Getting to Carnegie Hall is something one McLean girl does every few years.
Katrina Elsnick, a sophomore at George Mason University and graduate of McLean High School, will be returning to the famed performance hall in January as part of the National Festival Orchestra, a group made up of musicians ranging in age from high school through graduate school.
"I participated in the National Wind Ensemble two years ago, and they invited me to come back for this," Elsnick said.
A flutist since fourth grade and a piccolo player since she was 13, Elsnick said the orchestra will be performing Mahler's First Symphony at the concert.
"They sent us the music along with a recorded performance so we could learn the piece before getting to New York City," she said. "There are four different flute parts in this piece, one is just flute and the other three are flue and piccolo, and there's a seating audition the first day we're there."
Her past performances at Carnegie Hall have been "incredible," she said, but this will be the first trip without knowing anyone else in the orchestra.
"This is going to be a different experience. Plus I'm looking forward to meeting (conductor) Lukas Foss, who's written a lot of flute concertos that I've enjoyed playing over the years," she said.
"She's a musical kind of kid," said Dana Elsnick, Katrina's mother. "Everybody in our family is musical ... but no one else competed. Katrina is by far the most musical one."
Her musical talent was apparent from an early age.
"Her school band director in elementary school arranged a piece for her and another student to play for a duet," Dana Elsnick said. "She also got to perform a solo during her final band concert in high school."
The entire family, including grandparents and a few aunts and uncles, will be making the trip to New York City in a few weeks.
"There are always bigger and better things and places for her to try out," she said.
"The National Youth Orchestra is in its ninth year and is put together through auditions in the spring for the following winter," said Iris Derke, director of special projects for Mid-America Productions, an organization that brings together musicians and conductors from across the country to perform at Carnegie Hall.
"THE MUSICIANS WILL GATHER for the first time a few days before the concert," she said. The days will be filled with activity: seating auditions on Thursday afternoon, all-day rehearsals on Friday and Saturday, a dress rehearsal prior to the concert Sunday evening, followed by a dinner and dancing cruise around Manhattan.
"The seating audition is a chance for the musicians to play with members of the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Broadway Orchestra and Broadway shows and make sure they're prepared for the concert," she said.
In order to be considered for participation in the orchestra, the musicians had to submit a recording of an audition piece along with a letter of recommendation from a teacher or conductor.
"Just for these kids to audition says a lot of their talent," Derke said. "They're the cream of the crop."
Many previous participants of the orchestra have gone on to the Juilliard School of Performing Arts or the Manhattan School of Music and professional musical careers, she said.
"My favorite time of year is the first dress rehearsal, when they walk out on stage for the first time," she said. "That energy, when they play the first note and hear it echo through the hall, it fuels me up for the rest of the year."
"I hope to play professionally in an orchestra someday," Katrina Elsnick said. A musical performance major at GMU, she plays in a flute quartet called Scarlet Sound, which she helped to found.
"This is what I want to do," she said.