Shaila Patel and Natalie Wong

Shaila Patel, harpist, and Natalie Wong, violinist, are both rising juniors at Farmington High School in Connecticut. Shaila’s passion for playing the harp began at the age of 10. She was lucky to be exposed to music at a very young age and became fascinated with the harp after attending numerous performances of the New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra. For the past 6 years she has studied with Susan Knapp Thomas (Principal Harpist for the Hartford Symphony) and through her program has had the opportunity to perform chamber, orchestral and solo repertoire at many venues including the Mark Twain Holiday House Tour as well as numerous concerts with the Hart School Student Orchestras. She also performed with the middle school and high school Connecticut Northern Regional Orchestras and had the privilege of being selected by audition to perform with the Connecticut Youth Symphony Orchestra last year. Last summer she had the unique opportunity to be selected by audition to study in Italy with Katie Kennedy’s Music Adventure, an intensive chamber music study program which includes performances throughout Tuscany. She has recently formed the group Healing Harmonies, where she performs solo or joins forces with siblings and friends. Among other things, she performs for residents at local Connecticut nursing homes. She is also pursuing ways in which she can use my harp playing to assist children with special needs. She has specifically been researching how harp therapy has been effective in helping autistic children develop life and social skills. She is looking for any paying gigs that might request harp background music and performances. Natalie Wong is a violin student at the Hartt School Community Division, and has been studying with her private teacher, Donna Ngai, for 11 years. She has been a member of the Connecticut Youth Symphony since 10th grade and also participates in the Hartt School’s chamber music program. During the summer, Natalie furthers her musical studies with orchestra and chamber music programs. She previously attended the Heifetz program in Ithaca, NY, as part of the Ithaca Suzuki Institute, a rigorous three-week program for advanced violinists. Last summer, she was accepted into the Boston University Tanglewood Institute. During her six weeks there, she had the opportunity to perform with the orchestra at Seiji Ozawa Hall and the Koussevitzky Shed, as well as work with renowned coaches. This summer, she will attend the Curtis Institute of Music’s Summerfest in the Young Artists Program orchestra. She also has won awards for solo competitions, such as second and third place in the 2018 and 2019 Nutmeg Symphony Orchestra Young Artists competitions, respectively, and third place in the Junior Strings Division of the 2019 Connecticut Bach Festival. Recently, she had the opportunity to play the “Bach Double” violin concerto with the Manchester Symphony Orchestra, alongside fellow violinist Hannah Adler. She enjoys frequently playing violin around the community, whether as part of her school’s chamber orchestra, with her chamber group, or solo.

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