Senior Spotlights: Graydon Tope

Graydon Tope ’14 has her mother to thank for her 15-year-long violin career.

“My mom took me to a music class when I was around two, and the people in the class played various instruments. My mom told me to pick one, and that happened to be the violin.”

Tope was accompanied by Christopher Walter, Instructor in Music and one of Tope’s mentors at Andover, on the piano.

“Mr. Walter has always been there to talk to when I was going through harder times. He is honestly such a calming force of nature,” said Tope.

Tope began with “Sonata for Violin and Piano in D Major,” by Jean-Marie LeClaire. The piece was played within sections of smaller movements, displaying Tope’s advanced technique. Tope’s repertoire ranged from sweeter tones with crisp vibrato to faster motions and double stops.

“My teacher, Ms. Jody Hagen, actually suggested that I play this piece, and once I heard it, I immediately knew I wanted to play it. It is very airy, elegant and happy. Like me!” said Tope of her first piece.

Tope continued the recital with “La Folia,” one of the oldest-remembered Western musical themes. Tope dedicated the piece to her parents, who claim “La Folia” is one of their favorite pieces.

Standing tall, Tope began her first few notes with a warm vibrato at a slow tempo. The piece then evolved into a contrast between shorter staccato passages and fiery legato sections gave character to the piece. Tope’s “La Folia” ended with a scales and grace-note filled variation of the beginning tune. As the piece concluded, Walter provided a steady beat and sometimes even played the melody.

The highlight of the concert was the crowd-pleasing showpiece “Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso” by Camille Saint-Saens. Deliberate and pensive at first, the piece segued into energetic passages filled with deeper tones on the lower register G string. Despite the piece’s free-spirited sound, the piece required rhythmic and syncopated discipline and advanced arpeggio skills.

“I have only had Graydon this year, but she is so incredibly talented and has developed so much since the first time I started to teach her. This piece is like her graduating school piece. I will really miss her,” said Jody Hagen, Adjunct Instructor in Music and Tope’s violin teacher.

Tope’s final piece was played with her sister, Parker Tope ’16.

“This duet was probably my favorite piece of the program, mostly because I got to play it with my best friend. The chord also ends major instead of minor which I like,” said Tope.

The sister duo interchanged between faster scales and chords and alternated back and forth between who played the melody. While Graydon started with a few chords, Parker finished off the phrase scales.

“It was so wonderful to work with [Graydon]. She is such a poised and experienced performer. The family duo was great and she played beautifully,” said Walter.

Despite Tope’s love for music, she does not plan to focus on it in college.

“I know music has been such a big part of my life for the past 15 years, but I am not going to major in it. I will definitely do private and chamber lessons. I will probably end of being like Sherlock Holmes, playing the violin when I want to think,” said Tope.