Watching an older brother do something can be enormously inspirational, and for Matthew Burg, a senior at WAHS, watching his brother learn to play an instrument was influential in his decision to join the Round Hills Elementary third grade orchestra.
Wanting to follow along the same path as his sibling, Burg plays the piano and the Kalimba, but his real passion is the double bass.
Speaking fondly of the instrument, Burg refers to the bass as his best friend, saying, "I have grown up with it, played with it, taken it on trips with me - it's the real life best friend that I never had, except it's a piece of wood with strings attached to it."
Above is Matthew Berg with his double bass.
This summer, Burg will have the extraordinary opportunity to travel with the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America to places like Moscow, St. Petersburg and London.
Burg was one of the 120 teenagers chosen from across the country to participate in this program under the auspice of Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute.
The group will be led by the remarkable maestro Valery Gergiev and have the pleasure of performing with violinist Joshua Bell.
"It is so important to me because it is such an honor and privilege to represent my country," Burg said about his biggest musical achievement to date, "I am so blessed to have been given this opportunity, and so relieved that my hard work has paid off."
However, Burg is even more appreciative of his private teacher, James VanDemark, a professor of double bass at the Eastman School of Music.
Having first started taking lessons with VanDemark in June 2011, Burg's abilities on double bass have drastically improved due to increased practice time and a greater appreciation for music.
"James VanDemark is an incredibly intelligent and kind human being," Burg said about his instructor. "I am honored to have him as a private teacher."
Although unsure of where he will be attending college this fall, Burg has auditioned at the Eastman School of Music, New England Conservatory, Peabody Institute and the Manhattan School of Music in the hopes of pursuing a bachelor's degree in music in double bass performance.
To anyone who is interested in learning an instrument, Burg says, "I know many kids my age and many adults who wish they could have learned to play an instrument when they were younger, but anyone can learn an instrument at any age.
Don't be afraid to go out to your local professional musicians and ask for a lesson or two, and just have fun!"