Violinist Mallory Hayes’ accomplishments read like those of a more experienced musician.
She’s been a regional finalist of the Music Teacher’s National Association competition and winner of the Greater Anderson Musical Arts Consortium Concerto Competition. Recently, she was named principal second violin with the Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra, the youngest person ever to earn a leadership position with the orchestra. Last weekend, Hayes and other violinists took the stage with world-renown violinist Itzhak Perlman.
Though her career has already hit some high notes, Hayes is only 20, and a rising junior at Converse College, where she is concert mistress of the college symphony. She auditioned and received a full scholarship to attend the summer camp at Brevard Music Center, where she was chosen to play with the faculty symphony, another noted accomplishment for someone so young. The faculty symphony accompanied Perlman on several short pieces for the performance. The camp began last week, and Hayes has spent seven hours or more a day rehearsing, often late into the night.
“The students playing with the orchestra are so excited, and nervous at the same time,” Hayes said before her performance with Perlman.
Hayes, a Pinehurst, N.C., native, first took up the violin when she was 5 years old, having heard the instrument at her brother Brian’s recitals, where he played piano. The homeschooled student later attended the N.C. School for the Arts, where she met Sarah Johnson, associate professor of violin at Converse. Hayes is one of Johnson’s students at Converse.
“She does not ever surprise me with her successes,” Johnson said of the star student. “Even as a little girl, she was serious, very intelligent, dedicated and disciplined. She was extraordinary for that.”
Johnson said it’s no surprise that Hayes earned a prestigious spot with the local philharmonic, or that she accompanied Perlman on stage last weekend, praising her ear, coordination, sense of tone and overall natural ability and musicianship.
“She takes great initiative and handles critiques well,” Johnson said. “She is also modest, not quick to criticize and is helpful and supportive in the classroom.”
Hayes is majoring in violin performance at Converse. She rehearses four to five hours a day when school is in session, and five hours a day during the summer. She plans to obtain a graduate degree from a prominent music school and hopes to perform with a symphony as a professional musician. She’d also like to start a chamber group and travel.
Being a music student with the intent of becoming a professional takes countless hours of practice. But for Hayes, her reason for loving to play the violin is simple.
“It’s fun,” she said. “When I go into a practice room, I can forget about school work and what’s bothering me. It’s always been my escape.”
This story was written by Jenny Arnold of the Spartanburg Herald-Journal.