By Rick de Yampert
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Percussionist Andrez Garcia has been a professional ever since he first played a snare drum in music class at Manatee Cove Elementary in Orange City.

“She handed me the sticks and told me that was a snare drum,” said Garcia, a senior at New Smyrna Beach High School. “She goes, ‘Flip the switch over there and you turn the snares (rattles) on.’ I’m ‘Like this?’

“I played a roll and she said I was a professional. Ever since then I really wanted to keep going. It’s kind of funny now that I look back at it.”

Andrez indeed has kept going.

The 18-year-old percussionist is one of 13 Volusia County high school seniors who will perform at the 1st Annual Young Musicians’ Showcase. The concert will be at 7 p.m. Thursday April 24 at Mainland High School Auditorium in Daytona Beach.

The concert is being presented by the Daytona Beach Symphony Society, which selected the students through an application process in conjunction with music teachers at area public high schools. Students did not have to audition for the selection committee.

“We’re always looking for things we can do that will inspire and encourage youth to appreciate music, particularly classical music,” said Crystal Romanyszyn, director of development for the symphony society.

“Also, the Symphony Guild’s Past Presidents’ Committee was looking to do something to recognize music in our youth, and bring an awareness to our community of the amazing talent we have right here in our school system.”

The concert also is a fundraising event with proceeds supporting the society’s YES! (Youth Experiencing Symphony) Program.

The student musicians include both instrumentalists and vocalists, and each will perform classical selections solo. Andrez will perform “Africa Hot,” a snare drum solo composed by John Wooton.

The guild’s Past Presidents’ Committee will award $500 to one of the students for outstanding performance at the concert.

“I really enjoy playing for people, putting on entertainment, having fun and expressing myself with the music,” said Andrez, who lives in Edgewater with his mother, Lizette Garcia. “That’s what it’s all about — having fun.”

“He’s a super positive kid — that’s the reason I made him band captain,” said Tyler Losco, director of bands at New Smyrna Beach High. “He’s got this can-do attitude and other kids feed off of that.

“And he has fun with his music. That’s something I learned from him actually: This is supposed to be fun. I was like, ‘Wow, you know you got it more figured out than I do’ (laughs).”

Andrez hopes to attend his “dream” school, Berklee College of Music in Boston, on his way to becoming a professional musician.

“I want to be kind of like the next Mozart, but instead of being the next Mozart I want to be the next Andrez, if that makes any sense,” Andrez said. “I want to change lives, change music, change the way it sounds.”

Other performers at the Young Musicians’ Showcase include: trombonist Justin Peters, New Smyrna Beach High; baritone Michael Truilo and string bassist Evan Musgrave, both of Seabreeze High; clarinetist Abigail Workman of Pine Ridge High; bassoonist Joseph Lauarias, trumpeter Amanda Vasquez and tenor-baritone Richard Hughes, all of Spruce Creek High; and clarinetist Nicole Rivera, saxophonist Alexis Batiste, tenor Jamonte Bruten, soprano Madison Robertson and soprano Sameerah Qudourah, all of Deland High.