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Alumni Profile: Macie Stewart

A versatile violinist, pianist and singer, Macie Stewart is a musician constantly on the move. Appearing one day at the Drake's Palm Court with a string quartet and the next at Chief ONeill's with her Irish group, the graduateĀ of Whitney Young High School also recorded an album with her hip-hop jazz soul fusion band, Kids These Days. Macie, an active composer, recently spent a large portion of her summer at the Midwest Young Artists Chamber Music Workshop. A student at the Community Music Division for eight years, Macie studied piano with Regina Syrkin and violin with Corina Lobont. She has also played with the band, Marrow and as part of the female duo, Homme.

Q. Why did you start playing music?

My mom thought it would be a good idea for me to start music because she is a musician herself and had a great experience playing. She started me on piano at four years old, and I really enjoyed it. When I started kindergarten, I was introduced to the violin via Music House, which was a program that came to my school every week to teach music to kids. I really loved the violin so I asked my mom if I could start.

Q. What do you find unique about piano and violin?

Piano and violin are very different from each other. Violin is a string instrument, and piano is a percussive instrument. It's hard to make piano expressive because you don't have bow strokes or vibrato to change up the sound. However, on piano, you don't have to worry as much about intonation as you do on the violin. When you play violin, you can be horrendously out of tune. Violin and piano are two completely different and beautiful instruments, and I'm glad I play both of them.

Q. If you had to pick either piano or violin, which would you choose?

People ask me this all the time. I really like them both equally. I like the classical repertoire for piano better, but I really enjoy the different styles you can play on the violin.

Q. How did you become interested in performing so many different types of music?

I started off by playing classical music, and I've really learned to love it. When I was about 12 years old, my mother decided to immerse me in different styles such as Irish, classical and jazz. I was reluctant at first, but I am so glad I started because now I can't get enough of it. After that, I started finding styles on my own, such as blues, soul and hip-hop, which my band is heavily influenced by.

Q. What's it like to play with your mom?

I really enjoy it. When I play music with my mom I get a feeling of what it's like to make a living as a musician. I think we work really well together, and she really knows how to help me out with improvisation and the overall feel of a jazz tune. It's an awesome experience.

Q. Do you also perform with your sister Delaney?

I've played a couple piano duets with my sister. I've tried to teach her jazz chords so I can play violin with her. Hopefully we'll play together soon because she is getting really good at piano.

Q. What do you hope to do with music one day?

I would like to double major in music and medicine (if that's possible), and I would like to continue doing chamber music. This summer I went to a camp that specialized in chamber music, and it was an amazing experience. There's an extensive repertoire of chamber music available for violin and piano.

Q. How did you start writing music?

I don't compose classical pieces. Nowadays I try to write music for my band or just for myself. When I was about 12 years old my mom told me I should start writing music to see if I could do it. I wrote my first real song on guitar when I was 14, and I've been doing it ever since.

Q. Do you have a favorite piece or composer?

My favorite composer is Mendelssohn because he writes a lot of beautiful and passionate pieces, especially chamber pieces. I was first introduced to him when I played a movement of the Mendelssohn Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25. It was and still is my favorite piece. At my chamber camp we played a piano trio by Mendelssohn, and it was so breathtaking.

Q. How would you describe your experience at the CMD?

It has been very nice. I used to be in the orchestra and that opened up my eyes to the many orchestral pieces there are out there. The teachers are all very experienced and have helped me so much. I've learned a lot here.