By Connie Brotzman
When violinist Lilyanne Thoroughman was nine years old she made a six-city concert tour of China with the Cincinnati Starling Chamber Orchestra. During that tour she played two pieces as soloist. Quite impressive, given that the 25 members of the string ensemble were the top players from the prestigious Cincinnati Starling Project, a pre-college program for young string players at the University of Cincinnati’s College – Conservatory of Music.
Lilyanne has been studying under the founder and director of CSP, Kurt Sassmannshaus, since she was five years old. At 16 she now has quite a list of accomplishments. She won first prize in the concert competition for the Blue Ash Montgomery Symphony Orchestra and played the Sibelius concerto with them last year.
Instead of focusing on competitions she has made it her goal to learn as many concerti in the violin repertoire as possible before college. The Beethoven concerto she will play with the Beaufort Symphony Orchestra makes 29, so far.
“Every time I am asked to play with an orchestra it’s like winning an award, and playing with the Beaufort Symphony Orchestra is like First Prize for me,” she said.
“I was introduced to Lilyanne by a trusted colleague who recommended her highly,” said Maestro Frederick Devyatkin, Music Director and Conductor for Beaufort Symphony Orchestra. “He sent a video of one of her recent performances and I was immediately struck by her formidable command and poise.”
After reviewing several more performances he spoke with her and she asked him if he would consider doing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D Major. “A fifteen-year-old playing this Beethoven?” he remarked. “Then again, Joachim made it his signature concerto premiering at the age of twelve. Our audience is in for a real treat!”
Lilyanne is from Williamstown, Kentucky, just an hour’s drive from the Ohio border and Cincinnati. The youngest of seven children, she and her siblings have been home schooled, and her mom, Gwen, and dad, Doug, often took the entire family to attend Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra concerts, instilling in her a love of classical music. At age four, after a concert, she asked her mother if she could play the violin. At age five she had her first lesson.
“Without my parents’ influence I would have never found the violin and would certainly not be where I am today,” she said. “They both cheer me on at all of my concerts, and my mom has come to every violin lesson as far back as I can remember.”
More than anything else Lilyanne believes that music has the power to show love and bring people together. “One of my favorite things about playing music is making people feel happy,” she said. She thinks this is best done when the music is live, “because I get to see the reaction on the people’s faces, and when I am playing solo with an orchestra I get to interact with all the other musicians.”
In addition to the Blue Ash Montgomery Orchestra, Lilyanne has soloed with the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, the Starling Chamber Orchestra and the Starling Showcase Orchestra, and was associate concertmaster at age 12 of the Blue Lake International Youth Orchestra. She has also performed in concerts in six cities in France and Germany.
Lilyanne plans to pursue a degree in violin performance in college. Right now she is uncertain of where she wants to go with her career as a violinist but she knows that it will not end once she has graduated high school.
“I’ve always had a deep love of chamber music so I would like that to be a part of my future in some way,” she said.
As young as she was when she took up the violin, she was only three years old when she started ballet lessons. She currently studies at the Prep Department at the College Conservatory of Music, dancing en pointe. “Ballet has been extremely helpful to me as a violinist,” she shared. “Learning how to move my body with the music I am playing helps me build stage presence and musicality.”
Lilyanne will play Beethoven’s concerto on an Italian violin by Stefano Scarampella (1843-1925), on loan to her from Cincinnati College – Conservatory of Music. “I love this concerto because it focuses on the purity, clarity and serenity of Beethoven’s beautiful melodies rather than showing off the soloist’s technique with fiery, flamboyant passages throughout,” she explained. “It is an incredible work that many violinists dream of playing one day.”
“Maestro Devyatkin and my teacher, Kurt Sassmannshaus share a wonderful quality,” observed Lilyanne. “They both feel that age should not be a limiting factor in the music you select. “The Maestro was very encouraging that I play the Beethoven even though I just turned 16. He’s helping me to fulfill one of my dreams.”
The Sunday afternoon concert will be held on Oct. 9, at 4:00 pm, at Beaufort High School Performing Arts Center, 84 Sea Island Parkway, Beaufort, SC. 29907. Tickets may be purchased on the Beaufort Symphony Orchestra’s website at: www.beaufortorchestra.org or call (800)595-4TIX(4849) $40 adults, $15 students. Remaining tickets at the door if available.