Bishop's x-country runner: China trip was all in a life's work
by ED PIPER
Published - 03/07/16 - 01:36 PM | 4955 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Richie Reyes' love for his grandfather translates to a worldliness that many his age can't fathom. PHOTO BY ED PIPER
Richie Reyes' love for his grandfather translates to a worldliness that many his age can't fathom. PHOTO BY ED PIPER
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A conversation with bicultural Richie Reyes can fuel introductions to other cultures and rich historical experiences. The Bishop’s School cross-country runner, who plays the viola for San Diego Youth Symphony, was able to turn his musical instrument into a tour of China with the symphony last summer. Yet, back on this side of the ocean, he has taken in the stories of his mother’s father, Enrique, who participated in the student protests in Mexico leading up to the 1968 Summer Olympics and who barely got out with his life in the brutal suppression of that movement.

The 5-feet-4, 135-pound senior, who also runs the 800 meters and 1600 meters for the Knights’ track and field unit in the spring, expects to follow his grandfather Quique (as Enrique is known) into the medical field, studying premedicine at UCSD or another UC campus next fall. Quique is an anesthesiologist who has taught that and philosophy and a visual art called “artes plasticos” at the Universidad Autonoma de Baja California (UABC) as well as at other institutions in Tijuana.

“I think of him as a Renaissance man,” says the admiring grandson from his perch at a lunch table on the Bishop’s campus.

In pursuit of excellence, Reyes, named after his structural engineer father Ricardo, crosses the international border at San Ysidro every weekday morning at 5:20 and begins his return drive from the La Jolla campus at 7:30 at night to minimize traffic and wait times. After last period ends at 2:40, he spends time on homework or thinking through his recent rocket project for physics class, which he undertook with a partner and successfully launched during class.

It is a grueling daily schedule but one that he committed to a long time ago and is successfully carrying out with half his senior year in the books.

“Before the trip to China, I didn’t know what it was going to be like,” says Reyes, a native English and Spanish speaker. “I didn’t know if anybody would attend the concerts (the youth symphony) played at. There were full audiences. I don’t think their culture has as much exposure (as ours) to classical music.”

The youth symphony musicians performed a concert inside the Forbidden City in Beijing, the former residence of the emperor renowned to have 9,999 rooms. Says Reyes, “It was an awesome experience.”

Reyes (whose last name means “king”) and his fellow students also spent four days in the city of Yentai and played in a concert in Shanghai. Shanghai was impressive: “So many skyscrapers,” the young man remembers with awe.

“Because the concert in Shanghai was the closing concert, they invited children, since they aren’t as exposed to classical music. It was a good combination of people who wanted to be at the concert. It was on July 4. We played the ‘1812 Overture’ by Tchaikovsky. It’s used a lot in July 4 events (in the U.S.).”

The San Diegans visited a pre-conservatory in Beijing and were treated to a concert by the high-school-age students who study music there. “Their playing was out of sight,” says the violist. “Their control, precision, tuning. Their performance was perfect.

“They had chamber (small) groups of musicians. Each chamber group had more than one musician. For example, one would play drums, another a horn. They were not playing traditional western instruments. The drums were like timpani (large, round). The horn was like a trumpet with no keys. You had to tune it and play it with your voice.”

Another aspect of the tour to China was the opportunity to travel with the other members of the youth symphony, which Reyes joined a year ago, and get to know them on a different level. What was meaningful for him? “I think working with friends from last year--we’d played together last year--so it was a bonding experience with them. It was an opportunity to share cultural experiences with the people there as well.”

Adam Weiner, cross-country coach at Bishop’s, says Reyes has been a dedicated member of the varsity, though not a star. Richie speaks thoughtfully about his favorite sport, which he has probably participated in for the last time with the conclusion of the fall sports season. He will take to the cinders for the Knights’ track team this spring in his final season there.

Says Reyes, “Running is an essential part of my life, especially with my complicated schedule and lifestyle. Running, being an instinctive basic activity, channels the stress and thoughts that I have during the day into physical motion. It’s some kind of therapy. While running with the cross-country team, my mind and body work in the moment as I try to control my breathing and pace.

“With all the movement in my life, focusing on running also spawns time to reflect on what I’m doing at school and in my music career. I get the opportunity to connect with my fellow cross-country team members and share my thoughts. I’ve never been so close to a group of friends in my life. We bond with the intense workouts and races, always supporting each other.

“Adam Weiner, a highly experienced runner, encourages us to do our best. He not only shares his wisdom on running long distance but also on life in general. I’d say he’s both a mentor and a coach. I’ll never forget the four years I ran cross-country.”

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