The Mariposa Yosemite Symphony Orchestra (MYSO) has named 15-year-old violinist Rylan Post as the ensemble’s concertmaster — only the fourth in the organization’s 21-year history.
The concertmaster leads the entire string section, and in orchestral hierarchy, is second in command after the conductor.
“I was astounded by Rylan’s artistic maturity, technique and tone quality from the moment I first heard him,” said Les Marsden, MYSO’s founder and conductor
When the opening for a new concertmaster arose, “There was really only one choice – and that was the modest 6-foot-3 young man who had already highly distinguished himself in this orchestra.”
Marsden added that he is “tickled to be able to introduce our audiences to such a wonderful concertmaster, and the fact he’s so young is icing on the cake.”
Post joined the MYSO at age 14, not long before then-Concertmaster Sally Martinez was called to temporary National Park Service duty as acting superintendent of Hawaii’s Honouliuli National Historic Site in June. Marsden asked Post to serve as acting concertmaster until her anticipated return. But when she was named permanent superintendent in Hawaii in October, Martinez regretfully resigned from the orchestra.
Post was born and raised in Merced, the only child of now-single mother Rie Kobayashi.
“Besides his great talent and dedication to his instrument, Rylan is a thoughtful, humble and extremely kind young man, whose accomplishments have not gone to his head,” Marsden said. “He possesses great awareness of the many sacrifices his mother has made for him, and though she herself is not musical, she has done everything possible on a limited budget to support his passion for the violin and all his advanced educational endeavors.”
Kobayashi’s own story is remarkable, and Post wrote a moving paper for a college course defining his mother as the “biggest inspiration in my life.”
After emigrating from Japan to the United States at barely 25, and scarcely speaking English, she attended a Florida English language school before settling in California – eventually obtaining a degree in English. Her own upbringing reflected her parents’ old-fashioned culture which frowned upon educating daughters. It was that very upbringing which resulted in her focus on obtaining the best education possible for her son, and as an American, for herself.
Rylan’s mother currently works as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA.)
Knowing nothing about the violin, she video-recorded all her son’s lessons and would watch them repeatedly in order that she could understand and then help her son at home, encouraging him at every step of the way: “She is my biggest supporter for sure,” Post said. Of his history on the violin, Post shared, “At the age of 3, I started taking violin lessons from Ms. Caitlin Hunsuck Serpa, who not only taught me everything I know as a violinist, but also instilled in me a deep love for music and those who play it.”
Serpa is a longtime member of the MYSO on violin and is regarded as the foremost private string instructor in Merced. Post has also played the alto saxophone since age 9, and does so in both the marching and jazz bands at El Capitan High School in Merced, where – after skipping a grade, he’s now not only a Junior, but also in his third year of concurrent classes at Merced College.
Post notes that “If everything goes well, I’ll be earning my Associate’s Degree in Health Sciences at the same time as my high school graduation.” In addition to his new position with the MYSO, a major regional orchestra – Rylan has also been concertmaster of the Merced Union High School District Orchestra since being asked to join that ensemble at the age of 9, a rare exception for a group comprised of high school students. He also serves as concertmaster of the Modesto Youth Symphony Orchestra. “When I’m not practicing 20 hours a day for Les,” Post said with a wink of his eye, “I love to hang out with my friends and play video games, lots of them,” though unlike most 15-year-olds, Post only plays games in order to spend quality time with those friends.
He also has two shelter-rescue Chihuahuas named Jake and Teddy (He’s had Jake for 12 years and Teddy for nine) and “I love them with all my heart!”
Post has already soloed with the MYSO, in the orchestra’s June 28 “Independence Day Spectacular” Concert on the Great Lawn of the Wawona Hotel in Yosemite, and far more impressively in Marsden’s own demanding “Persistence – A Concerto for Orchestra.” That latter piece debuted in October on the orchestra’s Season 19 Opening Concert weekend in both Mariposa and Camp Curry in Yosemite.
Post will perform concertmaster solos on the orchestra’s 7 p.m., Dec. 16, concert at the First Baptist Church located at 5005 Frank Wilson Road in Mariposa. This one-night-only concert is one of the orchestra’s best-selling annual events and those interested are strongly encouraged to purchase their tickets in advance ($10/Adults, $8/Students) on the orchestra’s website: http://MYSO.Live
If tickets are still available at the door on the evening of the concert, their prices are $15/Adults and $10/Students. “I’d like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to Les for giving me this opportunity, and to the members of MYSO for welcoming me with open arms,” Post said. “I am truly honored to be the concertmaster of MYSO and look forward with enthusiasm to spreading beautiful music throughout this beautiful region.” The members of the orchestra and Marsden reciprocate with their fondest wishes for Rylan Post and look forward to “spreading beautiful music” with their new concertmaster for many years to come.