This time of year can be an especially busy time for seniors in high school. There are all kinds of things going on — exams, dances, senior skip days, college applications and so on.
It’s even more hectic when you’re a top-notch young musician like Mei Stone, a senior studying flute performance at Interlochen Arts Academy.
Stone's very busy year has been highlighted by all sorts of awards and accolades. She’s been selected to the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America for the second consecutive year, and was also one of the winners in this year’s Interlochen Arts Academy Concerto Competition. She was also recently awarded the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award, and appeared on NPR’s From The Top radio show. (You can hear Mei perform on the show later this month, on Classical IPR).
Stone also took first place in the Marine Band Concerto Competition in Washington D.C. This weekend, she’ll return to the nation’s capitol to perform as a soloist with “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band.
Will President Obama be in attendance?
“That’d would be cool,” Stone says. “We’ll see.”
She’ll be performing Chaminade’s Concertino on Sunday, a piece Stone says she started working on last year. She says she likes the fact that it’s got a little bit of everything.
“It starts out very lyrical and very passionate, and then it changes into something really exciting,” says Stone. “And then it comes back — it’s sort of like a homecoming. It’s really nice.”
One of the challenging aspects of playing Chaminade’s Concertino is the many fast runs throughout the piece. Stone says the tendency for a piece like this is to play really fast. She has to focus on staying calm mentally and physically.
“I have to do a lot of slow practice to get those scales really smooth,” she says.
“Terror” is the word Mei Stone jokingly uses as the word to describe what it’s like being a featured soloist on stage in front of a large audience. She says it’s a very exhilarating experience, and it's fun to bring the music to life in her own interpretation.
“You hear the same pieces over and over again, but everybody has a different interpretation of it. And I try to bring the composer justice when I do that,” says Stone.
Mei Stone started playing the flute when she was nine years old. She says most of the other instruments were too big for her diminutive stature at the time. Eight years later, Stone never dreamed her flute would take her to Washington to perform with “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band.
“I don’t remember what I thought when I first started, but I didn’t expect to get this far at all,” she says.
Mei Stone is almost done with her college admissions process, and expects to officially commit to a school by the end of this month. After school, she hopes to work in a studio orchestra, and perform soundtracks for movie scores.