Vera Zhao is The Artist

Vera Zhao, senior, was the featured piano soloist last Sunday at the Central Iowa Symphony’s winter concert. How did she acclaim such a prominent spot? Hard work, raw talent, and winning the Symphony’s Young Artists Competition. The competition was open to wind, brass, percussion, string, and piano students in high school. For the audition, applicants were expected to perform a five minute solo piece from memory, which they expect to perform at the concert. Zhao was selected out of the best young musicians in Central Iowa. “The audition process was surprisingly not very stressful,” Vera said. “I had been learning the piece for a year and a half by the time of auditions, so I was very comfortable and confident.” The concert took place at Ames’ City Auditorium, at which Zhao performed four classical pieces. She was gazed upon by hundreds of spectators, waiting for her to begin the beautiful music on black and white keys. The Symphony also performed, made up of mostly Not-So-Young Artists sprinkled with other high school students from band or orchestra. “ The most memorable experience was probably walking out in front of the crowd for the first time and seeing how many people came to the performance, despite the snow,” Vera said. “They came to support their friends and family in the symphony and it really showed how strong community is and how important the arts are in Ames.” Vera has been playing piano for eleven years, and will further her music as a College-Aged Artist. “I’m definitely planning on continuing my music lessons in college, going for at least a minor in musical performance,” she said. Along with piano, Vera enjoys fearlessly leading Key Club, killing the competition on her iQuiz team Renee and Friends, and studying paper wasps in an ISU lab.