Since he first picked up a violin at age seven, Alex Harada has been fas- cinated by the instrument’s rich and resonant tone. He was quickly referred to a master teacher for intensive lessons and now, at age 17, has become one of the area’s preeminent young players.
In addition to being concertmaster for Findlay High School’s symphony and chamber orchestras, he has been concertmaster for the Toledo and Lima youth orchestras, and received honors from regional, state and national youth orchestras. He has played at Carnegie Hall with select high school orchestras for two years, as well as playing at many local, state and national events. Most recently, he was selected by the National Association for Music Educa- tion (NAME) to be in the All-National Honor Orchestra for the second con- secutive year, and will join about 150 hand-picked high school musicians in a gala concert in Nashville this month. He is one of only four students from Ohio in the symphony orchestra.
He is the son of Toyomasa and Toshie Harada of Findlay, and is a high school senior. He studies under Merwin Siu of the Toledo Symphony Orchestra.
Playing at such a high level in- volves a lot of dedication – why is that effort worth it?
In a word, I can share my music with the audience. There are hours of practice preparing music before a recit- al or a concert, but the goal is to make the listeners happy to hear me play. Additionally, I always look forward to meeting other talented musicians in a high-status orchestra such as the NAME National Honor Orchestra to make music together.
Do you have a favorite solo performance piece?
I love the American composer Sam- uel Barber’s violin concerto very much. It is my best fit music partly because I won the concerto competition with this music three years ago; partly because this music changes its mood so dynami- cally from sweet and tender beauties, to beast-like intensity as movements go by. It is really beautiful music. To perform the Barber concerto in competition, I practiced more than one year.
What is the hardest piece you have ever mastered? How long did that take?
Bach’s Chaconne. Bach, as always, is hard to grasp for his interpretation be- tween passages and notes. What makes this piece hard is the arpeggio. It is truly tricky and needs a perfect control of left fingers’ quick movement along with right fingers’ lightness without any ten- sion…it took me three months to learn Chaconne.
Do you play other instruments?
Since my mother wanted me to take a proper piano lesson just for fun and for producing precise sound for my violin, I almost had to begin taking piano les- sons at several points in the course of learning violin. I have kept saying “No!” I just could not imagine that I would commute to two instructors’ houses and practice violin and piano at home. So , at this time, I don’t play other instruments seriously.
What kinds of sacrifices have you made to pursue music?
In pursuing music, I had to skip practice and eventually quit baseball, which I had played for a number of years. As my violin dedication became greater, I could not risk injuring my fingers. Additionally, the sheer amount of time I put into playing violin limited my performance and commi ment to track and field during my sophomore and junior year, so I quit altogether. Even if I was fast enough as a sprinter, it’s not right to run a race without enough commitment. Indeed, I would have been hurting the team’s morale if I was on the team. I hope to completely commit myself to track this spring.
What are your future plans?
I want to study international relations, law and economics in order to work on the world stage in an effective manner, while pursuing my music career in college and beyond.