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"Each time I have the opportunity to perform, whether for an audience of fourth graders or scholarship benefactors, I hope to engage listeners so that they may leave affected."
Ann Lam has been "nursing a relationship with the violin" since the age of five. This hobby continued to develop as Ann grew up, and so did her aspirations. By middle school, she "knew" she wanted to attend law school and eventually become a Supreme Court Justice. Her high school achievements all pointed in that direction, and her parents encouraged her to follow that path rather than focus on the violin, which had by now become a passion.
The University of Maryland offered Ann a full scholarship, and she spent two years exploring possible pre-law majors. She still loved the violin, but questioned her abilities. "Eventually," she says, "the indecision became unbearable." She was not a prodigy, but she knew her potential had yet to be reached. Various teachers encouraged her. Another question-how could she make a positive impact on society?-turned out to be the decision-maker.
Ann's string quartet, the Choo Choo Quartet, was involved in the University's Chamber Music Connections Program, giving performances at elementary schools and showing children how music relates to their everyday lives. She describes the scene: "I saw from the smiles and rapt attention how much the kids learned and enjoyed seeing us play. We received thank you e-mails from our students; they remembered our names, greeted us like kings, and begged for hugs before we left. After that first year, many of our kids enrolled in the strings program at their school. That truly touched me, and I realized that I was already making a real difference. It was music all the way." Ann's quartet earned the Excellence in Arts Education Programming Award in 2002.
While Ann had doubts about her abilities, it's clear that others didn't. Among the many awards she has earned are the Clifford Bernson Performing Arts Scholarship, which is awarded to only one student by the School of Music faculty. And she won it twice. Her scholarship is also equal to the task: she received the College of Arts and Humanities Senior Scholar Award, the highest honor for students who have distinguished themselves throughout their course of study.
In addition to performing, Ann wants to expand her teaching to students of all levels, but especially beginners and high school/college students aiming for a professional career. She is also committed to bringing classical music to people whose economical situations would not otherwise allow them access. Finally, she hopes to help develop resources for, and coordinate the efforts of, such organizations as the Chamber Music Connections Program.
Alissa Jones Nelson
University of St. Andrews
University of Alaska Fairbanks
National University of Ireland