Violinist strings performance at all-state orchestra

Repetition pays dividends for musicians.

Just ask Trumbull native Eunji Lee, who’s been playing the violin six hours a week since she was 6 years old.

The Sacred Heart Academy student has begun to reap the fruit of her hard work, earning a second consecutive invitation to participate in the Connecticut Music Educators Association (CMEA) regional auditions for all-state choir, band and orchestra at the Waterbury Arts Magnet School, where she performed on Saturday, Nov. 21.

“In my first year, it was a lot scarier,” she said, comparing her two auditions in front of a three-judge panel.

“I didn’t know what to expect and I was very nervous.”

Her nerves settled this time around, as her practice over the last year has allowed her to learn more than ever about the violin.

“The more you play, the easier it becomes,” Eunji said. “It takes a long time to get used to, but I’ve had a lot of great teachers who I’ve learned from. …

“Each teacher has a different style,” she added. “You take in all you can while you’re with them because they have so much to give you — so much to offer about how to perform certain pieces and building your technique as a musician.”

One of the highlights of Eunji’s musical career was playing at Carnegie Hall as part of a regional youth orchestra when she was 13 years old.

In addition to violin, Eunji used to play piano and likes to play tennis when she’s not in school. She said she picked up the violin when she was young because she thought it would be cool to learn an instrument.

“I’ve always enjoyed classical music,” she said. “I like listening to pop, too — Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift, stuff like that.”

While the string instrument has been an important part of her life, the high schooler doesn’t know if she’d want to continue music professionally.

“I think being a member of a professional orchestra is a long shot, but I would really like to play in my college orchestra when I get there,” she said. “I’m only a sophomore, so I’m not really sure yet.”

Selection process

Each year, CMEA judges select the best area musicians for an All State Band, Choir, Orchestra, and Jazz Band on both the middle school and high school levels. This is done through a multi-layered audition process based on the location of the school. Students first audition at the regional level; Sacred Heart is in the Southern district. Students prepare scales and specific pieces for the audition and are expected to sight read as well. Trained public school music teachers from throughout Connecticut serve as judges. If students do well enough at regionals, they move on to All State auditions in January, and from there some are invited to perform in the All State Festival with the best high school musicians in the state. Sacred Heart has had five students participate in the All State Festival in the last 10 years. It is an extremely competitive process!

A wide variety of opportunities for growth in the fine and performing arts nurtures future artists, actors, and musicians as well as students who simply want to explore the wealth of fine arts experiences available at the academy. Students engage as singers, actors, dancers, painters, sculptors, photographers, and technicians. Teachers provide a supportive environment that encourages creativity and the expansion of young minds through hands-on experience. Through courses in music, drama, media production, and the visual arts, students learn to appreciate beauty through aesthetic awareness, to evaluate, and to think and learn in an active and artistic manner.