Last night (Saturday, August 1), a good-sized audience in Cumberland, Maryland, was treated to a wonderful performance with violinist Sonya Hayes and John McCrary on piano. As one who has been taking violin lessons the past three years, seeing something like this always is bittersweet, as I love hearing the instrument played well, yet I know I never can create those same sounds.
Ms. Hayes has a wonderful future with this instrument, I believe, and is one of the few African-Americans who is playing publicly. That may make her unique, but as she and everyone associated with music knows, there is no affirmative action when it comes to producing the pleasing sounds that the audience wishes to hear.
That being said, I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed the performance and watching this lovely young woman produce some wonderful music from her instrument. She was this year's featured artist for the Alta Schrock Memorial Concert, which is dedicated to early career support of young musicians, and from the reaction of the audience, she clearly did not disappoint. The concert was part of the 2009 "Music at Penn Alps" series that is put on each summer in which accomplished musicians play either at the Penn Alps complex in Grantsville or in Windsor Hall in Cumberland.
It sounds almost trite to point out that great musicians are fundamentally sound, but I will say it, anyway. Ms. Hayes really was a picture of knowing how to play an instrument correctly. Her motion with the bow is flawless and watching her control that bow was a pleasure to watch, and you can bet I watched her carefully (realizing that everything my teaching has been telling me to do was put on display for me to see).
I wish this young woman the very best as she pursues a career as a violin soloist, and I hope to be able to hear her again soon.