Lehigh University
Lehigh University


Has violin, will travel

Emily Orenstein '10 performs Ravel's "Tzigane" at Zoellner Arts Center's Baker Hall in 2007.

When Emily Orenstein ’10 was presented with the option to play an instrument in the fifth grade, she had no idea that her selection of the violin would ultimately lead her to London. But this August, Orenstein will pack her bags—and her violin—for an opportunity to study at London’s prestigious Royal Academy of Music.

Orenstein, a music major and Baker Scholar, was accepted into the Royal Academy of Music’s Year-In Program after auditioning at New York City’s Steinway Hall in March. The program enables music students to benefit from one year of conservatoire education while receiving a tailor-made course of study that reflects the strengths and needs of individual students.

“Because of the size of Lehigh’s program, I get a lot of personal attention from professors and a lot of opportunities,” says Orenstein. “I auditioned for this program because I wanted to be immersed in a program with violinists who were stronger than me and who would push me.”

Orenstein was initially nervous about the idea of a live audition, particularly with such an esteemed conservatory. She prepared two pieces: the first movements of Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major and Vieuxtemps' Concerto No. 4 in D Minor. She credits her smooth audition in part to Timothy Schwarz, professor of music, who helped her prepare her selections and arranged for a mock audition at the Zoellner Arts Center.

“When Emily first said she wanted to audition for the Royal Academy of Music in London I knew this would be a difficult task,” says Schwarz. “The very name creates a sense of awe amongst musicians, in a similar way that Harvard or Oxford would amongst other fields. Her acceptance to this prestigious school will open up doors for her that no one can even imagine.”

In Bethlehem, Orenstein constantly juggles a demanding schedule inside and outside the classroom. In addition to performing with the Lehigh University Philharmonic Orchestra, through which she has served as concert master, she has also performed as a curtain warmer for guest artists at the Zoellner Arts Center. Off campus, Orenstein has taught violin at Nazareth Music Center and Community Music School.

During Orenstein’s time in London, the program will provide a class load similar to that of a fourth-year Academy student. She will have ample opportunity to concentrate on performance without the distractions of other classes and work.

“I thought of majoring in education or psychology, but it took me a long time to fully admit I wanted to major in music,” says Orenstein. “Lehigh was good to me in that respect. I was able to try things out because of the liberal arts program.”

Orenstein, a native of Stroudsburg, Pa., envisions a career that combines her passion for performing music with her love of teaching. She also plans to keep performing in an orchestra.

“Emily Orenstein is a very self-motivated student. I rarely see such thought and detail go into a career at such a young age,” says Schwarz. “The path required for a music major is never easy. It includes endless hours of practice, nerve-wracking auditions, and emotional exposure which are rarely found in another field.”

--Tricia Long

Posted on Tuesday, May 05, 2009

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