A rare treat
A teenage virtuoso on the cello inspired calls of ‘Bravo!’ Saturday night after she amazed an audience of 400 at the third annual Louisville Orchestra concert at Corydon Central High School.
Seventeen-year-old Natalie Helm of Louisville, who has been playing cello only a few years, played an extremely difficult piece by Tchaikovsky. By the time she had finished her dazzling 25-minute performance, ‘Variations on A Rococo Theme, Opus 33,’ with no sheet music in front of her, the audience was on its feet and conductor Robert Franz was eager to give her a hug. Friends rushed forward with bouquets of flowers.
Louise Harris of Louisville was on the front row. A cellist herself who recently retired from the Louisville Orchestra after a 40-year career, Harris came to the concert to see the musician she knew first as a violin prodigy (she started playing violin at age two and the cello at 11). ‘You have just seen brain surgery,’ Harris said, because the Tchaikosky work is so demanding and the artist is so accomplished.
Helm studies once a week with the first chair cellist in the Cincinnati Orchestra and plans to become a professional musician. She started out as a young, gifted and stylish violinist with the Louisville Youth Orchestra. She is also a brilliant math student in calculus and an accomplished swimmer. Helm was a state-class swimmer for the Lakeside Seahawks Swim Team in the mile before giving that up to concentrate on her music, often practicing six hours a day, said her mother, Linda Helm. (Harris said performing well is ’95 percent perspiration ‘ practice ‘ and five percent inspiration.’)
And one more fascinating note: Helm has never been to school. Her mother homeschools her.
The concert, the L.O.’s third in Corydon, has been a fund-raiser for the Leora Brown School. However, this year, the event will just break even, said organizer and Brown School owner Maxine Brown of Corydon. The dinner at the Leora Brown School was moved to the high school because of bad weather, and with only 400 people at the concert, the event will just cover the orchestra fee of $15,500, Brown said.
Brown said her aim is to fill the auditorium next year.
Another pleasant surprise at the concert was the appearance of mezzo soprano Erica Scott of New Albany, who sang ‘Summertime’ and then, with baritone Lewis Washington of Louisville, ‘Bess, You Is My Woman.’ Both songs are from ‘Porgy and Bess.’
Scott is a first year counselor at Corydon Elementary School who was singing with the L.O. for the first time.