By Carlotta Mohamed
Michelle Stern, a 14-year-old violin prodigy from Douglaston, is about to make her dreams become a reality as she is preparing to perform Sunday at the Massapequa Philharmonic.
Led by David Bernard, the orchestra’s music director, the free event is scheduled to take place Oct. 14 at 3 p.m. at Berner Auditorium, located at 50 Carman Mill Road in Massapequa.
The 2018-2019 program will open with Smetana’s riveting tone poem “The Moldau,” followed by a Sibelius violin concerto featuring Stern as a soloist, and will conclude with Dvorak’s lyrical symphony No. 6.
“Through ‘The Moldau,’ Sibelius paints a picture of immense beauty as he spins a compelling narrative from the life and drama around this beloved river,” Bernard said. “Sibelius fuses the perfect balance of passion, lyricism and brilliance throughout his violin concerto and Michelle Stern will dazzle with her artistry.”
It will be Stern’s first time performing at the Massapequa Philharmonic.
“It’s every violinist’s dream to play the Sibelius concerto,” said Stern.
Stern, a sophomore at Townsend Harris High School located on the Queens College campus, began her violin studies at the age of 3 with her mother, Anna Heifetz, a distinguished violin teacher.
“I was kind of enamored by playing the violin even before I started learning it,” said Stern. “Once I started to get to know it and I was able to comprehend musical ideas and technicalities to a certain degree I actually started to learn it.”
Stern currently studies violin with Professor Ann Setzer at the Juilliard School Pre-College Division, and has been working on familiarizing herself with the 35-minute musical piece for her solo performance.
This isn’t Stern’s first time performing solo on stage in front of a wide audience. She has appeared as a soloist with the Connecticut Virtuosi Orchestra, North Shore Symphony, Island Chamber Symphony, and the Manhattan Symphony at Lincoln Center.
In the past, she performed Bazzini’s “La Ronde Des Lutins” and “Caprice Basque,” and “Zapateado” as a part of the American Protege Gala in Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall.
Additionally, Stern has performed at the renowned Meadowmount Festival, has given solo recitals at Lincoln Center, The Juilliard School, Jordan Hall, Oyster Bay Music Festival 2017 and 2018, and was a guest artist on PBS’ Artscene, as well as “Seldom Said.”
The distinguished violinist has won numerous awards for her work. Stern was awarded first prize in the Young Artists Category of the Gershwin International Music Competition in 2017 and first prize at the New York Music Competition and American Protege Piano and Strings Competition.
Additionally, she was awarded both first prize and the grand prize at the Concert Festival International, “Judges Distinction Award” at the American Protege Concerto Competition, and “Best Performance Award” at the American Protege Talent Competition.
At age 7, she was awarded first prize in the Jewish Kids Got Talent Competition, raising over $5,000 in prizes, which she donated to charities and Hurricane Sandy Relief funds.
When she’s not playing the violin, Stern enjoys writing poetry, short stories, plays and contributes to Townsend Harris High School’s literary magazine, The Phoenix.
“As I got into writing more and more it became a really important hobby to me and my poetry has developed just as I have and alongside my music, which I think goes hand in hand with my artistic perspective on writing,” said Stern.
The Flushing student has excelled in her academic studies, becoming a two-time recipient of the prestigious Irwin Altman Award of “Excellence in Education” from District 26, and a honorary citation from the City Council of New York for academic achievements and community service.
Looking ahead in the future, Stern plans on pursuing a music career as a soloistic violin performer and is also interested in teaching music.
“It’s been an amazing experience since I kind of enjoyed seeing myself grow as a musician and as a person, and how the violin has changed me from the beginning to where I am now and where it’s going to take me in the future,” said Stern.
Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed by e-mail at cmoha