LAKEWOOD RANCH — Emily Blandon Kovar had been taking formal piano lessons for just six weeks when she won her first award on the instrument.
Soon after, the 14-year-old declared she wanted to perform Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” as her recital piece. Her teacher, Elizabeth Engels, considered the piece too difficult for a beginning player, but Emily, with an uncanny knack for all things musical, learned the entire thing while cooped up in the house for 10 days following an ear surgery.
Emily, a Lakewood Ranch resident, not only performed it at her recital but also at Braden River Middle’s recent Spring Concert. She also was awarded the Eighth Grade Band Director’s Award by Band Director Julie Duryea.
And to think — piano is Emily’s second instrument. Her true passion — the bassoon — is a whole other world filled with Superior ratings at two Florida Bandmasters Association solo and ensemble events and a stint with the Sarasota Orchestra’s Youth Symphony Orchestra.
“She has a stunning capability to play things from memory,” said mom Tammy Kovar.
Now, that capability has led Emily to her biggest accomplishment yet — acceptance into Interlochen Center for the Arts’ Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan. Considered one of the most prestigious arts programs in the country, the camp boasts alumni such as jazz pianist and singer Norah Jones, singer Josh Groban, opera and concert soprano Jessye Norman and more.
Emily leaves June 19 to join more than 3,000 aspiring student artists from all 50 states and more than 40 countries. She will attend a variety of classes and enjoy a variety of performances throughout the three-week camp.
Emily’s introduction to music came the day she arrived home from the hospital, Kovar said.
“I played classical CDs — Beethoven and Mozart — to her from the day she came home,” she said.
At just 2 years old, Emily began begging for a violin and later enrolled in the Suzuki method to learn the instrument. In middle school, Emily switched first to the clarinet and finally to the bassoon, which she picked up at the urging of her grandmother.
“I love the instrument,” Emily said. “It’s got great range. It can get really high and also low — in the tuba range. It also has that tenor sound — like a cello.”
Emily began taking bassoon lessons with Fernando Traba, principal bassoonist for the Sarasota Orchestra. It didn’t take long before she began turning heads.
“She started learning the bassoon in December (2007), and by January (2008), she earned a Superior at the solo and ensemble festival,” Kovar said.
In addition to performance, Emily also has begun composing.
“I have an arrangement for Pachelbel’s ‘Canon in D’ in my head,” she said. “I just need to write it down.”
Next year, Emily will attend Southeast High School for its International Baccalaureate program. From there, she hopes to attend The Juilliard School, graduate and earn a spot with a performing symphony.
“I love music — it’s so soothing,” Emily said. “I love listening to all the different sounds. Some are haunting, and I love it. (Music) just fills you up.”
Contact Michael Eng at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emily Blandon Kovar raised nearly all the tuition for the first session of the camp through various scholarships. She would like to be able to enroll in the second session. If anyone wishes to make a donation, please contact Tammy Kovar, email@example.com.
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