Student Spotlight: Lucas Das

On stage at Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center in Chicago, playing in an orchestra for the first time in over two years, together with students from across the country, Levine student Lucas Das lifts his bow to perform in the first National Pathways Summit Festival Orchestra.

Lucas Das is a rising junior at Bethesda Chevy Chase High School and has studied cello at Levine since he was four years old. Lucas has been a part of the Honors Program since 2016 and is currently a student of Henry Stubbs. Last spring, Lucas was selected to participate in the National Pathways Summit Festival Orchestra in Chicago. The Festival and Summit brought together students and educators from ten Musical Pathways programs from across the country for three days of activities celebrating the talent and hard work of young Pathways students and the programs where they study. Lucas was one of three students representing the Washington Musical Pathways Initiative (WMPI).

WMPI is a talent development program for middle and high school musicians who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and want to pursue advanced study in music. Levine is honored to be a partner of WMPI alongside the Kennedy Center, National Symphony Orchestra (NSO), and the DC Youth Orchestra Program (DCYOP), which provides musical and non-musical supports (e.g., financial, instructional, academic, family, social-emotional, etc.) to assist talented young musicians who have been historically excluded from classical music due to systemic racism. The Initiative is part of a larger program with the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s “Pathways” program which, with an award of $3 million in grant funding, will champion a collective approach to creating a more inclusive American classical music community in the Baltimore-Washington corridor.

In Chicago, Lucas attended rehearsals led by Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s assistant director Lina Gonzales-Granados. Lucas enjoyed meeting the other students in the program, attending a college fair and speaking with music school representatives, visiting Cloud Gate “the Bean” in Millennium Park, and going on a Chicago River architecture tour. The weekend concluded with an open rehearsal conducted by Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Music Director Riccardo Muti with the National Pathways Summit Festival Orchestra playing alongside musicians from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, and the Chicago Sinfonietta.

Lucas remarked, “This was a very exciting experience. It has been two years since I had been able to play with an orchestra, and it felt great to be part of a large group making music together.” His favorite part of the weekend was performing in the open rehearsal and he found Riccardo Muti to be a dynamic conductor.

In addition to participating in Pathways, Lucas recently won 1st place in Levine’s Marlin Engel Solo Competition in the senior instrumental division. He tied for 1st place for advanced cello in Washington Performing Art’s Joseph & Goldie Feder Memorial String Competition and in the King’s Peak International Music Competition. He also qualified for nationals at the OPUS Music Competition.

Outside of music, Lucas enjoys architecture, engineering, and playing board games. His favorite subjects are math, science, and engineering. This summer, he attended the Ascent International Chamber Music Festival in Cincinnati and was a teen apprentice at Camp Levine.