Introducing Ariel Horowitz, Hogwarts Violin Wizard
"I'm a normal kid." That's Ariel Horowitz's story and, despite a somewhat unusual musical life, she's sticking to it.
The 13-year-old Columbus violinist recently cut a winning streak through several Central Ohio music contests and will make her concerto debut April 18 with the New Albany Symphony Orchestra as second prize winner of the orchestra's Student Concerto Competition.
But despite living a life in which she can't remember not playing the violin, Horowitz says she's just like any other iPod-toting, Harry Potter-loving kid. Except for the fact that, even before she could count to three, Horowitz got her first violin when she was three years old and, at the tender age of five, started taking lessons with Susan Walsh at the Suzuki Violin School of Columbus-Worthington.
She later studied with Columbus Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Charles Wetherbee. And when an opportunity arose two years ago to study with Jascha Heifetz protégé Mauricio Fuks at Indiana Unviersity's Jacobs School of Music, Horowitz grabbed it.
Horowitz says she's learned distinct lessons from each of her teachers. From Walsh she learned, quite possibly, the very meaning of music.
"The real thing that I learned from (Walsh) is that music is love and music is to be shared with everyone," Horowitz said in a recent interview. "When you play, you're not just playing for yourself; you're playing for everyone who's listening to you and you're playing for everyone in the world, and music is a form of expressing your love for the world. That made me love the violin, that attitude."
Horowitz says studying with Wetherbee and going to concerts of the Columbus Symphony and Wetherbee's Carpe Diem String Quaret formed her as an artist.
"I really learned what being an artist is about from him," Horowitz said. "I learned to make a phrase, I learned how to follow dynamics but not be too strict with them, I learned how to be expressive in my motions but not be overly dramatic. I just learned so much valuable artistry from him," Horowitz said.
And she says she's learned what she calls "life lessons" from Indiana University's Mauricio Fuks, among them, Horowitz says, that "you have to be your best teacher."
Life itself is the best teacher of all, and Horowitz says she's learning as much in the real world as she is in the studio, the practice room and on stage. A student at Columbus' BalletMet Dance Academy, Horowitz has been dancing almost as long as she's been playing the violin. She says dancing has helped her become the musician she is.
"For violin, I can't even tell you how much dance has supported that," Horowitz said. "I never went through a phase in my life where I felt (physically) awkward in myself. I think in large part that's (from) doing dance. Also, when I play a piece that sounds like it could have a dance go to it, sometimes I picture people dancing to a story and it helps me visualize the music better."
And Horowitz loves stories - with or without music. She says she's passionate about reading and once even wished she could study alongside Harry Potter at Hogwarts. And at a time when music is being cut from many school curricula, Horowitz even came up with an idea for a music program there - an idea she, herself states better than anyone else could:
As Horowitz prepares for her concerto debut this weekend, she's been enjoying rehearsing with the New Albany Symphony.
"I love the spotlight," said Horowitz, who now dreams of soloing professionally with orchestras around the world.
And in an era when many orchestras are struggling to survive, Horowitz uses - what else? - her iPod to introduce other teens to the classical music that, they say, only "nerds" care about.
So far, Horowitz's high-tech tactics have worked. She turned her friend into a devoted Heifetz fan by giving her an iTunes gift card for her birthday:
Horowitz will perform Mendelssohn's D Minor Violin Concerto on Sunday. Mendelssohn wrote the piece when he was 13 years old.
Now at that same age, Horowitz says she understands the concerto's push-and-pull between youth and maturity:
Great athletes never mess with a streak. So will Horowitz's future include more competition wins? Only time will tell. But Horowitz says it will certainly include more competitions, especially national and international ones.
The experience is what she's after, but the prize, she says, is immaterial. "I'm just excited to see how it all goes," Horowitz said.