that aspect of myself.”

Andrew Pahadi during a CYSO concert at the Chicago Symphony Center. Pahadi plays in both the symphony orchestra and CORE orchestra for CYSO, which performs in the same center as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Photo courtesy of Andrew Pahadi. PHOTO COURTESY OF ANDREW PAHAHDI