Practice makes perfect: Local teen selected for Carnegie Hall

Community School of Naples junior Adam Zhang, 16, performs during rehearsal at the school in Naples for an upcoming concert on April 22, 2009. Zhang has put together a concert to raise money for CSN's Financial Aid Program on Sunday, May 3, in the School's G & L Theater. Greg Kahn/Staff

Photo by GREG KAHN // Buy this photo

Community School of Naples junior Adam Zhang, 16, performs during rehearsal at the school in Naples for an upcoming concert on April 22, 2009. Zhang has put together a concert to raise money for CSN's Financial Aid Program on Sunday, May 3, in the School's G & L Theater. Greg Kahn/Staff

Adam Zhang a Community School of Naples senior, practices his violin at his home in North Naples on Feb. 17, 2010. Zhang has been selected to play in the 2010 American High School Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall in June. 'You're famous if you have a solo at Carnegie, so I'm like, right there,' Zhang said. Greg Kahn/Staff

Photo by GREG KAHN // Buy this photo

Adam Zhang a Community School of Naples senior, practices his violin at his home in North Naples on Feb. 17, 2010. Zhang has been selected to play in the 2010 American High School Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall in June. "You're famous if you have a solo at Carnegie, so I'm like, right there," Zhang said. Greg Kahn/Staff

Community School of Naples junior Adam Zhang, 16, performs during rehearsal at the school in Naples for an upcoming concert on April 22, 2009. Zhang has put together a concert to raise money for CSN's Financial Aid Program on Sunday, May 3, in the School's G & L Theater. Greg Kahn/Staff

Photo by GREG KAHN // Buy this photo

Community School of Naples junior Adam Zhang, 16, performs during rehearsal at the school in Naples for an upcoming concert on April 22, 2009. Zhang has put together a concert to raise money for CSN's Financial Aid Program on Sunday, May 3, in the School's G & L Theater. Greg Kahn/Staff

Community School of Naples freshman Leigh Raskauskas, 14, watches as junior Adam Zhang, 16, performs during rehearsal at the school in Naples for an upcoming concert on April 22, 2009. Zhang has put together a concert to raise money for CSN's Financial Aid Program on Sunday, May 3, in the School's G & L Theater. Greg Kahn/Staff

Photo by GREG KAHN // Buy this photo

Community School of Naples freshman Leigh Raskauskas, 14, watches as junior Adam Zhang, 16, performs during rehearsal at the school in Naples for an upcoming concert on April 22, 2009. Zhang has put together a concert to raise money for CSN's Financial Aid Program on Sunday, May 3, in the School's G & L Theater. Greg Kahn/Staff

Community School of Naples junior Adam Zhang, 16, performs during rehearsal at the school in Naples for an upcoming concert on April 22, 2009. Zhang has put together a concert to raise money for CSN's Financial Aid Program on Sunday, May 3, in the School's G & L Theater. Greg Kahn/Staff

Photo by GREG KAHN // Buy this photo

Community School of Naples junior Adam Zhang, 16, performs during rehearsal at the school in Naples for an upcoming concert on April 22, 2009. Zhang has put together a concert to raise money for CSN's Financial Aid Program on Sunday, May 3, in the School's G & L Theater. Greg Kahn/Staff

If you ask Adam Zhang how to get to Carnegie Hall, he certainly knows the answer.

Practice, practice, practice.

The 17-year-old Community School of Naples senior is one of 90 students selected for the Honors Orchestra for the 2010 American High School Honor Performance Series at Carnegie Hall in June.

“The Selection Board and Dr. Charles Peltz have reviewed your application and selected you to represent the finest high school performers in North America,” program director Marion Gomez wrote in Adam’s acceptance letter. “Your acceptance to the elite group is a direct result of talent, dedication and achievements demonstrated in your application.”

Adam received the nomination to apply for a spot in the orchestra after he was distinguished through the Florida All-State Concert Orchestra in 2008, when he sat as first-chair violin.

“It’s really exciting,” he said. “Carnegie Hall is the most famous concert venue in the world.”

The five-day program, which begins in New York City on June 23, includes a Saturday evening performance of the Honors Orchestra under the direction of renowned conductor Peltz; special recognition on the CBS “Early Show” broadcast; participation in a Julliard School seminar; and attendance of a Broadway performance.

Adam said he is excited about the Julliard seminar.

“We are going to be playing with professors that can really help you,” he said. “It is going to be really interesting.”

Once he was nominated for the spot, Adam had to send in an application and recordings of his violin playing. Adam submitted Brahms Violin Concerto and Etude by Bach.

“They were two relatively recent pieces that I had played,” he said of his choice.

Adam, who has been playing the violin since he was 5, is the youngest person to debut with the Naples Philharmonic.

Music is in his blood, he said, noting his father is a violinist and his mother is a pianist.

“Freshman year, violin became really natural to me,” he said. “(Music) is not just notes on a page. It’s images and scenery.”

Adam has studied with his father, James, a professional violinist, and Glen Basham, the concertmaster of the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra.

Adam said he tries to get in 45 minutes of practice each day during the week and more on the weekends.

But he isn’t worried about his performance at Carnegie Hall.

“I am really comfortable playing in groups,” he said. “I don’t have any nervous feelings whatsoever.”

Community School Upper School strings teacher Lisa Zeller said she isn’t surprised Adam has been given this opportunity.

“He has always had a deep love of music,” she said. “He’s very gifted. And he was blessed to have parents who are professional musicians. He has a great sense of humor; he’s really fun.”

Zeller said Adam, whom she also touts as really intelligent, will excel at Carnegie Hall.

“It’s really a wonderful opportunity for him,” she said. “He is ready to be at the next level and to be in a group of his peers — it will be a rich experience for him.”

Adam, who plans to study medicine in college with a possible minor in music, doesn’t remember much about his first trip to New York City, which happened when he was little. But as far as how June’s trip will rank in his life, he has little doubt.

“It will be a 10. It would be a tie between this and playing with the London Symphony Orchestra,” Adam said, referring to his performance with the famed orchestra in the Florida International Festival Institute’s AT&T Youth Ensemble two years ago.

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