Alum Spotlight: Jessica Reinis

Publication date: 
September 12, 2013

We sat down with Jessica Reinis, a flutist who played with the San Diego Youth Symphony (SDYS) Philharmonia and the Symphonic Orchestra from 2000 to 2005, to see what she’s been up to since she graduated. Continue reading to find out her favorite SDYS memory, her experience at CNN and ABC News in New York City, and her tip to current SDYS members.


Share your favorite memory of playing with SDYS?

Ahh! It's so hard to pick. I loved performing on stage at Copley Symphony Hall.  My senior year it was such a thrill to lead the flute section. In college, my sophomore year I played at Weill Hall (part of Carnegie Hall) in New York and I remember playing Copland in this very exposed section and imagining I was back in San Diego onstage at Copley so it wasn't so scary. It worked! The performance was great.


What did you do after graduating from SDYS?

I attended Barnard College at Columbia University in New York and graduated in 2009 with a degree in Political Science. While at Barnard, I was part of a joint program with the Manhattan School of Music where I took flute lessons with Linda Chesis for three years and also performed in Columbia's orchestra.


We hear you work in television news as the Senior Administrative Assistant to CNN anchor Erin Burnett. What’s that like?

As Erin's assistant, I manage her schedule, expenses and travel and also help her with research for big interviews. I have traveled with her for breaking news to help her book guests in the field for her primetime show. In my spare time I write articles for Erin's CNN blog. Check it out at I've also booked big sit down interviews for the show with Maria Sharapova and Shawn Johnson.


When I graduated from Columbia, I started working full time for ABC News, first as a teleprompter operator on the set of Good Morning America and then as the Production Coordinator and Assistant to the Executive Producer of their breaking news department, Special Events. I fell in love with television mainly because of the adrenaline rush that I got when news was breaking. That nervous and exciting energy reminded me a lot of how I felt onstage during a musical performance.


What’s the coolest project you worked on while at ABC?

At ABC, I helped produce the live coverage of the Royal Wedding and the election. I also did red carpet reporting.


How has music enriched your life?

The flute got me to New York. I definitely think it set me apart and helped me get into college. I also probably would have never worked in network news. I still spend most of the day listening to Brahms and Tchaikovsky and dissuade my colleagues from picking Taylor Swift for the background of their television segments.


If you could tell a young SDYS musician one thing you learned while participating in SDYS, what would you tell them?

Take a quiet moment on stage, especially if you're at Copley Symphony Hall, before a big performance. Look at the orchestra warming up around you and out at the audience. Take a deep breath and soak it in. If you don't end up being a professional musician, that high energy flashbulb moment will be one that you remember for the rest of your life. It's a supportive environment with your friends and family in the audience and a wonderful mentor, Mr. Edmons, out there with you. It's something to cherish and remember.


What is your happiest moment from SDYS? What's your worst memory?

I adored playing Principal Flute in SDYS my senior year of high school. There was a lot of pressure with college applications and conservatory audition tapes, but leading the flute section was my fantasy all through high school and I had to pinch myself that whole year when it finally became a reality. I was pretty proud. I lived about an hour away from Balboa Park so I always worried that I would be late to rehearsal. I remember traffic being bad on the way to Monday night sectionals and thinking 'oh god... they're going to kill me!' But we somehow always made it without a speeding ticket. I'm very much indebted to my parents who always drove me to rehearsals and back home. 

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