Haley van Meurs, a junior at Inglemoor High School, will be performing a violin solo concerto with the Cascade Youth Symphony Orchestra (CYSO) at 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 6.
Haley, who has been playing the instrument since she was 5 years old, will be performing the violin concerto in E-minor Op. 64, Movement I, by German composer Felix Mendelssohn.
“I went to a concert around when I was 5 years old, before I started,” said Haley. “It was a violin concert. I watched and I was just enthralled by the playing and the sound and the whole experience, and I was like, ‘Hey I want to play the violin,’ to my mom.”
Haley mentioned her mother wanted her to pick up an instrument because her mother and her sister both played the piano at the time.
Haley began her violin lessons with Jennifer Sokol, who has over 40 years of experience as a performer and teacher.
“I started with Jenny when I was five and she’s definitely a tough teacher—she doesn’t go easy, even if you’re young but she is excellent,” said Haley. “I’ve had lessons from other teachers before, but I never quite liked it, or it wasn’t as effective as what Jenny has done for me.”
CYSO is an organization that encourages and challenges talented young musicians. By 2013, Haley joined the CYSO summer program, and in 2015 she began their year-round program.
Haley mentioned how she has learned a great amount from the instructors and conductors at CYSO and believes the organization has assisted with her violin playing development in ways that could not be achieved outside of playing in a group.
“It’s a different experience and getting to play as a group, you get to hear all the different instruments and how it blends together, and you need to understand that you’re not the most important part, but you’re still a crucial part to the entire orchestra,” said Haley.
For her upcoming solo concerto, Haley began practicing the Mendelssohn piece over one year ago.
“I’ve played it for a little while, then I took a break or two, but I was preparing this piece for the concerto competition,” said Haley.
While practicing for the concerto competition, Haley relayed how she listened to many recordings of violinists playing the piece to better understand the way in which it should sound, as well as different interpretations of the piece.
“A lot of slow practice goes into playing it because there’s lots of tricky, fast sections, so you’ve got to learn those notes really well to the point where it’s kind of muscle memory,” said Haley.
Haley mentioned how after she tackles the smaller, trouble sections, she practices going through the piece to make sure she can play it in full with little to no errors.
According to Haley, she’s been trying to convince her teacher to let her play the Mendelssohn piece for years, and Sokol finally caved in.
“It’s a very famous violin concerto and I’ve always really loved it. It’s just so full of emotion,” said Haley. “It’s complicated yet there’s so many different layers of the piece and it’s really pretty.”
Part of the reason Haley chose to perform the Mendelssohn piece is due to her grandmother.
“It was my grandmother’s favorite violin concerto. When she heard that I was interested in that piece, she was very excited and she was like, ‘I love this concerto! I got to see a famous violinist perform it when I was younger,’ so I was especially drawn to the piece because of that,” said Haley.
Haley’s grandparents flew up from California to watch their granddaughter perform the concerto. Haley brought up how they have been extremely supportive of her violin playing, and she’s incredibly excited for them to attend the special day.
Looking towards her future, Haley sees herself playing throughout college and her adult life. She hopes to continue improving as a violinist due to her love for the instrument.
“I love it and I hope I get to continue to play in groups after high school,” said Haley. “I want to become a doctor, so I’m not going to major in music, but I definitely want to do it as a side thing or continue lessons of some sorts.”
On top of her love for the violin, Haley is fascinated by all-things science and is fond of the practical application of medicine.
“I have worked at a hospital before over the summer, and it was a neat experience to work with various health professionals. It’s kind of cliché, but [I want] to help out people,” said Haley.
The upcoming performance will take place at the Shoreline Center. It will be CYSO’s first concert of 2022, and will feature another solo concerto performer, Maisie Grosskopf.
Tickets for general admission are $18 and can be purchased at https://www.tickettailor.com/events/cascadeyouthsymphonyorchestra/634800