First published on 28th July, 2013 in The Star
YOU may know that one of my favourite books of all-time is Virginia Euwer Wolff’s The Mozart Season, and that I love reading all books about the performing arts (or any of the arts, really). Call it the wishful thinking of an adult who did not have the typical opportunities afforded most middle-class, urban Malaysian children, including music and/or ballet lessons.
The lives of young dancers and musicians fascinate me: The talent, the passion, the dedication, the discipline. The Mozart Season is about a young violinist, Allegra; and I have also reviewed here, Four Seasons, the story of Ally, a conflicted teenage pianist. Two years on, and we have Lucy Beck-Moreau, the 16-year-old protagonist of The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr.
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First published on 17th April, 2011 in StarMag
Author: Janet Breskin Zalben
Publisher: Knopf, 336 pages
ALLEGRA (Ally to her friends and family) Katz has been playing the piano since she was four. She’s now 13 and belongs to a pre-college music programme at the Juilliard Music School. Her dad is a violinist with a famous quartet, and her mother trained in opera and now sings the blues in jazz bars in Manhattan’s Alphabet City.
Ally’s life revolves around music. She has to practice six hours a day and spends practically the whole of every Saturday at Juilliard, attending various music workshops and classes – theory, chamber, composition, solfege, master class, and her piano lesson proper with the relentlessly demanding and unsympathetic Miss Pringle.
“It felt like the world was passing me by,” says Ally when she can’t make it to her best friend, Opal’s art exhibition. Slumber parties, just hanging out eating hotdogs or watching movies, dating, all the things that most teenagers take for granted have to take a back seat to her music career, or rather making sure that she has music career to look forward to – “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” “Practice.”
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