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Local Musician Plays Dual Instruments

Violist performs at The Lyceum.

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Kaleigh Acord

Fairfax Station Violist Kaleigh Elizabeth Acord will perform with Russian pianist Irina Kats, Sunday, Dec. 21 at 7:30 p.m. at The Lyceum, 201 S. Washington St. The program will include Bartok, Bach and Brahms. Free. 703-838-4994 or recitalprogramsandpromotions@verizon.net.

<b>Introduce yourself or the band:

</b>I am a 17-year-old high school senior. A classical musician, I perform on both violin and viola.

<b>How did you get your start in music and how long have you been performing?

</b>I began piano lessons at age 7, and took up violin and viola at age 11. I have been performing almost as long as I have been playing music.

<b>What is it that you love about performing?

</b>I find my greatest satisfaction in knowing that I have crossed the bridge between technicality and musicality, conquered all my personal demons, and succeeded in communicating something truly meaningful to an audience.

<b>What is your best memory when it comes to music?

</b>I do not have a single best musical memory. But every time I play respectably at a performance I was nervous about, I am on cloud nine for the rest of the night — sometimes the rest of the week. It’s also extremely rewarding to go back to a piece you struggled with a while ago, only to realize that all those passages that were so perplexing are much more manageable.

<b>Where is your favorite place to play, either publicly or personally?

</b>Retirement and nursing home audiences are so appreciative; I adore them and love to play for them. As for venue and acoustics alone, I am quite fond of the Lyceum, which is fortunate since I perform there relatively frequently.

<b>Best compliment about a performance?

</b>All the compliments that I have appreciated most have been those regarding my ability to command the stage. As a performer, it’s your goal to have everyone so wrapped up in your musical messages that they almost forget to blink.

<b>What is your favorite piece of music and why?

</b>There are many pieces of music near and dear to my heart. My current favorite, however, is Brahms’ "Double Concerto for Violin and Cello." It’s got everything: brilliantly voiced interplay between the two solo instruments, flashy virtuosity, shimmering nostalgia, unforgiving flirtatiousness, dark mysteriousness, utter ferocity … and beyond. The emotional color palette is astounding.

<b>Describe your sound:

</b>I like to think that I have not one sound, but many. I have recently become more aware of the fact that within any one piece or movement, there are separate characters represented by different motifs or harmonies. My job as a performer is to give each of these characters an individual voice. As a possible juxtaposition: a ghostly, mysterious character should have a chalky, quivering, uncertain voice; a sprightly character should have a bright, resilient voice.

<b>Biggest musical influences:

</b>While there are several composers I revere highly, I undoubtedly have the strongest connection with Brahms. My strengths lie in fiery brilliance and warm sentimentality, which are both integral parts of Brahms’ musical vocabulary.

<b>Where have you toured?

</b>I have not toured anywhere officially, but I do enjoy making the rounds of local retirement and nursing homes.

<b>Anything special about the upcoming show?

</b>There are few pieces written specifically and originally for the viola, and Bela Bartok’s spectacular "Viola Concerto" is one of them. It is both technically and musically demanding, and is written extremely intricately. Bartok was very interested in European folk music, some of which he wove into the Concerto (as well as many other works). Bartok also made use of "continuing variation"—the concept of taking one musical theme or motif, dissecting it, and using isolated aspects to create what sound like new themes. However, if you go back to the score of the piece with a knowing eye, it’s clear that it all relates.

<b>Future plans:

</b>I have applied for fall 2009 conservatory admission.

<b>What would you recommend to someone starting out in the business?

</b>Try out as many different types of music as possible, and find which one(s) suit you best. Knowing your strengths will help you to better recognize and deal with your weaknesses. Never try to squelch your personality in your music; the audience is interested in your unique temperament, not how many notes you make or miss, what note you didn’t articulate quite correctly, or what bow stroke you wish you’d had more time to perfect.

<b>Any parting thoughts?

</b>When it comes to practice, it’s quality, not quantity. Every musician has a maximum of concentration time in a day. Therefore, it’s essential to make the time you spend with your instrument as densely productive as possible. Making an effort to practice more efficiently can get you more mileage than simply increasing your overall time. Ten minutes spent on a couple difficult measures is ultimately going to yield better results than 30 minutes spent "running through" a piece, neglecting spots that need extra attention.