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At 12, talented violinist becomes Santa Rosa Youth Symphony's youngest concertmaster

Talented Santa Rosa middle-school violinist is a symphony concertmaster
Talented Santa Rosa middle-school violinist is a symphony concertmaster 02:42

SANTA ROSA (KPIX) - A talented 12-year-old is the concertmaster of the Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Orchestra making him the youngest in the organization's history spanning several decades, according to orchestra staff. His family and instructors hope it's an early accomplishment in a long career of music. 

"I saw my friend playing and it was really beautiful, and I thought I just want to be like that," said Henry Miller, a student at Herbert Slater Middle School. "I've just been brought so much joy while listening to music."

Miller asked his mother, a music teacher, to give him piano lessons when he was four years old. One year later, he would choose to switch to the violin after seeing a friend play that instrument. He has dedicated himself to the violin since then, practicing 15 hours a week. He is not only the concertmaster of the Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Orchestra, but also of the Young People's Chamber Orchestra. 

"I just love being the concertmaster, tuning the orchestra, talking with the conductor, being kind of the leader of the violins and, in a way, kind of the orchestra," he told KPIX 5. "It's really fun and the community is really kind and supportive."

While he demonstrated the skill and talent to take on a leadership role in the orchestra, Miller also had to prove he was mature enough to guide other musicians. 

The Youth Orchestra features students from age 12 to 23, many in high school. But Miller's time in the 2nd Violin section helped him meet more members of the group before becoming the principal violinist. 

"All the beautiful sounds it can make and I just love what I can play on the violin."  

Beyond the time he spends practicing at home and rehearsing with orchestras, he also gets private lessons with music teacher Aaron Westman. Miller demonstrated to him that he not only has the technique but the self-motivation to grow as a musician. 

"I get the impression that he wakes up in the morning and he thinks like, 'Oh boy I want to practice violin all day long!'" Westman said. "He doesn't strike me as the kind of kid that wants to be the best at everything, it's just, he just loves the violin so much, that's what he wants to do all the time."

The previous concertmaster of the Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Orchestra was in community college. It demonstrates how Miller is playing at a level comparable to someone twice his age. 

"Never discourage the child from following their passion, go learn about what they're doing."

Miller plans to look for camps and competitions to continue his pursuit of the violin. He hopes to become a music student that spends several hours a day practicing the instrument, leading to a life as a professional soloist. 

"I just want to be really skilled and really good at it, and have it as a career," he said. 

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