LATHROP (ALASKA) VIOLINIST NAMED CONCERTMASTER FOR KENNEDY CENTER SHOW
by Dermot Cole, Jun 25, 2011
FAIRBANKS — It was only natural Taylor and Kendra Frey would be introduced to classical music at an early age. The daughters of two classical musicians, teacher Sheryl Frey and the late John Frey, they began learning the violin as preschoolers.
I interviewed them a couple of weeks ago and asked why they became such good musicians. They both giggled a bit and didn’t say anything, as if by answering the question they might be guilty of taking themselves too seriously. But I don’t think that’s going to happen.
I mention them today because these two young ladies have had several noteworthy artistic accomplishments in recent months.
This afternoon in Washington D.C., the National High School Honor Orchestra will give a concert at the Kennedy Center. Kendra, who will be a senior in the fall at Lathrop High School, has been chosen as the concertmaster of this collection of all-stars, making her the principal violinist. The orchestra, conducted by Ryan McAdams of the New York Youth Symphony, consists of 76 outstanding musicians from throughout the country, chosen by the Music Educators National Conference.
A few months before being selected for this group, Kendra was a winner in the annual Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition. This was the third time she received that honor. She was a soloist at the symphony concert May 1. Kendra, 17, is the concertmaster of the Fairbanks Youth Symphony and performs with the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra and the Arctic Chamber Orchestra.
Her sister and her mother plan to be in the audience today in the nation’s capital to watch her play. A month ago, Sheryl and Kendra were in the audience at Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota when Taylor was on stage for a solo performance with the Gustavus Symphony. Taylor, 20, the concertmaster of the college orchestra, won a competition among her peers for the opportunity to perform as a soloist on a violin concerto by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. She said that is her favorite piece of music, both for playing and listening, and she spent months practicing it every day between classes.
Taylor, who will be a junior in the fall at Gustavus, is majoring in biology, with a minor in music. She said she never wants to stop playing the instrument she began learning in preschool, but she has no intention of trying to play professionally.
Playing the violin is her passion, she says. She doesn’t want it to ever become work.
Kendra, who expects to major in chemistry at college, said she feels the same way. Both of them have won state and regional honors for their artistry. “Playing the violin means everything to me,” Kendra said. “I love being a musician and though I don’t plan to play professionally, I do plan to play for the rest of my life.”
For both of these two, the day isn’t complete without an hour or two of practice, which they see as the only means open for self-improvement. They began as students of Jean Krause in Fairbanks. Kendra remains a student of Kathleen Butler-Hopkins at UAF.
“Playing music is transforming,” Taylor said, “It becomes part of your entire being.”