• McDaniel Junior Takes Top Honors in State Solo Music Contest

    Beckham Weatherby with music teacher.

    When Beckham Weatherby picks up his tuba, the rest of the world falls away. 

    “I don’t get that nervous and I don’t get stage fright at all,” he said. “I guess I got lucky with how my body reacts to performing in front of crowds.”

    Which is something the McDaniel High School junior has done quite a bit of lately. Not only is he a member of the prestigious Portland Youth Philharmonic (PYP) and the PYP conservatory orchestra, but he recently earned first prize in the tuba solo performance category at the Oregon State Solo Music Championships.

    The state-level solo championships are extremely competitive, and Beckham described coming in first in solo tuba performance as “the biggest experience” of his life.

    “It was so incredible to hear my name spoken at the award ceremony as the champion,” he said. “I have worked so hard to get to this point, not only when I first started practicing my solo, but also since I first started playing the tuba.”

    That was back in seventh grade. Beckham had been playing the euphonium, but he thought the tuba seemed cooler, so he made the switch.

    “I’ve always loved the bass part in any song, so playing the tuba gives me the ability to play the bass role,” he said.

    Beckham’s musical journey has not always run smoothly. When the COVID pandemic shut down schools and, with that, band performances, it seemed that for a while anyway, his ambitions had to hit a brick wall. Still, he persevered, practicing on his own for hours at a time and taking private lessons to hone his craft. When COVID restrictions finally lifted, he auditioned for PYP and earned a coveted spot in the ensemble. That was two years ago. He also got accepted into Oregon’s All-State Band and was nominated for the All Northwest Honors Band.

    As part of PYP’s philharmonic orchestra, Beckham had the opportunity to perform in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New York, accompanying the Grammy award-winning Imani Winds Quintet. Last month, when PYP played its final concert of the season at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Beckham was right there on stage as co-principal tubist, taking it all in.

    “Performing  incredible music with incredible musicians is one of the best things I’ve ever experienced,” he said.