Grace Friar is shown at home with her new violin. | Clif Knight
Grace Friar is shown at home with her new violin. | Clif Knight

Archived Story

Magical strings

Published 10:21am Thursday, February 27, 2014

Hartselle violinist rises to top at all-state festival

Grace Friar of Hartselle has been recognized as one of Alabama’s outstanding young musicians.

The 14-year-old violinist earned a fourth chair first violin position at the 2014 Alabama All-State Orchestra Festival at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa Feb. 13-16.

To achieve the honor, she performed in a blind audition for the Sinfonia Orchestra, which consisted of 40 musicians from District I in North Alabama. She had one month to prepare with the music of Overture to Rienzi, Kabelevsky Suite, Hungarian Dance No. 5 and Sibelius Symphony No. 2.

Sponsored by the Alabama Orchestra Association, the festival brought together an outstanding group of young musicians that were screened through a rigorous process and selected for their serious achievement in the field of orchestral music.

“Being able to perform in a larger group of students is highly motivating and educational,” said Lisa Caravan, AOA president. “Students are reinforced in their achievement and become more energized to continue performing. This experience is a benefit to them, the communities they live in and in school programs they will return to and perform with.”

The young musicians were taught and directed by outstanding teachers from throughout the nation and performed each day of the festival.

Grace began playing the violin when she was about three years old and added the French horn to her resume when she joined the Hartselle Junior High School band three years ago.”

I’ve worked hard on the violin for about five years,” Grace pointed out. “It’s been a love-hate relationship.” I know the amount of progress I make depends on how hard I work. I’m not a child prodigy; I’m convinced anyone can learn how to play a musical instrument if they work at it hard enough and long enough.

Grace’s practice regimen begins at 5 a.m. with a 45-minute practice session seven days a week. After school on Mondays, she has an hour lesson with her music coach, Veronika Johnson in Madison, followed by an hour of practice under Dr. David Ragsdale, music professor at UAH.

She is a member of the Huntsville Youth Orchestra and will be featured on a float in the Decatur Marti Gras Parade on March 1.

An A-B student, Grace plays the French horn for the Hartselle Junior High School band and holds a first chair position.

“The Hartselle High School band is awesome,” she said. “I had the honor of marching in it at football games and other events this year and I’m looking forward to being a full-fledged member as a freshman next year.”

Grace is the daughter of Joanne and Randy Friar. When she’s not busy playing her violin, she enjoys playing with her fox terrier or riding her horse.

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