Carnegie Hall awaits junior violinist

After picking up the violin at age four, junior Megan Lin had no idea she would one day be following in the footsteps of famous orchestral musician Yo-Yo Ma. Over winter break Lin will fly to New York to attend the same elite program as Ma, the New York String Orchestra Seminar, and play the violin at Carnegie Hall.

To get there, Lin had to prove her worth. She was required to fly to New York for a live audition back in October. The program only accepts 45 string players ages 16 to 23, but Lin remains humble about her achievement.

It’s about proving yourself to those other people that you belong there,

— junior Megan Lin

“I didn’t feel too great about how I played, and it wasn’t how I had envisioned it to be,” Lin said. “I felt kind of bad like it was a waste of a plane ticket, since we had to fly all the way to New York just for that one live audition. I tried not to think about it, but a week later, I got the acceptance letter through my email and I was surprised.”

In preparation for her audition, Lin spent long hours practicing two pieces of her choice and the two symphonies and concerto that she will now be performing at Carnegie Hall on December 24 and 28.

“I had to work a lot on the excerpts, which are just little sections of the pieces that we’re going to play at Carnegie,” Lin said. “It’s really hard to get in, so I was really happy when I found out, but I feel pressured, because I do really need to practice, since I can’t get there and sound like I shouldn’t be there. It’s about proving yourself to those other people that you belong there.”

Lin has been playing the violin since she was four years old and has been a part of the school’s orchestra since her freshman year.

“She’s probably the most talented musician I’ve worked with within twenty years,” orchestra director Julie Blackstock said. “As a freshman, I remember her coming in and playing an All-State excerpt by Mahler- it’s the Adagietto. She came and played it for us to get some comments, and I was astounded by her level of artistry, musicianship, and maturity for someone who had not played that piece before. I think one percent of people actually make it as a professional violinist, but of anybody that I have ever taught, she has the potential.”

Despite her talent, Lin didn’t always possess the motivation and passion to play the violin and practice long hours.

“I never really started liking [violin] until late middle school, which was around the time when I first went to a summer program,” Lin said. “It was fascinating to me, because all these people were self sufficient and practice for five hours with no problem. Listening to the concerts and stuff like that gave me the motivation I needed to put in the time. I thought maybe if I did, then I could be somewhat like them. After that I started focusing a lot more.”

Lin attributes much of her talent and hardworking nature to her mom, since she originally started Lin on the violin and would sit and help her practice every day.

“I wasn’t born with talent or anything like that,” Lin said. “Of course, when you’re young, you low key hate it. It was hard because when you’re that age, all you wanna do is mess around, but my mom really pushed me a lot every day.”

While Lin is the only musician in her immediate family, her parents’ interest in music and the arts is what made them decide to introduce her to the violin.

“I wanted her to be artistic and learn how to be creative, because the arts is very flexible and it’s always open to possibilities,” Lin’s mother Ying Wan said. “I sat down with her to practice because I wanted her to not feel bitter practicing along and not let it be boring. I kept pushing her because I thought she had talent and I didn’t want her to waste it.”

I think one percent of people actually make it as a professional violinist, but of anybody that I have ever taught, she has the potential,

— orchestra director Julie Blackstock

Having found her calling, Lin is planning to continuing playing the violin far into her future, and believes programs like NYSOS will help her.

“In this area, it’s not like in New York where you find a music school on every corner, so you don’t have that kind of pressure here, and without that, if you just stay at home and you’re practicing, you kinda forget that you’re small in a really big musical world,” Lin said. “If you go to programs like NYSOS, you get exposed to people that are the same age as you, so you feel like you’re not the only person going through the same struggles. You also get to work with world class faculty, so it pressures you, but in a good way.”

Lin will be in New York City until Dec. 28, allowing her to spend the holidays in a new environment.

“We’re playing a concert on Christmas Eve, so you get to experience a whole new world, since normally around winter break, I wouldn’t travel or anything like that,” Lin said. “Playing at Carnegie is a pretty big deal too. I played there in a middle school orchestra, but it wasn’t on as big of a scale as this. It means a lot, because I know some of the people that are going from previous stuff, and they’re all ridiculously good, so if I’m put in the same category as them, even if it’s probably on the lower end of that category, to be lumped in that group is pretty cool.”