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West Side Story

The student news source of Iowa City West High

West Side Story

The student news source of Iowa City West High

West Side Story

Staff Profile
Tyler Shane 26
Tyler Shane
FOJ Intern

Tyler is a sophomore at West. He is an intern and this is his first year on staff. If not at practice, he's probably at home sleeping.

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Q&A with Violinist Sabrina Du ’25

Three-year All-Stater Sabrina Du ’25 shares her journey with playing the violin and her experiences in the West High Orchestras.
Courtesy of Sabrina Du
Sabrina Du ’25 poses at Carnegie Hall, where she will played with other students across the United States.

What got you interested in playing the violin and how long have you played?

I got interested. Well, I kind of got forced because my older sister played violin, so it was kind of automatic for my parents to just put me in violin when I was really young. But over the years, I’ve just come to love it on my own and I’m actually pretty happy that my parents did that now. And I’ve been playing it for [about] 10 years. It’s been a long time.

So, you’re a three-year All-Stater so far. Can you tell me about the process and how you feel about All-State?

I really like All-State. It’s a really enriching experience. It’s really worth it. [A lot of] preparation goes into it, and it’s just really fun because at All-State you spend a lot of time with the other people from West, and you just get to connect with them and get closer with them, even if you don’t have a lot of classes with them or you’re in different grades.

How would you say All-State has affected your development with the violin? 

[All-State]’s like an honor orchestra and it’s just nice to play at an orchestra at a really high level. It’s probably the highest level we could get in the state, and it’s really nice because you can meet other players from around the state who are also really [at the] top of their own orchestras. Overall, it just helps because you [get to] play really advanced and cool pieces that are really modern or funky, and I just like that experience. I also think the pieces are definitely very challenging. It takes a lot of practice to be able to play them. It develops your skills, but it also just introduces you to a whole community of musicians statewide. 

I heard you played at Carnegie Hall sophomore year. Could you tell me a bit more about that? 

That was part of a program that some other people have also done, but basically, I just applied in the fall, and I was pretty happy when I got in. Playing at Carnegie Hall was definitely a highlight of my violin career. But Carnegie Hall is just like any other Hall. It doesn’t feel [that] different, but it’s really nice. It’s really pretty, and it has a lot of historical significance, which is pretty cool. Just knowing that you get to play in a place that hundreds of famous soloists across all different music disciplines have played in before really makes you very grateful for the experience.

You were the concertmaster at this year’s Metropolitan Orchestra Festival, which was performed at the Paramount Theatre and had students from all across Southeastern Iowa. How did you feel leading up to it? 

I was definitely very grateful and happy to get concertmaster. I really liked the hall that we played in, and I’ve played at the Paramount before. I like performing on that stage. We got to play with a professional band. They definitely enhanced our playing a lot, and it brought a whole new level to our playing when we were performing with them versus regular rehearsals. Overall, [it was] a great experience.

What is your favorite memory from orchestra? 

I have a lot. Off the top of my head, one of my favorites is probably All-State just because I’ve been doing it for so long and it’s just really nice. I [also] went to a summer camp for violin. t’s kind of the same thing as All-State. I got to meet a lot of people from around the US who were good at violin, and it was just a great experience. [Additionally], I got to play at a really high level. It really just opened my eyes to a whole community of violinists nationwide. 

What’s next with the violin for you? 

I’m looking forward to doing another year of All-State next year, [my] fourth and final year, which is sad, and it’s very nostalgic if that’s the right word for it. I’m excited because it’s always a great experience. I’m [also] just excited to see what pieces we play because every year, the pieces they choose just get better and better. I’m looking forward to continuing to do things with Cadenza. We’re having one more retirement home concert coming up, and then we’re also doing our final concert of the year, which is going to be really great. We’re hoping we’ll get a really good turnout of people who come. 

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About the Contributor
Mrudani Ramkumar, Print News Editor
(she/her) Mrudani Ramkumar is a junior at West High and this is her second year on staff. Mrudani's the News Editor for the print edition. Outside the newsroom, she's part of the tennis team and plays the violin. In her free time, she likes to read and spend time with her friends.
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