Rebecca Anne Katz is at her best when she’s in the pits.
The accomplished multi-instrumentalist can sing, bang on the drums and slap the bass — her favorite, however, is playing upright bass in the orchestra pit.
“Orchestras are really good,” the 17-year-old Somerset Area School District student said. “It always sounds perfect.”
“In the balcony (the audience can) look directly at us,” she added, referring to her performances at the Byham Theater in Pittsburgh for shows like “Les Miserables,” “Chess” and “Phantom of the Opera.” “It’s a little intimidating.”
Katz — who was recently named a maid at the 2013 Maple Queen competition in Meyersdale — has had a visible community presence moving to Somerset with her family little more than a year ago. She is an active performing musician, and will be a student representative to the Kiwanis Club during the month of April.
Her move to Pennsylvania started in 2004 when her family relocated to Pittsburgh. It was, she remembered, a big difference from the suburbs of Flagstaff, Ariz., where she was born.
“I remember the Grand Canyon and the warm weather,” she said. “It could snow outside and you could still be in shorts because it wouldn’t be cold.
“Then I come here and it’s freezing,” she added with a smile.
According to Katz, Pittsburgh was remarkably louder than what she was used to in Arizona. There were, however, some perks.
“I got to meet family that I never met before,” she said. “I got to see the Steelers, Pirates and Penguins.”
Watching sporting events in person, she said, turned her into a fan.
“It was just one of those sudden changes,” she added. “It was just so popular. Everyone knew the Steelers.”
Prior to moving in January 2012, she had never even heard of Somerset County. But she said her experience here has been pleasant.
“Everyone is really close,” she said. “I think in the city people aren’t . . . there for you (as much).”
Katz intends to enroll at the University of Richmond as a pre-med major. She said that entering the health care field is a way for her to connect with people beyond music.
“I enjoy helping people,” she said. “It feels good to know that you helped someone.”
Katz, of course, isn’t likely to let schooling mean an end to her passion for music, which she was been involved with since she was 3 or 4 years old. She said it’s a gift she received from her parents — mom, Greta, is a classically trained pianist and singer, while dad, John, is a singer and guitarist who wrote original rock music with bands in Arizona, often experimenting with Native American sounds.
The influence has rubbed off on her siblings, Josh and Alex. Katz said Josh, 16, is a talented guitarist and Alex, 13, is an aspiring drummer and lyricist.
“We’re looking into having a family band,” Katz said, noting that she and Josh played together at Somerfest last year and are scheduled to perform at the school’s talent show later this month. “We all have that ‘musician’s blood.’”
She said they can play a variety of styles depending on the crowd. These include jazz, modern rock and, Katz’s favorite, classic rock ’n’ roll of the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and The Beatles.
Katz said music has personally been second nature to her from the start.
“I just learned different instruments and it became my life.”