Caroline's concerto

Publication Date: Friday Apr 2, 1999

Caroline's concerto

Palo Alto's own Caroline Campbell is making a name for herself in the classical music world

by Keith Kreitman

A shot at standing tall on the stage of Carnegie Hall, the Valhalla of all musical venues in the United States, filling in for an ill or injured soloist is the fantasy dream of legions of young violinists. But that dream came true for Palo Alto's own Caroline Campbell.

As concertmistress of The New York String Orchestra, an annual 10-day gathering of specially chosen youths from across the country, she was asked to fill in for the injured concertmaster of the Boston Symphony in the performance of the Vivaldi Concerto for Four Violins in B minor. So there she was last December, at age 19, performing as an equal, shoulder to shoulder with veteran concertmasters of three major U.S. symphony orchestras, Cleveland, Baltimore and Los Angeles.

That hardly turned the head of this old pro. She has already had years of winning medals in string competitions and concertizing in this country and abroad. She appeared first as a soloist at age 8 with the Reno Philharmonic and went on to solo with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Indianapolis Symphony, Oakland-East Bay Symphony and others.

She has also appeared internationally in concerts, recitals and on radio in Canada, England and central Europe. Coming up this year, there are solo engagements with the Cleveland Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony and Corpus Christi Symphony.

In 1998, she was selected as a Presidential Scholar in the arts--the only one in this elite group who was chosen for being a classical musician. In June of last year that group was honored at a White House ceremony by President Bill Clinton.

Since she started at age 3 with violin lessons, there has been little doubt in her mind about what she wants to achieve: to make her mark as a violin soloist. But it is a much more difficult feat today than at any time in memory. There are so many fine soloists knocking at that same door.

"But, it is much more than just playing," she said. "It is doing something you really love and going around the world, sharing music and finding new friends."

She is presently a freshman at the Cleveland Institute of Music, one of the premiere music schools in the nation, where she is currently the student of its president, David Cerone. She already has graduated from that school's Young Artists Program for high school students while attending Hathaway Brown Girl's High School in that same city.

In Palo Alto, she and her sister, Allison, live with their mother Melissa, a lawyer and a Stanford graduate. Allison, 17, is a student at Palo Alto High School and an accomplished ballet dancer who has been accepted by the prestigious American Ballet School in New York to study for the summer.

Across the street in College Terrace are their grandparents, Ed and Jean Loveless, whom Campbell credits with what musical talents she inherited. As a musical duo--Ed on clarinet and sax, and Jean on piano--Campbell's grandparents have played and sung the music of the '30s and '40s all over the world. It was her grandmother who initiated a family contribution project that purchased an extraordinary violin for Caroline, a French Vuillaume instrument produced in the early 1820s.

After being born in Albany, NY, and living for a time in Hawaii and Nevada, Caroline arrived in Palo Alto in time for sixth grade at Nixon Elementary School. After attending J.L.S. Junior High School, a year-and-a-half at Palo Alto High School and half-a-year at Gunn High School, she moved on to her studies in Cleveland at age 17.

While on the Peninsula, she was a member of the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra at age 12 and 13 before joining the San Francisco Symphony Youth Symphony for one year. To this day, she still performs solo fundraisers for local musical youth groups and the Palo Alto Unified School District. 

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