New Directions

The legacy and future of the Garfield orchestra.

Ever since its founding in 1985, the Garfield Orchestra has brought much prestige and honor to Garfield High School. In 1997, twelve years after the program’s beginning, the orchestra claimed second place at the internationally renowned Vienna Youth and Music Festival. After placing multiple times in the top three positions at the Northwest Orchestra Festival in Oregon, the orchestra continued to tour nationally; performing in Carnegie Hall in 2010, and placing first at the National Orchestra Cup in the prestigious Lincoln Center in 2011.

Conductor Marcus Tsutakawa helped the program grow from 19 students in its first year to over 100, but his time recently came to an end. Last spring, Tsutakawa announced his retirement after 30 years with the program, shocking many students and families who have been part of the orchestra. In his final months, students expressed their endearing support for his embarkment on this new journey.

Sophomore Marte Borgmann shared what she would miss most about Tsutakawa.

“He was in constant support of each student who played in his orchestra. I loved how well-respected Mr. Tsutakawa was, and how he respected his students,” Borgmann said.

Despite this dramatic change, students have students have continued to excel as they welcomed the new conductor, Kim Roy, into the orchestra family. Under her baton, the orchestra will be traveling to New York this upcoming March, where they will see a live performance of 17-time Grammy Award winner and Juilliard graduate Yo-Yo Ma, as well as touring New York City.

Students are thrilled to be traveling to New York.

“I love listening to other orchestras play. The more music I hear and am exposed to, the more I can grow as a musician,” said Borgmann.

Fellow Garfield musician, senior Aileen Zeng is also looking forward to the New York trip this March. “I’ve never been to NYC [before], so it’s extra exciting,” she said.

The orchestra’s journey to New York is a highly-anticipated one for these student-musicians, and they’re grateful to be wrapping up this school year in an orchestra setting.

“It’s really special to be a part of the orchestra here because we get so many opportunities here that aren’t available in other schools (like the waltzes),” Zeng said.

Borgmann agrees, and shares a snippet of the reason behind her decision to join orchestra in the first place.

“I joined orchestra because I had heard that Garfield had an amazing music program…I have always been one to jump at musical opportunities and I saw being a part of Garfield Orchestra as one. [And] I have never regretted my choice.” The Garfield Orchestra performing in 2015. Photo via