Award From Reagan Will Sound High Note for Young Trumpeter
Four years of academic labor in high school usually pays off with the hoopla surrounding a graduation ceremony, but senior Ryan Anthony is going to miss out.
When more than 300 of his peers walk across the stage at Mount Miguel High School in El Cajon next Wednesday, the 18-year-old nationally acclaimed trumpeter will be at the White House receiving a Presidential Scholar medallion from President Reagan.
But the young man is facing his presidential honor with teen-age ambivalence.
“I’ve been looking forward to graduation since I was a freshman,” Anthony said. “I was going to sit on the front row wearing those yellow (mortarboard) chords because I’m in the top 10% of my class. They were going to have me play the Star-Spangled Banner, but now I don’t get to do that.
“It hurts a little. I’ll miss it a lot, but in the years (ahead) I’ll remember doing this Presidential Scholar award more.”
Anthony will share his national honor with his father, Roy Anthony Jr., who is also his most influential teacher and his band director. So influential, in fact, that Anthony nominated his father for a presidential Distinguished Teacher Award, which he will receive from President Reagan.
“This is the highlight of my life,” Roy Anthony Jr. said of his son’s honor. “It is a double thrill to see him as a father and as a teacher. I know he’s worked very hard for this. He is representative of the kids in this area.”
Anthony’s Washington itinerary also includes a breakfast with Barbara Bush, wife of the vice president, a lunch with Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, and a private meeting with California Sens. Pete Wilson and Alan Cranston and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Coronado).
Anthony--who will also be accompanied by his mother, Ruby Anthony, and grandfather, Roy Anthony Sr.--said he respects all of the dignitaries he will be meeting regardless of whether he believes in their policies. “There’s not really anyone higher you can meet. But I have no idea what I will say to them,” he said.
Last spring, Anthony won critical acclaim when he performed the Haydn Trumpet Concerto with the Cleveland Orchestra. He was also the winner of the National Arts Foundation Competition held in Florida, and was one of 20 high school students nationwide selected by the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars in the category of fine arts. The award is known as the highest achievement possible for a high school student, and recognizes Anthony for his musical and academic successes.
Not surprisingly, Anthony will open the weeklong Presidential Scholar festivities on Monday with a solo performance of Alexander Arutunian’s Trumpet Concerto at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Anthony, who started playing the trumpet at the age of 9, said making music gives him great satisfaction. He spends about five hours a day rehearsing or performing. While it’s obviously apparent that the hard work has paid off, the slender, curly-haired blond humbly bows his head at the mention of the word “prodigy.”
“I don’t know if I am, because I can’t hear myself as others do,” he said. “I know there are a phenomenal number of young artists out there. But if anything, that word makes me work. Because if I am one, I wouldn’t like to go down. And if I’m not one, I’d like to be one.”
Anthony will attend the Cleveland Institute of Music in the fall on a full four-year scholarship and hopes to become a professional soloist.