Artist of the Month: Ava Kenney

What instrument do you play and why do you play it?

I have been playing the violin for 11 years.  When I was 2 years old, I desperately wanted to have a violin like all of my mom’s violin students, so I finally started when I was almost 3 years old.

Do you get nervous when you perform? If you do, how do you get over it?

Yes, I get a bit nervous when I perform. One trick that I use to help gain control over my nerves is imagining myself performing during my practice leading up to the performance. Some other tools that are more “in the moment” are deep breathing, doing stretches to warm up my hands and arms, and practicing spots slowly before going on stage.

What is your biggest achievement as a musician?

I am one of the three finalists in the 2020 Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Stars of Tomorrow Competition. Later this spring, I will perform the 1st movement of the Saint-Saens Violin Concerto no. 3 with the Milwaukee Symphony on their Audrey Baird Stars of tomorrow concert.

What performance are you most proud of? And what makes that different from others?

One performance that I am proud of is when I performed the 3rd movement of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with the Madison Symphony.  As the winner of their 2018 Fall Youth Concerto Competition, I was given the opportunity to solo with the orchestra on two performances in Overture Hall for many school children, where for many of them, it was their first classical music performance.  This was different from other performances because it was the first time I soloed with a professional orchestra, and I was able to inspire so many children from all around Wisconsin. 

Who do you look up to as a musician?

As a violinist, I have always looked up to Hilary Hahn.  Not only is she an amazing musician, but she is also very kind and giving to everyone that she meets.  Also, my mom had me listen to Hilary Hahn playing unaccompanied Bach ever since she was pregnant for me, which is probably also one of the reasons I was attracted to the violin at an early age.

How do you feel after every performance?

After every performance, I usually feel a little energized and exhausted at the same time.  Also, I usually feel very relieved and less stressed after I finish playing. Whether I am completely satisfied with my performance or not, I always try to greet and thank everyone that came to hear me play, and I find ways to improve my playing for my next performance. 

What is the hardest part about being a musician?

For me, the hardest part about being a musician is balancing my practice and my school work.  I always strive to practice as efficiently as I can, even if my time is limited.


By Qing Ng

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