Orland teen’s career plan is closely tied to strings
BY CHERYL DANGEL BARTOLINI Correspondent January 17, 2014 2:14PM
Alaina Rea, who started playing the violin when she was 4 and later took up the viola, dreams of playing in a professional orchestra. | Supplied photo by Vince and Sandra Rea
Updated: February 21, 2014 6:02AM
Alaina Rea started playing the violin when she was 4, then later took up the viola.
Now she aims to make a career of performing with the instruments.
Rea, 17, of Orland Park, dreams of playing in a professional orchestra.
Then again, she’s already played at that level. The difference is when she graduates from college, she’d like to make it her full-time job.
Already, the Mother McAuley High School senior plays the viola with the prestigious Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras — whose efforts are billed as professional-level performances — on a part-time basis.
That is, if rehearsing every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., practicing throughout the week, and playing with the Mother McAuley High School orchestra can be considered a part-time gig.
It all started when her parents, Vincent and Sandra Rea, urged her to take violin lessons when she was 4.
“They thought I would be good at playing it,” Rea said.
So they would drive each week from Orland Park to her lessons in Elgin.
“It went from there,” Rea said. “As I got older, I started to really enjoy it and got more serious about it.”
She also got good at the violin, so good that she joined the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras when she was in third grade.
“I love playing music. Playing with the Chicago Youth Symphony is a group effort and it is a really different experience than anything else,” she said. “People there have similar interests, so you get to bond with them.”
As a sophomore in high school, she switched to the viola and ended up liking it. She plans to pursue mastering the viola in college.
She would like to double major in music and another field that she has not yet decided upon. She also would like to attend Northwestern University, Indiana University, the Cleveland Institute of Music, the University of Michigan, the Juilliard School or the Curtis Institute of Music.
In fact, she was invited last week to live auditions at both Juilliard and Curtis.
Meanwhile, she plays in the school orchestra, is a member of the National Honor Society, National English Honor Society and is a Catherine McAuley Scholar.
Recently, she had the opportunity to perform alongside Yo-Yo Ma, an acclaimed American cellist, at the Chicago Youth and Music Festival.
It is time-consuming, but Rea loves playing with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras.
“I enjoy the amount of things we learn, not just musical skills but skills we can use in life. It takes a lot of time management to balance schoolwork and music. You have to work hard and smart and prepare for a lot of auditions,” she said.
Rea said her private viola teacher, Desiree Ruhstrat, of Highland Park, should be credited for much of her success.
“She’s the person that encouraged me to switch to viola, and that brought a lot of opportunities to my musical life,” Rea said. “She supports everything and she is a really great mentor.”
Rea’s top priority right now is playing well so that she can ace her college auditions with the hope that she will receive a scholarship.
“That motivates me to practice harder,” she said.
Rea said her busy schedule doesn’t give her much down time, which is good.
“I can’t waste any time sitting around. I make the most of my time. If I get lazy, I’ll be really behind and I have to keep going,” she said.