LDS prodigy: Invitation extended to play at Carnegie Hall

Five hours of practice every day starts at 5:30 a.m.


Most 12 year olds like to sleep in, text message and go shopping; but not Aubree Oliverson. She spends her time preparing to perform at Carnegie Hall on March 6.

Aubree, a Young Women Beehive class member from Orem, Utah, recently placed first in the American Protégé International Strings competition, a prize that is taking her all the way to the big stage of Carnegie Hall in New York City.

An honor that most accomplished musicians only dream of, Aubree is achieving before becoming a teenager in June.

“I’ve always wanted to go to New York, so I’m not even really nervous,” Aubree said. “I play my piece from memory, so I will just get up there and play.”

Aubree will perform the piece she won first place with: “Praeludium and Allegro” composed by Fritz Kreisler.

Aubree has been immersed in music more than half her life. She began with piano and then started taking violin lessons at age 6, and hasn’t looked back since. She loves the instrument so much she gets up at 5:30 every morning to practice the violin before going to school.

“We noticed right when she started to take lessons that she had a natural knack for it,” said Jill Oliverson, her mother. “It came so naturally that we knew we wanted to encourage her talent.”

Aubree studies under the direction of Eugene Wanatabe and Debbie Moench, and hopes to study at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia or Juilliard someday.

Music is a key chord that brings the entire Oliverson family together.

In addition to Aubree, both her siblings, Andrew, 9, and Lily, 6, play the violin.

When Aubree is invited to perform at school assemblies or events, all three children perform and enjoy making music together.

No one is left out of the making of music at their house. From performing, practicing, composing, to making the many drives to Salt Lake City for lessons, everyone is involved.

Not only a performer, Aubree is also an accomplished composer.

When Aubree and her father, Stephen, write music together and finish a song, they will often enlist Andrew’s help, said Sister Oliverson.

Aubree Oliverson participates in a school assembly.
Aubree Oliverson participates in a school assembly. Credit: Photo courtesy Steve Oliverson

“They’ll sit him down and say, ‘See if you can come up with a good name for this piece,’ ” Sister Oliverson said. “And he does the job; he has named many of their songs.”

Brother Oliverson remembered the first song Aubree wrote, a Christmas song, she started humming when decorating the Christmas tree years ago.

“At age 5 she wrote a verse, and now it has three verses,” Brother Oliverson said. “When they perform it, each child sings one.”

In addition to her four hours of practice every day, Aubree composes and performs regularly with her father.

They form the duo “Moonlight Performers,” a violinist and pianist, and have composed music for and released two CDs.

In 2010 they put on more than 100 performances and have performed at venues such as the Sundance Film Festival, Temple Square, BYU Education Week and on several small tours through parts of the United States.

Aubree Oliverson performs with the Utah Symphony in 2009. She will play at Carnegie Hall on March 6.
Aubree Oliverson performs with the Utah Symphony in 2009. She will play at Carnegie Hall on March 6. Credit: Photo courtesy Steve Oliverson

Aubree is enjoying being in Young Women, and is working on the Faith value of the Personal Progress goals. She hopes to use her music as a Personal Progress project and sees her musical gift as a way to share the gospel.

“I feel like it is good missionary work when people hear the music that we write and have to share; it is like I’m sharing my testimony,” she said.

Aubree is becoming recognized for her musical compositions. The New York Arts Ensemble has recognized her in 2010 and 2011 as ‘a composer of great promise.’

While on their upcoming trip to the East Coast, Aubree and her dad plan to play at a small fireside at the Washington D.C. Temple Visitors Center on March 7.

In addition to her music, Aubree enjoys swimming, skiing, gymnastics and spending time with friends.

“If I am ever going to do something with friends, I have to plan it really far ahead of time,” Aubree said. “And only if I have my practicing done early.”

She is grateful for the example and hard work that her parents put into her music. “My dad has inspired me and both my parents really push me to excel,” she said.

Aubree amazes her parents with her ability to discipline herself and get her practicing done every day.

Brother Oliverson knows that the Spirit is felt by all those who hear Aubree play. He spoke of a time when they toured in Washington State when a gentleman of a different faith came up to them after a performance to ask questions.

“He said, ‘I know that your music came from God; now tell me about you guys,’ ” Brother Oliverson said. “Many times our music has been a good jumping-off point to discussions about the gospel, and telling them about the Church.”

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