On March 1, Samford Freshman Rebekah Willard performed a violin solo as a part of the Samford Orchestra performance. Willard received this honor after being named one of the two winners of the Samford Concerto Aria Competition.
The Concerto Aria Competition is an annual recognition of talented Samford music students. The number of winners varies year to year depending on the diversity of submissions. In addition to Willard, vocalist Bradyn Debysingh was also selected as a winner.
Students submitted auditions for the Concerto Aria Competition in November. Willard said that she began practicing her piece for the audition in August at the start of the fall semester.
“Basically, we picked a concerto, since it’s a concerto aria, that we had been working on or that we had played before, and then we recorded that and sent that in. And that was our audition,” Willard said.
Willard was incredibly grateful to have been selected as a Concerto Aria winner. She has extensive experience as a soloist, but this was her first time performing a solo with the Samford Orchestra.
“It wasn’t my first experience soloing with an orchestra, but it was still so fun. I love being out there on the front, but then just also being able to look back at everyone while we’re all playing together,” Willard said.
Willard is no stranger to performing as she began studying the violin when she was 5 years old. Her mother was a piano performance major and wanted Willard to grow up with a strong musical foundation.
“My mom was going to start me on piano because that’s what she played, but she just felt the Lord calling to her saying that I was going to play the violin,” Willard said. “(My mom) says that she just handed me a violin and the Lord took it from there.”
Willard is now a Violin Performance major at Samford University, but she plans on minoring in Social Entrepreneurship. She hopes to someday be a traveling violin soloist and to work for a non-profit organization that grants scholarships to music students for them to be able to afford a high quality music education.
Willard ascribed this desire to her own experience of being sponsored by a charitable foundation. From the time she was 8 years old through the end of high school, Willard drove three and a half hours from her hometown to Atlanta to take violin lessons from a talented teacher, an opportunity that she would not have been able to afford without her sponsorship.
“It impacted me so much. I know lots of other talented kids that come from small towns like me where there just aren’t as many opportunities,” Willard said. “And even in my own home town, there are lots of other talented musicians that want to grow, but financially can’t. I just kept seeing that and I wanted to do that for somebody else.”
Rebekah Willard’s performance can be viewed on her self-titled YouTube channel. For more information about upcoming Samford Orchestra performances, visit their Instagram, @samfordarts.