Inglemoor High School student prepares for solo performance at Benaroya Hall

Eric will perform a solo concert at Benaroya Hall on Sunday, Nov. 21. Courtesy photo

By Hannah Saunders

Sixteen-year-old Eric Schindler first picked up the cello 12 years ago and has been playing ever since. After winning a Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra (SYSO) concerto competition during the 2020-2021 school year, he was asked to perform a solo concert at Benaroya Hall in Seattle on Sunday, Nov. 21.

In addition to winning the SYSO concerto competition, Eric was the grand winner of the National League of Performing Arts’ 2021 International Young Artists competition and won the Performing Arts Festival of the Eastside’s concerto competition. He has also served as principal cello on the Washington All-State Symphony Orchestra and has participated in the All-Northwest Orchestra.

“The cello spoke to me because it felt right,” Eric said. “When I walked up to it for the first time when I was a very little 4 year old, I really liked how you hug it while you play.”

The Inglemoor High School student comes from a family of musicians. His parents play the violin, while his grandparents also play the cello. Eric first became involved with SYSO three years ago when he tried out and made the junior orchestra. SYSO is one of the most extensive youth orchestra training programs in the country.

“That was a very great experience,” Eric said. “I learned so much in that orchestra and I’ve been playing with it ever since, even during quarantine over Zoom.”

Eric has studied chamber music with the third chair of the Seattle Symphony, violist Mara Gearman; violinist Simon James, and violist Joseph Gottesman. He’s also learned from Kevin Krentz, who has been teaching cello for more than 20 years and holds a Doctorate in Cello Performance. It was Krentz who first mentioned the opportunity to perform with SYSO.

“I’ve had three private teachers so far, and each of them has built up a part of the cello that is me now,” Eric said. “My first cello teacher excelled at teaching me the instrument. The teacher I have now is Dr. Kevin Krentz. I really like him.”

Eric faced a major challenge leading up to his solo performance with SYSO. Five months ago, he dislocated his right shoulder (the arm in which he holds his bow) and spent two weeks recovering and could not play the cello.

“Two weeks ago, I re-dislocated it during school and that was the day before my first practice for my solo performance with the orchestra,” Eric said.

The recovery period from that injury only lasted four days and Eric was right back it readying for his concert preparation. He practices four hours per day, which can be difficult on school days.

“It definitely takes a lot of energy to practice for that long, but I do take a lot of breaks,” Eric said. “Doing it for 12 years, for that long of a time, it kind of commits over time.”

Performing with his peer group and winning the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra concerto competition was gratifying for Eric. It’ll be an exhilarating experience taking center stage at the home of the Seattle Symphony.

“I’m getting nervous, you know, but practicing hard for the performance,” Eric said. “It’s an exciting moment because I’ve never played with an orchestra accompanying me before. It’s also the first time I’ll be soloing in Benaroya Hall.”

One musician that inspires Eric is cellist Yo-Yo Ma. But when he isn’t listening to his favorite classical music genre, Eric enjoys listening to rock music, specifically Guns N’ Roses. He also plays the bass guitar in the jazz band at Inglemoor High School.

As for his future?

“I see myself being a soloist, hopefully touring the world,” Eric said. “I also see myself being in a professional symphony orchestra and also quartets. I really love quartets.”

Some advice Eric has for other young musicians is staying committed and not being afraid to try new things like different instruments, music genres, and practice techniques.

Eric’s upcoming solo performance will take place at Benaroya Hall in Seattle on Nov. 21 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $10 per person, which you can find at https://syso.org/concerts-tickets/. To check out Eric’s work, visit his Instagram account @Eric_CelloForLife

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