Violinist Isabella recently spent part of the summer in Burlington, Vermont, where she participated in the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival, a four-week program of study, practice and performance opportunities for young string players. During the festival, students like Isabella devoted their mornings to practice, then held group rehearsals after lunch. Concert performances from students and faculty lasted well into the evening.
Opportunities like the Green Mountain Festival are ideal for aspiring musicians like Isabella. Only 16 years old, she has been playing the violin since she began attending the Suzuki program at the Wyoming Fine Arts Center around the age of 6. “When I listened to CDs as a child,” she says, “the violin just really stood out to me.” And it continues to capture her imagination. “I like that it’s very calming. If you focus on it, you can forget everything else.”
Isabella is an accomplished violinist, who received a scholarship from the Walnut Hills Alumni Association, and was also a finalist in the Cincinnati Arts Association’s Overture Awards, a scholarship competition from which she used her earnings to attend the Green Mountain Festival (the Festival also provided her with a scholarship). She will soon audition for her third year with the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra (CYSO), a program for students in grades 9 – 12 who come together from all over the Tri-State for weekly rehearsals. The CYSO are invited to multiple performance opportunities throughout the year, with a joint performance with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra at Music Hall to highlight the experience.
“Performing is great, because you can share how hard you worked on a piece,” says Isabella, who currently studies with Dr. Won Bin Yim at UC’s College Conservatory of Music. The two meet once or twice a week throughout the year, while Isabella does much practice on her own — a typical school day has her practicing the violin right after school and before her 5 p.m. lesson, then home for dinner and schoolwork, where she often listens to violin recordings while completing her assignments. “If I don’t have much homework, I will get to practice another hour or so,” she says.
At only 16, Isabella is already very aware of the competitive and subjective nature of a life in the arts. “You can psyche yourself out for a performance,” she says, “and there’s a lot of competition.” She says that she participates in music competitions sometimes because she finds they help her to improve. “You realize it’s out of your hands,” she says.
Isabella’s future may include UC’s College Conservatory of Music, performing even more, and possibly teaching music to others one day. “I grew up looking up to Hilary Hahn,” she says. “I’m drawn to the way she performs, it’s really emotional, and her technique is just awesome. She’s had an amazing career.”