Named to honor the memory of Miss Ima Hogg, a co-founder of the Houston Symphony, the Ima Hogg Competition
is open to young musicians between the ages of 13 and 30 who play standard orchestral instruments or piano. Through the support of the Houston Symphony League since 1976, the Competition provides performance opportunities for aspiring musicians ages 13-30.
The 2013 semifinal round will take place on Thursday, May 30 at Stude Concert Hall at the Shepherd School of Music of Rice University. Ten semifinalists will perform two concertos with piano accompaniment. At the conclusion of the semifinals, four finalists will be selected to perform one concerto with the Houston Symphony at the Finals Concert on Saturday, June 1. The first place winner will then perform with the Houston Symphony at the Houston Chronicle Concert on July 13, 2013 as part of the 2013 Day of Music; the second place winner will perform with the Houston Symphony at Miller Theatre on June 29, 2013.
Our Education and Community Engagement Coordinator, Allison Conlan, had the chance to post some questions to our semifinalists. Their insightful answers can be found on this very blog!
Learn a little more about contestant number 8: Libby Fayette, Violin
Libby Fayette, Violin
Allison Conlan: Do you come from a musical family?
Libby Fayette: I do come from a musical family. Both my parents are musicians – my mom plays violin and viola, and my dad plays double bass. My dad is a high school music teacher, my mom is a Suzuki teacher, and together they own and operate a Suzuki school on Long Island. In addition, my three siblings are also all musicians. My older brother is a violinist, my younger sister is a cellist, and my youngest sister is again a violinist. There was no escape!
AC: At what age did you begin playing your instrument?
LF: My mother is a Suzuki teacher, which is a method that starts children on instruments at a young age. I began violin when I was two, probably more out of a desire to imitate my older brother than anything else. I cannot remember a time when I did not play violin. One would think that this would lead one to take violin for granted, but I have found that the older I get, the more grateful I feel for having the ability to live my life as a musician.
AC: Where did you grow up, and how did that community affect who you have become — in general and/or as a musician
LF: I grew up in a small town on the North Shore of Long Island, about an hour and a half outside of New York City. It is the quintessential small town, where everyone knows everyone else and takes part in local activities (one of the big events is the annual Duck Pond Day parade!) However, the community that I feel like I most belonged to as I grew up was the one at the Juilliard Pre-College Division, which I attended from the age of ten until I graduated from high school. This program, which took place every Saturday during the school year, had a profound influence on my life, both musically and otherwise. It was there that I met and made lasting friendships with kids who were also dedicated to playing their instruments, but who came from a variety of social, cultural and academic backgrounds. Being exposed to such a diverse and interesting group of colleagues broadened my own sense of the world, and gave me the security of a peer group.
AC: Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of music?
LF: I love museums! NYC has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to art – you can find almost anything! As a student, I am able to get into most museums for free, and it is something I try to take advantage of. One of my favorite things to do is to walk across Central Park to the aptly named “Museum Mile” and wander into and out of the museums all afternoon. I am also a book addict – I read anything and everything! This is sometimes to the detriment of the rest of my life, as I find myself unable to do anything else until I finish a book. I am pretty equal-opportunity with what I read – one of my friends likes to joke that my favorite genre is “Available!”
AC: What has been your most exciting event in your musical career?
LF: I am so lucky to be in a field which is constantly exciting – that is the nature of being a performer.
AC: Do you have any pre-performance habits/rituals?
LF: On the day of a performance, I try to wake up early in the morning and have some time to myself. This might mean reading, or doing Sudoku puzzles. When my brain feels like it is in good working order, I like to go through all the music I will be performing later slowly and calmly, so that the pieces are set not just in my hands, but also in my mind. After lunch, I try to take a substantial nap – performing takes a lot of energy! After the nap, I don’t have any specific rituals later, like eating a banana or having a warm-up system, but I do like to have my violin as near to me as possible in order to keep my hands warmed up. I often will play for five minutes, then put the violin down for five minutes to wander around, do a quick logic puzzle or read a few paragraphs. I will repeat this alternation until the very moment I walk on stage.
AC: Who are some of your most profound influences?
LF: I have been very lucky to have had some of the best teachers anyone could wish for. My teacher at the Juilliard Pre-College Division, Ms. Shirley Givens, had a profound impact on my development, both as a musician and as a person. She encouraged me to be as curious as possible in all aspects of my life, and to always find the human elements in the music that I played. She also gave me the awareness that every part of what we do on stage – the walking, talking, bowing and smiling – is part of the performance and needs to be given as much thought and care as the violin playing itself. I was also, and continue to be, influenced by my later teachers, among them Pamela Frank, Shmuel Ashkenasi and Arnold Steinhardt. My current teacher, Ms. Sylvia Rosenberg, is someone who is an example of what it means to live one’s life being deeply fascinated by music. To have contact with her integrity, depth of feeling and intellectual curiosity on a regular basis is a constant source of inspiration for me.
AC: Who is the most famous person you have met?
LF: There have been two instances in my life where I have been profoundly starstruck. The first was when I was selected as a Presidential Scholar at the end of my senior year of high school. During the week-long program in D.C, I was invited to meet with my state’s political representatives. Since I am from New York, I had the chance to meet then-senator Hillary Clinton. She has the most incredible ability to make one feel like the most important person in the room, and I was left with a profound impression of intelligence, warmth and poise. My other moment occurred in a more high-pressure scenario. I was playing a chamber music concert at the American Academy in Berlin, and as I walked to the performance area a very distinctive head of hair in the front row caught my eye. Sir Simon Rattle, the principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, was sitting about a foot away from me! I was so surprised I almost forgot to bow – thank God for the rest of my chamber group, as I just followed their leave. After the performance, he was kind enough to say a few words to us, though I was too tongue tied to do more than smile and nod.
AC: Favorite TV shows, sports teams, food and city?
LF: Though I have never had much interest in sports, as a New Yorker I support the Yankees as a matter of principle! In terms of food, I am very equal opportunity, in that I will try absolutely anything! Right now, I especially love Korean food. NYC has a great K-town, and it is always fun to go to restaurants there with a bunch of friends and try new things. As for television, I love comedic sitcoms, with one of my all time favorites being Friends. I really like watching TV with other people – it is so much more fun to laugh in a group than alone!
AC: Explain your personality/life in a six word sentence…
LF: “Always say everything with a smile!” I really believe in doing this both in one’s interactions with other people, and with one’s attitude towards oneself. Even on my worst days, I try to approach life from a position of optimism. One can expend so much energy carrying around small annoyances, and letting unhappy circumstances color our worldview. I find when things are difficult I can draw energy from my interactions with other people – everyone I come into contact with offers new and exciting things. I try to seize opportunities for the joy in my life – simply living is hard enough without hypothetical storm clouds following you around!
Don’t miss the semifinals performances on May 30, and the finals concert on June 1!