A gift from her grandmother uncovered a natural talent for University View Academy 9th grader Lorena King of Baton Rouge. Four years ago, she received violin lessons. She’s now so adept at playing the instrument that she was named a member of the prestigious Louisiana Youth Orchestra. Lorena is humble when talking about her progress over the short time but not in describing the feeling when she plays. “I feel happy. It’s fun to play,” she gushed. Her grandmother, Julie, gave Lorena the lessons for her birthday. She said she was surprised by Lorena’s progress. “It’s a lot of fun to watch,” she said proudly. Even during the COVID-19 lockdown, Lorena thrived in her musical endeavors. “We just did video calls once a week,” she explained. “It worked,” her grandmother offered.

Lorena fits her violin practice around a heavy academic schedule. She’s a UVA Early College High School member and aims to graduate with an associate’s degree. Practice takes three to four hours per week, and Lorena admits to needing the work to eliminate some bad playing habits. Also, the Louisiana Youth Orchestra meets each week, where she plays with fellow high school and college students. Lorena is also a member of a string chamber music group. Her younger brother plays the cello while she and a friend play the violin. The group recently won the Gold Medal at the New Orleans Chamber Fest for their rendition of “The Entertainer” by Scott Joplin and Mozart’s Divertimento #1: Allegro. Part of the prize was a Master Class with professional musicians at Tulane University.

Lorena admits music may not be her calling. She’s eyeing a career in science or math, possibly an Information Technology Degree with a concentration in Cybersecurity. But Lorena won’t stop playing the violin. “I definitely want to continue playing after college. I want to pick up a piece of music, play it and enjoy it,” she explained. Another goal is to play Cajun Music by learning to fiddle.

Lorena’s grandmother is her UVA Learning Coach, who says the family picked UVA to attend because of the flexibility of the curriculum and the high school electives. Lorena and her brother are in the Gifted and Talented Music programs and their fourth year at UVA. Aside from music, Lorena is involved in her church youth group, the National Junior Honor Society, and likes traveling, camping, hiking, and kayaking with her parents and siblings. “Outdoors is very big for us,” her grandmother added.

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