Violist with the mostess
Molly Carr, an 18-year-old, home-schooled, classical violist, is shy and just a little uncertain on the phone. But in person, talking about music, she’s charismatic and almost gregarious.
Tall and thin with long, straight, blond hair, she looks like your average high-school girl. But, atypically, she can gush about Brahms, Bartok or Bach and muse about her unfamiliarity with French classical compositions.
Carr began playing the violin when she was 6 and instantly felt an affinity with the instrument.
“Someone came into town to start a student orchestra,” she recounts. “My mom asked what I wanted to play, and I said the drums. She said ‘no way.’ So then I picked the violin. It just clicked really fast.”
When she was 11, a music teacher handed her a viola, a deeper-sounding version of the violin, and she immediately took to its richer, melancholy tones.
“That’s when my life started going towards music,” she says.
Carr’s schedule is not for the faint of heart. She spent her freshman year at a private school but found it too inflexible to allow for training and competing. Being home-schooled allows her to practice three to six hours each day.
She attends voice-training and music classes at the University of Nevada, Reno, and if that isn’t keeping her busy enough, astronomy and writing classes at Truckee Meadows Community College. And then it’s back to UNR for piano classes.
She travels to New York City and San Francisco to study, and since 2002, she’s spent summers in NYC at the (Itzhak) Perlman Music Program training camp.
“It’s like a paradise,” she says of the program’s non-competitive atmosphere. “You go and have fun and get to be a more well-rounded person, not just practice all day long and be a total recluse.”
Carr has racked up an impressive resume of scholarships and performances. Her many public appearances include playing at Carnegie Hall with the New York String Orchestra, performing on PBS’s Live From Lincoln Center, and participating in National Public Radio’s From The Top. She has soloed with the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra, the Reno Chamber Orchestra and the Carson City Symphony.
At the age of 14, Carr became the youngest musician ever to win a contract position with the Reno Phil. The orchestra wasn’t quite sure what to do with someone so young, but Carr’s father, Richard, assured everyone that she could handle playing in a professional setting. Now she thinks of the orchestra members as family.
Carr participated in ARTS Week, Jan. 10-16, the National Foundation for the Advancement in the Arts’ event, in Miami, Fla., where 125 of the nation’s best 17- and 18-year-old performing and visual artists competed for cash and scholarship awards.
For Carr, the week’s schedule was a lot like usual, but even more intense. She met with her peers for the first time on Thursday, and they had until Saturday to forge new personal connections and master a new piece of music for a performance.
Carr says she and her new pals have been keeping in touch. Now she’s preparing to apply to three schools on the East Coast—the Juilliard School, the Manhattan School of Music and Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music—so maybe she’ll see them this fall at school.