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13-Year-Old Pre-College Student Solos with Olympia Symphony

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Ava Pakiam performed the Samuel Barber Violin Concerto and a work by SFCM faculty Mason Bates with the Olympia Symphony in October.

November 6, 2023 by Mark Taylor

It's a piece of music once allegedly perceived as unplayable, but was just performed on stage by 13-year-old Pre-College student Ava Pakiam.

After winning the Olympia Symphony Young Artist Competition last year, the young violinist Pre-College student performed as a featured soloist with the Olympia Symphony on October 15 where she played Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto. "This was one of the best performances I have ever had. It was exhilarating to be on stage with the conductor Alexandra Arrieche and such a fine orchestra," Ava said of the experience. 

Ava also performed Mothership, a work by Mason Bates, who has been on SFCM composition faculty since 2014. She received a standing ovation after her performance, and was asked to come back and perform again with the symphony. "I loved this music so much. It was energizing and it felt really electrifying to put a modern piece like this together!" Ava added. 

Ava Pakiam Simon James

Ava Pakiam and her teacher SFCM's Simon James.

To prepare for the concert, Ava worked with her teacher in the Pre-College program, Simon James. "I have been gradually performing each movement with piano in rep classes and at SFCM on Saturdays in preparation. Then, a week or so before the event, I was given the opportunity to present the full concerto with pianist Miles Graber in Cha Chi Ming Hall at the Bowes Center," she said. 

This performance was the latest in a string of big concerts for the young teen. She performed with the Prometheus Symphony in Oakland in May, and last year and with the Seattle Symphony after being named one of their 2022 Young Artists. Video of her performing went viral on SFCM's TikTok channel, to the tune of 3.3 million views. 

It will be a busy fall for Ava as well, she will perform at SFCM again November 12 as part of a performance with pianist Cole Anderson. 

Learn more about SFCM's Pre-College Division.