The sound of graceful strings
Kyle Craft’s passion is for the violin and the music of Johann Strauss
Published: Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 1:55 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 1:55 p.m.
Over 100 local classical music fans were in attendance at St. Vincent’s Church this Dec. 2 to witness Kyle Craft’s prowess on his chosen instrument, the violin.
A Petaluma resident, Craft is only 19, but he has already determined his life’s pathway. While his peers busy themselves taking general course work to discover their potential strengths and possible career interests, Craft has wasted no time in choosing his calling. He is working to establish himself as a professional concert violinist devoted to the works of the famous violinist and composer, Johann Strauss. Strauss, a 19th century Austrian violinist and romantic composer, was known for his waltzes; “Blue Danube” being one of his most recognized works.
Craft performed as the featured soloist in the concert entitled, “Christmas in Europe.” Of course, Craft chose to perform works by his hero, Strauss, plus other pieces appropriate for the season.
Born in Hayward, Craft first fell in love with the “Waltz King’s” style of music at the tender age of 41⁄2 while attending a concert at San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall. The mild-mannered Craft remembers the fateful day and recalls, “My family and I attended a New Year’s symphony concert featuring, among others, the works of Strauss. I pointed to the violin section and blurted out from my seat, ‘I want to play that!’ Three months later, my grandparents bought me a full-sized violin, not knowing it would be impossible for a young child to handle an instrument of that size.”
After correcting the grandparents’ well-intentioned mistake, Craft’s parents enrolled him in “The Suzuki Method,” a Japanese style of violin instruction that starts children at very young ages and focuses on hearing and performance instead of the classic discipline of reading music. Craft remembers going through two or three teachers over the next 71⁄2 years and never really falling in love with the teaching method or ever really developing passion for the music he played.
His practicing and dedication waned to the point where he stopped playing completely for a few months. But at age 12, His mother showed him a video recording of Andre Rieu, who performed the works of Strauss around the world with his own 50-piece orchestra. Craft remembers, “I was just blown away. He played with such grace and passion!”
His motivation reignited, Craft began studying under local violin instructor, Jeanette Isenberg. Craft credits Isenberg’s patience in working with him to relearn some of the basics to build and polish his technique. He recalls, “By then I was in junior high school and my peers didn’t really understand my dedication toward something so far removed from pop culture. But they eventually came to accept it as part of who I am.”
Isenberg recommended that Craft continue his studies in the preparatory department of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. After some course work there, Craft is now in his first year at Santa Rosa Junior College. He is hoping to get past the required theory courses so he can concentrate on “simply playing the instrument.”
Last year, Craft targeted yet another skill to his challenge list. He is determined to become fluent in German. He explained his advantage there, saying “I was raised in a tri-lingual family with a grandfather from Peru and a grandmother from Germany.” He hopes that mastering Strauss’s native language will enable him to read all that’s been written about the composer, bringing him ever closer to his idol.
This past summer Craft was able to travel to Austria, Germany, and Switzerland on a school trip. After the scheduled 12 days, he elected to stay for an additional month on his own for a little total immersion language study. The trip has inspired Craft to consider moving to Austria to further his studies.
When asked if there is any non-classical music he likes, Craft was quick to mention “Open Arms” by the rock group, Journey. Kyle Craft has chosen his personal journey and hopes that audiences will embrace his efforts with open arms.
(Contact Sheldon Bermont at argus@arguscou rier.com)
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