Kreston (center) with Ben Penzner and Geneva Lewis. “It’s like being at camp,” Kreston said. (Photo: Geisel)
Top violinist Aimee Kreston and other special guest musicians also teach classical music’s “next generation” as part of Mammoth’s classical music festivals.
And two students making their mark on this year’s Sierra Summer Festival Orchestra shows are the Colburn School’s Geneva Lewis, 14, and Ben Penzner, 16, both winners of the Horton-Kohl award, which gives younger, prodigious musicians exposure usually reserved for older, more accomplished students. Ben, a violist, studies with Picken and Geneva, a violinist, studies is a Kreston student. Both play in a piano quartet that won the state’s prestigious VOCE competition and were chosen to play at the Mozarteum in Vienna, Austria. “It was stunning,” they said of the experience.
Ben was semi-finalist in the Johannes competition, one of 33 out of 150 to make that cut. He’s also played at the Disney Concert Hall and the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, where during one show he learned and played Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto #3 in one day. “I didn’t take up the viola until I was 11 … you might say I was a late bloomer,” he said. No wonder … his mother was a singer for many years on Broadway, and his dad, who studied classical, is mostly into bands such as Incubus and System of a Down these days.
“I like a lot of different music, but I always listened to music behind cartoons,” he said. He’s also studying dance, currently different music, but I always listened to music behind cartoons,” he said. He’s also studying dance, currently learning hip-hop and breaking and addition to ballet.
Geneva, meanwhile, has played with the Brentwood and Palmdale orchestras, and already knows how to get to New York City’s Carnegie Hall, where she played as part of the American Prodigy showcase. “I got introduced to the violin at 3 and decided to pursue it by 8,” she recalled. Kreston brought home some complex music from some rescoring of vintage Warner Brothers cartoons she’s been playing on, and had Geneva try her hand at those, playing straight through with no stopping. “I made it through pretty well,” she said of her effort. Geneva also studies dance, but likes to get out on the court for tennis as well.
During the week, they’ll study Beethoven’s 7th Symphony and play on Schubert’s Cello Quintet as part of Thursday ‘s “Future Visions” SFFO Chamber Ensemble performance.