Risser reflects on musical experiences

Senior Jillian Risser, concertmaster of the PHS orchestra has played violin for almost nine years.
“I started [playing violin] when I was in fourth grade. I cannot remember exactly why I started [playing violin]. My cousin played the violin, my sister played the cello and I think my grandma played the violin too, so strings made sense. I played the piano for four years and that helped a lot with the violin,” Risser said.
Risser’s responsibilities as concertmaster of the school orchestra, are mainly setting a good example and being available to answer questions.
“In a normal orchestra, [the concertmaster] would have more responsibility but since it is just a school [orchestra], the teacher has more authority and I do not have too much to do. I would say [my job is] mostly just setting the example because I am the leader and people, in theory, are supposed to follow me. I get to lead the orchestra when [Mr. Giltner] is gone sometimes,” Risser said.
Risser recently played a piece that she considers to be the most memorable piece she has ever played.
“[The piece] was Mozart and it was really hard and classic. I feel like I pushed myself and I was able to really play at a high level more than I had before, which felt really good,” Risser said.
Risser had the chance to travel with the school orchestra to play in Disneyland in April 2014.
“[Going to Disneyland with the orchestra] was fantastic. Where we performed, there were all these characters there, so no one was really watching us but it was still fun and it was a good experience,” Risser said.
Outside of the opportunities she has had through school orchestra, Risser has also had experiences playing in church.
“I have played at church a few times but, not much because that is harder to do because you do not have music to go off of. [Playing violin in church] is not necessarily my strength but it is still fun,” Risser said.
In February, Risser participated in the All-State Symphony Orchestra, an audition-only honor group that selected the top musicians in Washington state to come to Spokane and be under the direction of the former music director of the Seattle Symphony, Gerard Schwarz.
“All-State was a lot of playing and it stretched me. It was cool to learn from Gerard Schwarz, the conductor, he was really nice. I had to learn music really fast and I realized how much I had to learn. Usually [I practice only] two days a week but after All-State, I realized I need to practice more and I aspire to do better,” Risser said.
Although Risser’s post-high school life may not contain as much music as it has previously, she hopes to continue to keep her violin playing a part of her life.
“Ironically, the school I am looking at, Northwest University, does not even have an orchestra. I want to be an elementary teacher, not elementary music, just a teacher. I am planning on looking [for ways to keep playing violin at Northwest University],” Risser said. “They have worship bands [at Northwest University] too, so I could maybe play violin for that. If there are other string players who happen to go [to Northwest University], we might put together an extra little group.”
Risser considers an experience she had playing with Mars Hill Church in Seattle to be one of her most memorable violin-related experiences.
“Another memorable experience was when I played [violin] with the church Mars Hill. We played at Benaroya Hall because [Mars Hill Church] had a joint service with all of their campuses for Easter. It was not a full orchestra but they had some of the Seattle Symphony people playing with us—that [experience] was amazing,” Risser said.