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Volume 24, Number 5 — May 2017

Youth Spotlight: Emily Lamb

Emily Lamb won the Symphony of the Mountains (SOTM) Youth Orchestra Concerto Competition.
Emily Lamb won the Symphony of the Mountains (SOTM) Youth Orchestra Concerto Competition.

By Angela Wampler / A! Magazine for the Arts | March 27, 2012

Every year the Symphony of the Mountains (SOTM) Youth Orchestra holds a concerto competition. High school seniors from the Youth Orchestra compete, and the winner plays a solo with the Youth Orchestra the following semester.

This year's winner of the Symphony of the Mountains (SOTM) Youth Orchestra Concerto Competition is Emily Lamb, who has played with the Youth Orchestra for more than three years. This is her second year as the principal violist. She will be featured in the ensemble's concert at Milligan College on April 15, 2012.

Emily, 17, is the daughter of Warren and Kathy Lamb of Elizabethton, Tenn. "I guess you could say we're a musical family," Emily says. "I'm the oldest of nine children, and we all play at least one instrument — except my youngest brother, who is only four. My mom has her bachelor's degree in music education and master's degree in music theory, and my dad began college as a piano performance major before he switched his concentration to computer science."

She continues, "My mom began the homeschool band program for students in the Tri-Cities area; currently the program has three bands and one beginning string ensemble. I was nine when she started the homeschool band, and I have been playing french horn in the band since that time. My mom also directs the Symphonic and Beginning bands, Paula Augustine teaches the Concert band, and Erin Keene teaches the String Ensemble. It has really grown since our first rehearsal eight years ago."

Emily is a home schooled senior and has taken classes at Milligan College. She explains, "I am currently a dual-enrollment student at Milligan, which means I take college classes for high school and college credit. I began my dual-enrollment experience with Beginning Music Theory in Spring 2010, and have earned more than 25 hours of college credit. Being a dual-enrollment student at Milligan has been amazing, the environment is great, and it gives me an opportunity to take music classes that I otherwise could not take.

"I was elated when I found out I won the senior concerto competition, and I am so excited about playing a viola concerto with the Youth Orchestra. I have so much fun spending my Sunday afternoons with other musicians my age who love music as much as I do. We are able to handle difficult orchestra repertoire," she says.

"I've made many friends within the orchestra. In fact, my string quartet is made up of members from the Youth Orchestra. I have played in quite a few string quartets over the past two years for festivals, weddings, and other events. Last semester Bethany Dawson, Cameron Lugo, my sister Kathryn, and I formed a quartet to present Shostakovich's Quartet No. 8 for the Sonata Festival at Milligan College. We rehearsed every Sunday before youth orchestra rehearsal. Currently, we're taking a break from rehearsing, but we hope to get back together for a performance later in the semester."

Emily began studying viola the summer before her sophomore year in high school. She says, "I'm actually a switch-over from violin. I had been taking violin lessons since age five. I had been taught traditionally and by the Suzuki method. I decided I was ready to try something new in my ninth grade year. Switching to viola was one of the best decisions I've made. I have had so many opportunities to play that would never have happened if I was still a violinist. I found my voice in the viola."

She continues, "Many people have taught me and showed me what to do over the course of my musical training — not only in private viola study, but also in other instruments and ensembles. One of the most influential teachers I have had is Dr. Kellie Brown at Milligan College. I began taking from her at the beginning of tenth grade, when I switched to viola. Dr. Brown has helped me prepare for auditions, competitions, recitals, and orchestra clinics. She has really shown me how to be a musician."

Ivy Blair is Emily's piano teacher. "She isn't just a piano teacher, though," notes Emily. "She has given me and all the other student musicians in the area opportunities to play through the Sonata Festival, the Honors Orchestra, and many other events. I have a lot of fun in lessons. During our lessons, we always discuss music and talk about concerts and events in the area. But, yes, we do get some piano in, too."

In addition to viola and piano, Emily is studying organ with Dr. David Runner at Milligan. She says, "Although I've only been playing the organ for a year, I have improved and enjoy it so much. That's probably because it is so much fun to play and practice. You practically have a whole orchestra under your fingertips!"

Emily concludes, "I'm not sure what path my life will take in the future. One of my dreams is to become a professional musician and have a position as a violist in a major symphony. I will be continuing my musical education by studying viola performance in college beginning next year, and I'd like to do graduate studies at a conservatory afterwards. I have also thought about conducting. Since I enjoy the orchestral sound so much, maybe the right path for me is not playing one instrument, but having the chance to play all the instruments through conducting.

"Maya Angelou once said, 'You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don't make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can't take their eyes off you.' I love music, I love playing my viola. My goal is to learn as much as I can about my instrument and let the opportunities open by themselves. It doesn't matter if I am playing in the Atlanta Symphony, conducting a community orchestra, or being a stay-at-home mom with a private studio — as long as music is around me, I will be content."