Violist Jasmine Harris spent two weeks this summer at the Hot Springs Music Festival in the Ouachita mountains of central Arkansas, and five weeks at the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, N.C.
The Hot Springs Festival ran from June 3-16 and was orchestrally focused, with rehearsals every day and a full program concert every four days. Harris also had the opportunity to play and perform in a chamber group, attend masterclasses and receive private lessons.
The Eastern Music Festival (EMF) was a more intensive orchestra program with a full program orchestra concert every week, plus chamber performances. Her chamber group learned and performed Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 8, which required rehearsals every day and two scheduled coachings per week. There was also a scheduled studio class once a week, where Harris and the other viola participants studied with six viola faculty members. She also had the opportunity to see the EMF faculty perform in their own orchestra.
“I definitely grew a lot this summer,” said Harris. “At VCU, you have half of a semester to prepare for a symphony concert and an entire semester to finish your piece for chamber groups. Only having four days to learn my symphony music was definitely stressful, but I learned how to be an efficient player.”
Harris feels better about her future as a violist after her summer travels. The two festivals helped her to gain valuable connections with faculty members, learn more about graduate schools, and further solidify her path to becoming a professional violist.
Harris will have no trouble staying busy at VCU this semester. She is double majoring in music performance and environmental studies, and is also part of VCU’s Leaders Engaging in Advanced Discovery (LEAD) program. She is determined to achieve success as a professional violist and hopes to find new ways to combine her love for the environment with her passion for music.