It’s an unexplainable focus, but when Allegra Hill strokes the strings on her century-old violin with her horsehair tail bow, the results are purely symphonic.
Hill, a high school senior, will be one of four Palmer Trinity School students performing in the Greater Miami Youth Symphony annual holiday concerts at 3 and 6 p.m. today, Dec. 14 at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, 10950 SW 211 St. Hill’s brother, Ethan, will join Wynn Owre and Isa Swift, playing the French horn, violin, and flute, respectively in the show.
In the classroom Hill holds a 4.0 GPA and is a semifinalist in the National Merit Scholarship program, but outside of the classroom, and outside of the country is where Hill finds inspiration. As a sophomore, Hill traveled with her family to Cambodia to build houses. After the experience, Hill formed the Tabitha-Cambodia club, at her school, to support the international NGO Tabitha Cambodia, which aids the impoverished.
Last year the Tabitha-Cambodia Club raised $2,400 to build 16 wells in Cambodia.
“We went on the trip and it was a really eye opening experience for me,” Hill said. “When I got back, I started the club at school.
“It just really opened my eyes to how much we have and how much less they have and made me think, well we have more, we should help out. We should really share what we’ve got. They say this a lot in Tabitha Cambodia, they feel kind of forgotten by the world’s communities.”
GMYS conductor Huifang Chen credits family encouragement and personal drive for Hill’s focus and success.
“She has been in the orchestra for quite a few years,” Chen said. “Her mother, Laurie, was past president of the symphony. She has a very supportive family. Everybody loves music. She is an amazing girl and she’s very intelligent.”
While Hill waits to see if she is a finalist for the National Merit Scholarship, she also hopes to be accepted into Yale University, where her father attended.
Hill began violin at 6 years old and now practices one hour everyday, when she doesn’t have homework. She joined the youth symphony when she was 9. Hill’s father plays saxophone and her mother plays the piano.
Through musical conversation, Hill hones her focus, which she says may even help her in the classroom. For the past few summers, Hill has also traveled to the Narnia Arts Academy for music school in Narni, Italy.
“Part of it is to pay attention to the notes and get the notes right,” Hill said. “Pay attention to the fingers and the bow and everything. Listen closely and listen to everybody else. Try to put feeling into it. Not too much, but put a lot of feeling into it.
“On one hand it’s just playing as softly and loudly. You just kind of have a (musical) conversation with everyone else in the orchestra. Sometimes you have the lead; sometimes the horn section does ... sometimes the flutes … sometimes the chellos. You just have to listen to that.”
The GMYS is a five-level orchestra program that trains musicians between 5 and 18 years old. Tickets for the Dec. 14 show are available from $15 to $25 at www.smdcac.org/events.