That's Noah, bottom right, playing first chair in the two-viola section of the 'mini-orchestra' at the Suzuki Valhalla Institute. They're working on a few movements from the Warlock Capriol Suite, a fantastic challenging work for an orchestra of this level. For most of his viola career, Noah has been able to ride on the coat-tails of his elder, more experienced buddy P. But P. is doing quartet as his ensemble this week, leaving Noah in a leadership position in the senior orchestra.
He knows his part -- his sight-reading has improved dramatically in recent months. And he plays with confidence and most especially musicality. He got the detached brush stroke intuitively. Over and over again the director was heard to say "listen to the violas -- they've got the touch! The violas have it -- the touch." He felt pretty good about that, I could tell, though he probably wouldn't admit it.
He's brilliantly placed in his classes this year. In viola master class and viola repertory class he's not quite the least advanced student in a group of pre-teen and teen boys, wonderful kids, all of them very likeable. Super role-models, all fairly close in playing level, the oldest ones just the right amount more advanced than he. They're playing four-part and two-part viola pieces together, revelling in their chocolatey viola sound. In orchestra he's confident and a leader. And in the Exploring Musical Styles (jazz/fiddling/improv) class, he's in with his older sister and several of his friends and managed to survive some improv, which he was dreading, and emerged in good humour.