Local violinist performs at Carnegie Hall

Katelyn Dill, 17, practices on her violin inside her Edinburg home. Katelyn recently performed with the 2016 National High School Honors Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Rich Cooley/Daily

EDINBURG – Central High School senior Katelyn Dill recently played at the prestigious Carnegie Hall in New York City, as a violinist with the National High School Honors Symphony Orchestra.

Katelyn, 17,  was among 37 other violinists selected from around the world to perform Feb. 17  as part of the orchestra. There were 44 states and seven countries represented in the group.

“It was an amazing experience to work with such dedicated and talented musicians,” Katelyn  said.

She said there were around 100 other students who were part of the full orchestra, which included the strings, woodwinds and brass instruments. Katelyn was selected to the first violin section filling the third chair position.

The 30-minute performance included three pieces of classical and contemporary selections; Giuseppe Verdi’s “Overture to Nabucco,” Michael Markowski’s “City Trees,” and Dmitri Shostakovich’s “Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, Allegro non troppo.”

“The sound in that hall is amazing, you just can’t recreate it,” she said.

Conducting the orchestra was Jeffrey Grogan.

“He was awesome. He was one of those conductors that you could tell knew the music so well that it wasn’t about the technique, it was just the music,” she said, “He could just articulate what he wanted the feeling to be and not just the sound. It was just incredible and he was really supportive.”

In order to be a part of the orchestra, she was invited to apply and sent three videos of her playing, along with the standard application. She received the news that she was chosen on Oct. 31.

In December she received the music she would be playing and immediately began practicing.

But after hearing the good news, she needed to raise money through various fundraisers. She said she needed to raise $1,900 to cover tuition and housing costs.

She created a GoFundMe account and raised about a quarter of the funds needed through the site. She also used her talent to fund her trip by performing for various businesses, such as Christina’s Café in Strasburg, as well as performing at an Edward Jones seminar banquet.

Being part of the orchestra also allowed her to experience some of what New York City has to offer. Dill and her family were in the big city from Feb. 4-8.

“I actually really enjoyed it. I was really scared of the city because I’m not a big city person, but it wasn’t too bad. I liked it,” she said of her first visit to New York City.

She stayed in the Hilton New York and practiced in the hotel’s ballroom before the big performance.

But it wasn’t all work for Katelyn. While in New York, she saw a Broadway play, took a bus and walking tour of the city and went on a nighttime cruise of the Hudson River.

While her experience at Carnegie Hall was one to remember, this wasn’t Katelyn’s first major performance.

She has performed at the Wintergreen Summer Music Festival in Wintergreen, Virginia, as first violin, first chair. Those chosen to be a part of the ensemble were between the ages of 17 and 26. Only six high school students were chosen from around the world, and Katelyn was among them.

Keeping up with her music is a priority for Katelyn.

She practices about three hours every day to keep up with everything she has going on, including college auditions, the school orchestra and state auditions.

Katelyn has always been musically inclined. She began playing the violin in sixth grade at Peter Muhlenberg Middle School.

“I kept going and here we are now,” she said.

She began private instruction in ninth grade and played youth orchestras outside of the county, “and that’s probably where I really started to improve and develop,” she said.

At Central High School she is the concert master of the string orchestra and has been playing with Central’s orchestra for six years.

In addition to her expertise with the violin, she has begun to work with the viola and the banjo to increase her knowledge of various stringed instruments.

“With the banjo, my aunt plays the banjo and I always thought it was so fun to watch her and just so entertaining. I still haven’t figured out how they move their fingers that fast, but I’m working on it,” she added.

This preparation is part of her goal of studying music education at George Mason University or West Virginia University. She is also considering a master’s degree in violin performance.

“I just have to see where it all takes me,” she said.

To prepare her for the skills she will need as a music education major, she privately instructs four students from the ages of 7 to 13. She teaches about four lessons each week for beginners to the violin.

“It’s a good time,” she said.

In her free time, she keeps music a part of her life. She is a new member to an Americana Folk band, Troubadour, which began this past summer. Katelyn joined in October and has played at multiple venues so far, including local cafés and lounges.

“It’s a good break from all the Bach and Mozart,” she said.

When she plays just for fun in her free time, she has a few pieces she gravitates toward.

One of her favorite pieces to play is John Williams’ Schindler’s List. “That’s always my go-to piece. It’s so beautiful,” she said.

Another favorite is Mozart’s Concerto No. 5 for violin. “I plan to learn that whole piece in its entirety.”

She also has some experience composing her own pieces.

“I have dabbled with arranging different songs,” she said, “My problem is that I always compose the piece and then it’s too hard for me to play so I don’t get to enjoy it.”

Even with all of her musical success, she said she still feels anxiety when auditioning and performing.

“I’ll put a lot of weight on an audition coming up or a performance coming up and then I won’t enjoy it, but I’ve been trying not to do that. I try to enjoy what I’m doing because I like to do it,” she said.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com