Third level: Students who audition into this level perform more complex pieces. Audition requires performing a piece and playing into fourth position. Sixth grade and above with some exceptions.
Connect with the Junior Team
Stuart Hake has deep roots with the Peninsula Youth Orchestra: When PYO first began, he conducted all three orchestras for the first year. He's also taught at every summer string camp.
Music has been a big part of his life since he began playing the piano in kindergarten (his mother was a piano teacher) while growing up in upstate New York. By high school, he was playing the cello and flute as well. The cello was his chosen instrument when he entered the University of Arizona in Tucson as a cello performance major; while there, he played with both the Tucson Symphony Orchestra and the Arizona Opera Company.
From Arizona, Stuart traveled to New Jersey, where he obtained his masters degree in cello performance from Rutgers University. In 1995, Stuart arrived in Tacoma and taught for a time in the Clover Park School District and for Pacific Lutheran University before landing at Annie Wright School, where he was the strings and orchestra instructor until recently moving over to teach for Tacoma School District. He's also played cello for 12 years for the Tacoma Opera, eight of those as the principal cellist, and for five years he was the assistant principal cellist with the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra.
In addition to teaching for PYO, Stuart gives private cello lessons (in 2010, he received the "Outstanding String Educator" Award for private studio teaching from the Washington chapter of the American String Teachers Association). It's a busy schedule, but one he doesn't mind. "Kids are so amazing to work with," he says. "You have a new favorite person to see every 45 minutes."
Even more than that, he sees it as a privilege to help continue the tradition of music. "Classical music is like the invisible heart of our society," Stuart says, "and I'm so happy I get to help bring this to light and share it with kids."
Little known fact: Following his time at Rutgers, Stuart followed a time-honored tradition and joined an alternative rock band called "Tiny Lights." In two years, he played the electric cello in 150 live shows. The band no longer exists, but something far more enduring came out of this time-he met his wife, Mary. The couple has three children together, all musicians.
Photo by Erin Lund.