Upper Arlington News

Practice pays off for CSO contest winner



That's how, in a nutshell, 14-year-old Upper Arlington High School freshman Isabelle Durrenberger won the Columbus Symphony Orchestra 2013 Young Musicians Concerto Competition.

Durrenberger was selected from among seven finalists in the annual competition for musicians in grades 8-12.

The violinist said she practices every day, "probably 15-16 hours a week." She confessed that, much like when she started playing violin at age 7, there are times her parents keep on her to practice.

Her parents also get credit for sparking her interest in the violin by taking their daughter to an orchestra concert at which the guest soloist was a violinist.

Isabelle, who was making music at the time through singing and piano lessons, was taken with the sound of the violin, she said.

"I think my parents knew I would want to play it," she said with a laugh.

They were right. Isabelle is in her fifth year of participating in the Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestra program (for which she currently serves as associate concertmaster), plays in the UAHS orchestra, participates in the Chamber Music Connection and is a member of the New Albany Symphony Orchestra.

She studies with Jaime Laredo and Joan Kwuon at the Cleveland Institute of Music Preparatory Program.

She also won the 2012 Student Concerto Competition of the New Albany Symphony Orchestra.

"We're really proud and happy for her," said her father, Chris Durrenberger, a professor of piano at Wittenberg University and who accompanied Isabelle at the competition.

"She's having a great year."

This was her second time as a finalist in the CSO competition.

"I was less nervous this year, and was thinking more about doing my best and making music and not about whether I would win or not," Isabelle told ThisWeek Upper Arlington News.

"Having my dad accompany made me a little more nervous, maybe, but we get to rehearse more, which is a plus."

"I was more nervous than she was," Mr. Durrenberger said.

"I just concentrated on playing my best and making good music I hoped that people would enjoy," Isabelle said.

"Isabelle showed her maturity of interpretation of the piece, Symphonie Espangnole, by (Edouard) Lalo," said Ken Matsuda, a violist with the CSO and one of three judges for the finals.

"I was impressed by her stage presence and poise. She had beautiful tone and a wide range of dynamics as well as solid technique."

For winning the competition, Isabelle received a $500 award from the Women's Association of the Columbus Symphony. She has been invited to perform for the association's annual luncheon, and will join the CSO for an educational concert in April.