Senior Spotlight: Isabel Bolo

“Playing the viola has been a constant throughout my life, yet I continue to be surprised by the way it mirrors my life outside of music,” said Isabel Bolo ’14. Born and raised in New Jersey, Bolo devoted the majority of her adolescence to playing the violin before picking up the viola at the age of 12. Alongside weekly private lessons and orchestra rehearsals, Bolo also attends chamber music camps and festivals in the summer and takes lessons at the New England Conservatory Preparatory School on Saturdays/ “The most time-consuming aspect of learning a string instrument is the individual daily practicing; it is what separates serious musicians. Back in New Jersey, I had to give up any serious pursuit of soccer because it conflicted too much with my music schedule,” said Bolo. Despite the sacrifices she had to make to continue the study and performance of the viola, Bolo continues to be passionate about musical performance. On campus, she participates in the Chamber and Academy Orchestras, as well as Andover-Lawrence Strings, a community-service program, in which she teaches violin to two girls who attend Lawrence Middle School. During Bolo’s Senior Recital last Saturday night, she performed alongside pianist Tao Kim, a professional accompanist from Boston, in a performance that concluded her musical career at Andover. She played an array of five different pieces, which showcased varied styles and forms of classical music. “I was quite terrified in the weeks prior to my recital. I only began playing viola again two and a half weeks ago after a month-long hiatus due to a sprained thumb!” said Bolo. Bolo opened the show with “Praeludium and Allegro,” by Fritz Kreisler, which began with sharp, strong notes on the viola that jumped in rapid succession from high to low. As the gaps between the notes decreased, the viola began to linger on higher notes with rich vibrato, adding sustenance. The swiftly changing rhythms, speeds and sentiments kept the audience entranced. The consistent chords of the piano that played in the background added either harmony or dissonance, depending on the mood the rapidly shifting piece was taking on. Next, Bolo played “Le Cygne,” or “The Swan,” by Camille Saínt-Saëns from “The Carnival of the Animals,” a musical suite that imitates different animals through various musical instruments. The simple, flowing melody played by the viola contrasted with the quicker piano notes that climbed up and down in repeating triads. The delicate, climbing melody conjured the image of a serene swan floating down a river. After the intermission, Bolo performed her favorite of the pieces, “Cello Suite No.2 in D Minor,” by Johann Sebastian Bach. This piece was split up into three parts: “Prelude,” “Sarabande” and “Gigue.” Bolo said that “Prelude” is her favorite, consisting of a series of viola notes that alternated between slowing down and speeding up, creating a beautiful sense of inflation and deflation. “‘Prelude’ to the second Bach cello suite is the most special to me: the music conveys a human life in beauty and in sadness. I find it difficult to put into words the emotions that come over me when I play or listen to it,” said Bolo. Bolo closed the concert with “Konzertstück for Víola and Píano” by George Enescu. The piece tied together many different aspects that had been previously used in her performance, including crescendos, decrescendos, changes in speed and rhythm, scales, jumping and the same element of surprise that kept the audience engaged throughout the whole performance. “I generally refer to myself as a ‘closet player,’ meaning that I prefer to play for myself only. However, despite the plentiful intonation and technique errors throughout the entire performance, I felt elated from the music,” said Bolo. “When I play the viola, I can be in my own world effortlessly. It does not require effort to block out other people. I can reflect, I can rage, I can marvel. The viola draws out of me the emotions that would often rather stay hidden.”