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June 2014
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How Good is Music Education in Chicago?

20-year-old Arianna Smith

20-year-old Arianna Smith

Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts, LIVE on Wednesdays at 12:15 pm


On Wednesday the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts welcomes 20-year-old violist Arianna Smith in what’s really a homecoming. She grew up in St. Charles, Illinois, but has been studying at the Colburn School in Los Angeles. As a product of Chicago’s music community, Arianna has both the local perspective on music education as well as a national one. As far as she’s concerned, it’s a good community for young players.

“Chicago youngins overpopulated the Colburn School. The Music Institute and Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra turn out some of the best young musicians I have been privy to.”

—Arianna Smith

There was a lot of music in her home. Her older siblings played multiple instruments. “I wanted to be just like them,” she said. It was her mother who laid down the law, however: “[she] never let me quit anything that I started. Something that I am only now thankful for.”

Arianna Smith admits, “It wasn’t until around 6th or 7th grade that I enjoyed practicing for myself and didn’t need the extra nudge.” She also had the benefit of studying with the renowned instructor Roland Vamos at the Music Institute of Chicago.

When she and three other students formed a quartet, Arianna offered to play viola, a larger instrument. As the Aurelia String Quartet, they won the gold medal at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. They played on WFMT’s Introductions, and Live from WFMT − one of the rare instances in which pre-college musicians have been on the Monday night series.

At age 16, Arianna Smith went to Los Angeles, “Chicago youngins overpopulated the Colburn School. The Music Institute and Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra turn out some of the best young musicians I have been privy to. With one of the best orchestras as well (Chicago Symphony Orchestra), there is just an abundance of great teachers and institutions available.”

Coming to Chicago to play the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts will be but a brief visit. She’s moving from Los Angeles to Paris.

She’s realistic about joining a quartet: “My passion has always been in string quartets, but finding four people who create beautiful music and can handle the personalities outside of rehearsal is a tall order. I’ll be happy as long as I am playing.”

Arianna Smith will perform with pianist Kay Kim on the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts series at the Chicago Cultural Center. The concert will be broadcast live on WFMT, Wednesday, June 11 at 12:15 pm.

 

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