Student-led Carmel Valley Summer Symphony promises a ‘haven for music nerds’


A group of Canyon Crest Academy musicians is running its fourth annual Carmel Valley Summer Symphony this summer. Sign-ups are now open for the free, two-week intensive program that runs from Aug. 12-22 at Carmel Valley Middle School, capping off with a final performance on Aug. 23 at Canyon Crest Academy’s Proscenium Theatre.

CV Summer Symphony (CVSS) is a student run and student produced orchestra intensive that brings together musicians ranging from seventh grade to the first year of college. It includes opportunities to play with full orchestration (strings and winds) as well as chamber groups which include brass choirs, jazz groups, or string quartets. The groups are coached by professionals such as Paul Wang, guests from the La Jolla Symphony directed by CCA seniors Esther Jung, a pianist and violinist who founded the CV Summer Symphony, and Mia Redelings, a violinist, pianist and flautist who has discovered a love for conducting and began studying at the pre-professional level.

Esther, who has played in over 15 different orchestras in principal chairs, founded the CV Summer Symphony in 2016. She and her friends were graduating from Carmel Valley Middle School and they wanted to have one last final performance as a tribute to their time at the school and to their conductor—the performance acted as a fundraiser for the music program.

The CV Summer Symphony has grown up a lot since that first year, when they used to practice in someone’s living room. Now they have their own practice and performance venues and a growing level of interest, many musicians have returned over the years.

“I could not be more proud and enthusiastic about how I have built an atmosphere where students can not only improve and study classical literature, but thrive and laugh with a family of like-minded friends. People may look at this from the outside and see it as a scheme for college applications, but I remind everyone that the Summer Symphony was created in a place of joy. A place where the only motivations we had were to come together as friends to share our passion for music, and that is the central message I want to pass on for years to come as this program is passed down in our San Diego community,” said Esther.

“The Summer Symphony is a break from all of the academic and college competition in our neighborhood; it is a haven for music nerds to reunite, grow, and enjoy the music for what it is.”

Again this year, the final performance will act as a platform for donations for local school music programs, a cause close to all of the student leaders’ hearts.

In addition to Esther and Mia, other student symphony leaders include Gabby Kang who plays trumpet, Patricia Hsieh who plays clarinet, and cellist Diana Reid.

“We have 50 sign-ups so far, it’s been interesting,” Gabby said. “This is the most we’ve ever had…and we hope to get even more.”

The Symphony intensive also includes a Concerto Competition where students can apply to have a change to perform a solo with the orchestra at the Aug. 23 show. Those interested must submit a YouTube video of a concerto, sonata or virtuosic piece when they are signing up for the intensive.

For more information or to sign up, visit