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July 17, 2012

Young Violinist Plays with Legendary Conductor at Castleton

Fedor, a 16-year-old violinist from the Washington, D.C., area, was chosen to perform in the orchestra during the Castleton festival. He talked to NewsHour Extra about how his experiences at Castleton prepared him for life beyond high school, and what it was like to work with a music great.

The Castleton Music Festical in rural Virginia gives audiences a chance to see performances from some of the world’s most talented young musicians. However, the festival also gives young performers the opportunity to mix and meet, improve their craft, and work under one of the world’s most famous living conductors: Maestro Lorin Maazel.


I’ve always been interested in conducting and I’ve seen Maestro Maazel preform before. Last year, when I found out that he had his own festival, I came to listen and watch him. Then I found out that I could audition for the orchestra. At first I wasn’t sure if I should because the members of the orchestra I saw were professionals and experienced players many years older than me, but I gave it a shot and I am so glad that Maestro Maazel let me into the Castleton Festival!

I didn’t really know what to expect because I’ve never done most of the things I did at Castleton, but I sure was excited! Before I left for the festival, there was a form I filled out that asked me questions to help choose where I would stay. One of the questions was: “What is your tolerance for drinking from one to ten?”  I wrote on the side: “I’m 16. Enough said.”

I was pleased and a little surprised that I felt very comfortable being around young adults and I fit in well socially, made friends and even spent free time hanging out with them outside of rehearsals and pool parties. I feel that music is a universal language, which is why the difference in age barely matters in such an area as music.

Here is a video of Fedor playing Carmen Fantasy by Franz Waxman; the same song that he performed at Castleton.

There were many new experiences for me here in Castleton. It was my first time playing in an opera in the pit and the first time playing in a much more professional setting compared to the one I’d experience in orchestra at home. This was a great opportunity for me to get an idea of how a real orchestra works.

Usually when I would go to camps there would be a lot of restrictions and rules, but at this festival there were pretty much none except for making sure to be at the scheduled events. This helped me get a peek into how college life is like and get better at organizing my time and being independent, which are all skills that I will need later in life. Not only was Castleton a great boot camp workout for me, but it also helped me meet face-to-face with people who are living the career that I want to pursue. I got to talk to them and ask them questions about music and life as a musician, as well as play side by side with them in the same orchestra, which was also an incredible experience.

Last, and most important of all my experiences, is that I got to play under the baton of Maestro Lorin Maazel himself, the best conductor alive in the world. I am so grateful that he gave me this opportunity! Finally, I would like to end with my favorite Maazel quote from rehearsals: “Think harmonically, and life will be so much better.”

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