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The BluePrint Online

The student news site of Hagerty High School

The BluePrint Online

The student news site of Hagerty High School

The BluePrint Online

What’s your thing? Laura Chen

Viola player Laura Chen participates in summer Italy tour

 

Hagerty junior Lauren Chen enjoys playing the viola and is part of the Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra. Chen spent her summer in Italy playing outdoor venues in Milan, Pavia, Venice, Perugia, and Rome. (photo by Faye Tomlinson)

She has played with an orchestra in Milan, Venice and Rome but you won’t see Lauren Chen at a high school orchestra concert.

Playing the viola in outdoor venues around Italy was the last thing junior Laura Chen would have expected from her musical career, and yet she played various concerts with an orchestra in Milan, Pavia, Venice, Perugia and Rome over the summer. 

With the Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra she toured in outdoor venues such as Castello Pieve di Porto Morone, an open theater in Abano Terme, and at Piazza Della Liberta in Rome. After the concerts, Chen enjoyed her time visiting different cities around Italy including the city of Cremona, popularly known for the production of violas and violins that were made in  the 16th-18th century.

 

“It was amazing witnessing how music is an international language that brings people together,” Chen said.

It was amazing witnessing how music is an international language that brings people together.

— Laura Chen

 Chen started playing the violin when she was 4, learning from her mom. Then she switched to the viola, which seems like a short jump for the average listener, but it was a world of difference for Chen.

“I’ve heard [my mom] play the viola, and I started to like the sound better because I found the violin to always be high pitched, while [the viola] is warmer and has a mellow sound,” Chen said.

Due to her experience with the violin, she found the techniques for the viola to be similar and was swift to learn notes and classical pieces.

Her love of music did not stop at classes, joining the Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra to expand her talent. Due to the selective nature of the organization, Chen had to audition for a spot in the semi-professional symphonic orchestra group. After settling in, she began practices every Sunday and occasionally on Saturday. While the practices lasted two to three hours, the duration of practice could be extended depending on the pieces that would be performed during the concerts. Showing leadership in the organization, Chen was promoted to co-principal of her section. In this new role, she is in charge of helping her section during practices and leading during concerts.

“As a co-principal, I kind of have to learn to lead and not just play individually. I feel like in an orchestra, anyone can play individually, but when it comes to working together as a section you really have to listen to other people when they’re playing,” Chen said. “It also helps me get out of my comfort zone and it’s a good opportunity since I can meet other musicians and learn and teach at the same time.”

Apart from concerts, Chen occasionally participates in group and solo competition as well as state conventions and festivals. In April of last year, Chen participated in the University of South Florida state convention held in Tampa. Chen competed in the concerto and solo category, winning first place in both. Because of COVID, she had to take a step back from competitions, but she plans to participate in more music festivals and competitions in the future. Although Chen does not plan on majoring in a music-related field, she wants to minor in music and join an orchestra group when she goes to college.

“[Music] is just a part of my life,” Chen said “ I played it since I was little so it’s always been part of me.”

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About the Contributor
Greta Carrasco, Online Editor
Greta Carrasco is a junior at Hagerty High School, and this is her third year on staff. She was born in Mexico and is fluent in both English and Spanish. Her favorite types of stories are opinions, and she enjoys writing about topics she's passionate about.
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