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Symphony of the Vines is launching a new mentoring program called Student Spotlight. At designated Off-the-Vines concerts, a local music student will be invited to perform a musical selection. The goal of Student Spotlight is to provide valuable mentoring opportunities.

Enjoy our Student Spotlight featuring Nick Bircher, age 15. He performed on April 14, 2019, at Pear Valley Estate Wine during our Violin and Cello DUO concert. He is accompanied by Maurice Sklar, violin, and Hilary Clark, cello. The music selection is Méditation from Thaïs.

Dr. Valerie Berg-Johansen, Symphony of the Vines Board Member explained, “Performance opportunities like these are hard to come by, but are very valuable learning experiences for those needing to bridge the gap between being a student and becoming a professional. It also gives the budding musician a chance to preview the professional arena: intense rehearsals, many hours of practicing, as well as a little dose of healthy pressure but without a competitive environment.” The committee is contacting local music teachers to identify students to perform next season.

Our first Student Spotlight musician is Nick Bircher, 15, who began playing the violin in the second grade after joining an after-school music program. “Out of all the strings, brass, and woodwind instruments offered, I picked my favorite, the violin,” Nick remembered. He practices about 2 hours a day and is drawn to the Romantic era of music including Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Dvorak, and Saint-Saens. “Each week he practices more than I ask of him, and takes all of my awfully technical assignments quite seriously, which I absolutely adore!” said Dr. Valerie Berg-Johansen, his private music teacher.

Nick is a very busy young man. Not only is he dedicated to learning the violin, he also runs competitively in cross-country and long-distance track. On top of that, he has two businesses – one that involves water-bottles and the other is a clothing line.

His future plans? “I would love to work in software engineering, and potentially own a business in that field, while possibly playing violin in an orchestra as well. I would like to attend Stanford University, UCLA, USC, or the University of Michigan,” he said. Following quickly behind Nick are his siblings Amelia, 12, and Charlie, 10, who both play the violin and piano!

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