The Jackson nonprofit Grand Teton Music Festival has released its Winter Festival line-up and while the schedule boasts several notable performances, the stand-out is Aubree Oliverson.
Oliverson, a 20-year old violinist, made her solo debut with the Utah Symphony at the age of 11 and has played at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center, and has been a featured performer on the NPR show “From the Top.”
“I have been very fortunate in the performances I’ve been able to do,” she said. “I wouldn’t have been able to achieve that without my teachers.”
Oliverson grew up in Orem, Utah and has visited the Tetons twice, once on a family vacation and once with a youth symphony, but this will be her first time here in the winter, and she’s excited about it.
“I love the snow, and I miss it,” she said. She has been studying at the Colburn Conservatory of Music in California for the last five years. After she graduates she’ll pursue her dreams of being a professional musician and, eventually, an educator.
Both Oliverson’s parents worked in education; her mother was a preschool teacher for nearly two decades and her father is an elementary school teacher. Her father taught her how to play piano and then she picked up a violin. While her parents expected their children to be motivated and diligent in their pursuits, Oliverson said she loved the violin so much that practicing almost never felt like a chore.
When she was younger, she left school for almost a year and spent that time traveling around Utah and the region holding assemblies at schools, introducing young students to classical music.
“We would invite one kid, usually a second grader, up on the stage and give them their first violin lesson, to show everyone that it was possible, then we would compose a song on stage using notes they had picked,” she remembered.
Oliverson treasured that experience and is happy that she’ll get the chance to perform at schools during the Winter Festival. GTMF balances entertainment with education; in addition to the three evening concerts, the festival provides master classes and school visits for local students.
“Whenever I can, I say yes to outreach opportunities,” Oliverson said.
As a musician, she sees the value of introducing young people to classical, not only for their benefit but also to foster future audiences.
“We love anyone who wants to listen, but it is important to get kids in particular interested and involved in classical.”
Oliverson’s recital will be on Saturday, Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. at St. John’s Episcopal Church. Her selections will showcase both her musical range and the dynamism of classical music. She’ll start with Handel’s Violin Sonata in D major, one of her favorite pieces.
“It was one of the first pieces I ever fell in love with,” she said. “It’s so full of joy.”
After Handel, Oliverson will perform Prokofiev’s Violin Sonata No. 1 in F minor, which she described as the absolute opposite of the first piece.
“It’s extremely dark, full of agony and tragedy,” she said. She has never performed it before.
From there it’s on to lighter fare; she’ll play Messiaen’s Theme and Variations, a piece she feels is underplayed and that she loves to perform.
“I have to give it everything I have as an artist, all the passion I can muster,” she said of the Messiaen. The recital will finish out on easy-listening, entertaining pieces from Kreisler, Chopin, and Wieniawski.
Like all the Winter Festival offerings, Oliverson’s performance will be free, but tickets are required. Visit gtmf.org for a full schedule and tickets.