14-Year-Old Pre-College Student Shines as Soloist with Oakland Symphony
The summer Symphony concert was held at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza at the foot of Oakland’s City Hall with SFCM Pre-College student and Opus 3 Artist Amaryn Olmeda on violin.
By Mark Taylor
Some teens spend their summers relaxing, or at summer camp, but 14-year-old Amaryn Olmeda is no ordinary teen. The young violinist was a featured performer for the Oakland Symphony’s “Summer Stage at Oakland City Hall,” a free outdoor concert at the foot of Oakland’s City Hall on August 4 with guest conductor Kedrick Armstrong.
“The Oakland Symphony is full of great people, and playing with them is like playing with family. They are such an easygoing group, and are willing to try my ideas,” Amaryn said of the experience. Amaryn performed two pieces with the symphony: “Summerland” by William Grant Still and “Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso” by Camille Saint Saëns. The talented teen is no stranger to soloing with orchestras, as back in January she performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
This was not the first collaboration between Amaryn and the Oakland Symphony. When Amaryn was 10 she met the Symphony during a school tour performance with then-Music Director Michael Morgan. “To have the support from a symphony of this caliber is absolutely incredible” said Amaryn’s mother Twyla Olmeda. “The people of Oakland are incredibly warm and gracious, too. These concert experiences only help to nurture Amaryn's talents and provide a platform for her to share music with the world. I am truly thankful to the Symphony for having her as a soloist, and I look forward to their future collaborations," she added.
In addition to the symphony musicians, Amaryn worked closely with Oakland Symphony Executive Director Dr. Mieko Hatano, who first met the young violin player nearly six years ago, “Amaryn is an incredible talent and we were so happy she could perform with guest conductor Kedrick Armstrong for our special outdoor performance at Oakland City Hall,” Dr. Hatano continued. “It is not often you get to discover someone at 8 years old and watch them grow into such a joyful virtuoso.”
Amaryn has been part of SFCM's Pre-College division for several years, studying with instructor Ian Swensen. Amaryn is also the first member of SFCM’s new Artist Apprentice Program, a mentorship initiative that pairs seasoned managers with an outstanding early-career musician and a network of support carefully crafted for the individual. It’s part of the growing partnership between SFCM and Opus 3 Artists, which SFCM acquired in 2020. As an official Opus 3 Artist, at 14, Amaryn is its youngest member. In 2021 she was also awarded first prize and the audience choice award at the 24th Annual Sphinx Competition, the national competition featuring young Black and Latinx classical string players.
Even as her accolades and talents continue to grow, for Amaryn, her favorite part continues to be her time on the stage, making the music she loves. “There was so much energy and excitement that evening, and I was thrilled to share these beautiful pieces with the people of Oakland. My goal is always to bring joy to the audience and to give them a good memory when attending a classical music concert.”
Learn more about SFCM’s Pre-College Division.