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Newhall native playing clarinet at Olympics

Posted: July 27, 2008 12:30 a.m.
Updated: September 27, 2008 5:03 a.m.

Angela Olinger, an 18-year-old Newhall native and now sophomore at Fresno State University, is traveling to China next week to play clarinet at the 2008 Olympics Games in China.

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To Angela Olinger, if you stick with music, it can take you anywhere. The 18-year-old from Newhall has stuck with music for a long time, playing the clarinet and other instruments since her elementary school days.

Her talent has grown over the years as she spent her four years at Newhall’s Hart High School in the marching band, perfecting her clarinet skills.

Last year, she enrolled at California State University, Fresno as a freshman to play the clarinet in the school’s marching band and wind orchestra.

The Newhall native’s abilities will grow in the fall when she assumes the role as drum major.

And while her musical talents have taken her all over the country to perform at various competitions and events, on Tuesday, she will embark on a nearly 20-day trip to Beijing, China to be one of the roughly 2,000 people selected to be part of the Beijing Olympic Orchestra.

“I’m looking forward to playing there and seeing the type of audience and their reaction to the music,” she said on Saturday at her home, while wearing her orchestra shirt.

Olinger said the orchestra, which includes members from all over the world, will perform for the Chinese people at various wonders, including Tiananmen Square and the Great Wall of China.

She has learned 10 compositions and since August, has practiced for hours a week alongside 23 of her Fresno State classmates under the direction of the school’s music dean, Dr. Gary Gilroy.

Recently, Olinger, who is a mathematics major, said she spent three days in Modesto, rehearsing eight hours a day with the Fresno State group.

But whatever the hours may be, Olinger is familiar with spending long hours rehearsing an instrument she’s been playing for a decade.

Olinger initially started playing the piano in fourth grade. She soon picked up the clarinet after realizing her grandfather had played until his early high school years.

Carol Tomasulo, Angela’s grandmother, said she finds a lot of pleasure in watching her granddaughter play her husband’s clarinet.

Under private instruction, Olinger’s hobby expanded in high school where she became deeply involved in the marching band, spending up to 22 hours of her week in band practice.

“That’s more than a part-time job,” said Tina Olinger, Angela’s mom.

But Olinger pointed out that being involved in music is something she can’t do by herself, especially when it comes to finances.

After Olinger found out about the opportunity in China, she said people she never asked, ranging from local business people to even her pediatrician, began donating money as a way to offset the more than $4,500 needed to get to China.

Aside from that, Olinger said her family has provided her with moral support over the years.

With that, her parents are impressed by the opportunity to go to China.

“I’m very proud,” Tina said. “She’s worked very hard.”

Her dad, John, who sported a “Fresno State Dad” shirt, noted that Angela has always set her goals high.

But Tomasulo is still in awe.

“I just can’t believe she’s going to China!” she exclaimed.

Despite the trip to China, Olinger will continue to find a deep connection to music.

“Being able to come together with a group of people and share music is priceless,” she said. “It’s another example of how music can allow you to travel and gives you a world of opportunities.”

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