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Palm Coast Friday, Feb. 11, 2022 11 months ago

Lessons in progress: AAUW Flagler grant recipient Hannah Lopez advances in Flagler Youth Orchestra

Female students, grades 7-11, in Flagler County, may apply for this year's grant until March 18.
by: Brian McMillan Contributing Writer

Playing Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” on her violin is so intense that it can feel like a form of exercise, says 17-year-old Palm Coast resident Hannah Lopez says. She uses the music to take out her aggression. With other pieces of music that she plays for the Flagler Youth Orchestra, she can express feelings of sadness.

“It lets me get it all out,” Lopez said, in an interview on a park bench at Central Park in Town Center, in the afternoon sun.

Lopez’s violin skills have progressed a great deal in the nine years since she began playing, and especially in the past couple of years, after taking private lessons from Sue Cryan. The lessons were funded by a $500 grat in 2019 from the Flagler County Branch of American Association of University Women. To apply for this year's grant, see the sidebar.

Prior to the lessons, Lopez said, she had auditioned for the FYO Quartet but didn’t make the cut. But her confidence grew.

“This year, I made it,” she said with a smile. Now, she plays second violin for the exclusive group.

Lopez said her father suggested the cello when she first joined the FYO. She chose the violin instead because “that’s the complete opposite,” she said with a laugh.

Her playing in the early days could be described as “confident screeching,” but her mother, Natalie, didn’t want to discourage her from playing, so she didn’t protest. Then, in the middle of Lopez’s second year with FYO, Natalie Lopez had a realization during one of Lopez’s practice sessions at home: “It was really pleasant to hear.”

It’s gotten more and more pleasant ever since. And Lopez continues to find time to play throughout the day, sometimes for three or four hours at a time.

“During the day, she doesn’t pack it away,” Natalie Lopez said. “She’ll play a little bit, and then she’ll set it in the case, which is usually on the table or on her bed. … She’s happiest, some days, when she’s playing.”

The FYO’s next concert is 7 p.m. Feb. 14, at the Flagler Auditorium. Tickets will be available at the Flagler Auditorium box office, online, or by calling 386-437-7547. Adult tickets are $8 with $1 from each ticket going to the Auditorium’s Arts in Education Fund. Children 17 and under are $3.

Hannah Lopez, 17, has played violin for the past nine years. Some days, she plays for three or four hours at a time; other days, she steals five minutes here and there. Photo by Brian McMillan


Brian McMillan was editor of the Palm Coast Observer from 2010 to 2022. He was named the Journalist of the Year for weekly newspapers in North America by the Local Media Association in 2012. He lives in Palm Coast with his wife and five children....

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