Charlottesville Violinist Attends Heifetz Music Institute
The Staunton based Heifetz International Music Institute accepts only the best of the best, and through hard work and dedication a Charlottesville teen was chosen to attend the prestigious school.
Eighteen-year-old Madi Vest has been playing the violin since she was just 3-years-old. "My first violin was actually like a cardboard box…Like I had a stick that I just kind of would mess around with," she said.
But Madi says she didn't really get serious until the ripe age of five. "Once I started playing the violin I just wanted to become as good as I could," said Madi.
She has become so good in fact that she was invited to play the national anthem for the Nationals vs. Yankees game in Washington, DC this past June.
"It was an unforgettable experience. It was 40,000 people in this huge stand," she said.
Madi was given this opportunity thanks to the Heifetz International Music Institute. The rising senior auditioned this past January and was one of only 62 chosen worldwide to attend the six-week music school in Staunton.
But calling Heifetz a "music school" isn't exactly right. Heifetz director Daniel Heifetz said, "It's a totally unorthodox, completely unique training program."
For the violinists, violists, and cellists, there is a lot of playing, but they have one very specific class that's essential to the concept of the school – communication. Heifetz explained, "The emotion of music. The passion of music. The excitement of music. More than just playing perfectly and playing beautifully."
It teaches these classical musicians about speaking, singing, movement, drama, and freedom of expression. "To become comfortable in your own skin so that when you play the violin is not a piece of wood on your shoulder, but becomes a part of your body... Breathing," said Heifetz.
So they bring in teachers with various backgrounds, "To work with these uptight classical instrumentalists on how to think out of the box. How to believe in their own persona," said Heifetz.
"When we go on stage, we have to reveal our deepest emotions in front of a thousand strangers," he added.
Madi said, "You have to be able to communicate with them and to open yourself up."
"That's when the magic happens," said Heifetz.
And what does the future hold for the young starlet? "The dream always changes," admits Madi. But she said, "It's to be able to play... No matter what."
This is the institutes first year at Mary Baldwin College. If you are interested in seeing some of these talented instrumentalists it is not too late. Click here to see more information.
Reported by NBC29's Tara Todd