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Cleveland grad conducts orchestra

by: Metropolitan Youth Symphony, Just graduated from Cleveland High, and with his tux slung over his shoulder and a croissant in hand, Justin Ralls stands ready to conduct the Metropolitan Youth Symphony in his own composition.

The Metropolitan Youth Symphony concert on Sunday, June 11th, was an official Rose Festival event, and featured several youthful guest conductors. One of these was a 2006 graduate of Cleveland High School: Justin Ralls. Justin was the principal drummer for the school's jazz band, a student conductor, and a member of the state championship-winning Cleveland High choir.

Ralls was recently awarded 'Outstanding Musician' at the Clackamas Jazz Festival, Northwest Jazz Band Festival, and the Cleveland High recognition assembly. Ralls co-wrote and directed an original musical, and premiered his first symphonic piece in 2005. He conducted it at all four venues on the Metropolitan Youth Symphony's European tour, and conducted it again in the June 11th concert. He plans to premier his ballet at the Boston Conservatory, where he will begin studies this fall.

At the June 11th concert, the Metropolitan Youth Symphony offered 'a unique musical combination of modern chamber pop,' according to the Symphony, 'influenced by a number of world music traditions and symphonic melodies.' The Portland group Three Leg Torso performed with the Symphony at the concert.