A Cyclone French horn player has earned a coveted first-chair spot at the upcoming Colorado All-State Orchestra.

Colby Kleven has dedicated his life to music since age 6 and now the Pueblo West High School junior is reaping the benefits.

“I started at age 6 taking piano lessons from my grade school teacher and I did that until middle school. In sixth grade I ended up learning saxophone,” Kleven recalled.

Saxophone requires use of both hands, so when I hurt a finger on my right hand in seventh grade, I picked up the French horn,” he said.

“The French horn resonated so well with me that I decided to stick with it. I literally taught myself - no lessons - until the end of my freshman year,” he said.

Kleven continues to take lessons today. Although he doesn’t take piano lessons any longer, he still tickles the ivories from time to time.

Kleven’s first experience with all-state orchestra came last year when he auditioned to get in. The audition required him to send in a recording of himself playing several pieces.

“I did get in. I landed around third chair with the philharmonic and that was my first experience with the all-state orchestra,” he said.

This year Kleven auditioned again and this time he landed the first-chair spot with the symphonic orchestra. The first-chair honor is bestowed upon the most accomplished musician for that instrument.

He said is looking forward to breaking in his new French horn and performing with a different orchestra because, “The symphonic orchestra has more horns.”

Kleven will travel to Fort Collins in early February where he and his fellow musicians will spend two very long days rehearsing their performance pieces. The entire orchestra will then give a one-evening concert Feb. 9.

In the meantime he is working toward auditioning with the Colorado All-State Band as well.

“Hopefully I can land a spot there. We haven’t had anyone from Pueblo West get into that in a while,” he said.

As a senior, Kleven won’t get a break from auditioning next year.

“Next year I will audition for colleges,” he said.

tharmon@chieftain.com