13-year-old Pre-College student to perform with Philadelpha Orchestra

Amaryn Olmeda, Violin, Pre-college, SFCM, Philadelphia Orchestra

After starting violin at age four, Amaryn Olmeda has been a part of SFCM's Pre-College division for almost two years.

Amaryn Olmeda will be a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra in a Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute concert on January 17th.

By Mark Taylor

For many people your teenage years are known for figuring out who you are and what you stand for, but for Amaryn Olmeda one thing is already very clear. She has got talent, and people are noticing. 

The 13-year-old violin player will be a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin in a Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute concert on January 17th. To say she is excited would be an understatement, “I am so humbled and thrilled, to play with an orchestra of this caliber will be an amazing experience I will never forget,” Amaryn said. She is also looking forward to celebrating an icon of civil rights, “I am especially honored to perform for such a special concert honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his important contributions to our world.” 

Amaryn will be performing Adoration by Florence Price. To prepare she has been researching the life and works of Price, an African-American composer, pianist, and organist, “I read about her life and her inspiration for writing this piece,” Amaryn continued, “Growing up in the Jim Crow era was very hard for her, and I imagine she wrote this piece as a way to find comfort through music.” Amaryn's performance will also include a secret surprise, “The orchestra asked me to play an encore, so I have a flashy one ready to go!” 

The opportunity comes after Amaryn was the 1st prize winner of the Sphinx Competition last year. Part of her prize was solo appearances with major orchestras. 

The young violinist has played with numerous orchestras before but this is the first time she will be performing with a top 5 orchestra, “I thought maybe that is something I would do when I’m 25 and have been working hard for years, but I get that opportunity now, and I am so happy, I feel very lucky and truly thankful,” Amaryn said.

For almost two years Amaryn has been studying with instructor Ian Swensen in SFCM’s Pre-College division, “He is the reason why I feel so confident about performing with an orchestra of this caliber,” Amaryn said. For this performance, she worked with Mr. Swensen on certain vibrato techniques, then put her own spin on the music. “I worked on my own interpretation of the piece, then played it for Mr. Swensen. He gave me a few things to think about, but overall he really liked my interpretation.”

For Amaryn’s mother Twyla Olmeda, calling her a proud parent would not do her feelings justice, “We have taught our children that it is important to follow their dreams, and be a blessing in the world, and Amaryn does just that. She touches so many people with her music and she knows she has a special gift and a rare opportunity,” Twyla Olmeda said. Her mother will be traveling to Philadelphia with her for the performance, “She is a great kid, a hard worker and a light in our world.”

Amaryn is a Starling Foundation Scholarship student with a scholarship sponsor, Joseph Chan. “Amaryn wouldn’t have these opportunities without the support and encouragement of the faculty and staff at SFCM Pre-College, her wonderful teacher, Ian Swensen, and her generous Pre-College scholarship sponsor, Joseph Chan,” Twyla Olmeda said. 

Amaryn’s performance with the Philidelphia Orchestra will be broadcast live on the radio on January 17th at 1:00 p.m. EST (10:00 a.m. PST). She also has another Family Concert scheduled with the Richmond Symphony during the week, making it a busy but memorable time for the young teen, “Nothing makes me happier than performing for a big audience, and with a great orchestra to support me doing that is a dream come true!” 

Learn more about the Pre-College Division at SFCM.