Kristen Zak crescendos into success at regionals

  Positioning her violin under her chin habitually, sophomore Kristen Zak effortlessly recalls a piece from memory and amazes the room with her impressive talent.

Zak plays with her chamber group

  Zak, who was the only student to qualify for the orchestra regional competition, performed extremely well; she was seated third chair out of sixteen chairs in the second violin category and was selected to move on to states.

  The regional competition was held at Kennard-Dale High School in the South Eastern school district from February 27 to March 1.  Zak competed in the District 7 branch of the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association – or PMEA, regional competition.  According to the PMEA District 7 official website, the counties involved were Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry, and York.

  As reported by orchestra teacher Zachary Levi, Zak had to audition at districts for a certain chair, or ranking, by playing for a panel of judges before even competing at regionals.  After placing high enough in her section, Zak was selected to move on to regionals.

  Levi, who has seen 5 to 10 students qualify for regionals since he began teaching, recognizes the intense preparation needed in order to qualify for the competition.

  “District 7 has a lot of really strong music programs and a good tradition of strong music,” said Levi. “And it kind of rivals some of the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh schools, so a lot of the students are the best in the state.”

  Zak made sure to prepare thoroughly for regionals because of all the talented players she would be up against.

  “Physically, I practiced a lot and made sure I knew what I needed to,” said Zak. “Mentally, I stayed relaxed even though the competition was very tight. In comparison to sports, it was like playing the rival team.”

  Ever since third grade, Zak has strived to become the strongest violinist she can be. Violist and friend Brooke Weber has known Zak for nine years and  commends Zak for her diligence.

  “She is pretty amazing as a violinist,” said Weber. “She pushes through wanting to give up and practices as much as possible because she knows what she wants and how she can get it.”

  From an instructor’s standpoint, Levi has been extremely pleased with Zak’s work ethic and dedication so far.

  “Teaching her has been pretty tremendous because she has worked very hard,” said Levi.  “Music has been a top priority for her that she has been able to advance in her technique and skill.  It is almost like working with a professional musician, so a lot of times we get to work together as if we were colleagues.”

  Clearly, Zak’s hard work has paid off as she was chosen as one of the top 50 competitors in Pennsylvania.

   Zak will compete in Hershey, Pennsylvania at the PMEA All-State Festival with the All-State Orchestra from March 26-29.