My violin's name is Philip. He's not as expensive or as strong-sounding as the other violins in my ensemble, but he's the only one with a name. I named him after Philip Nolan, the character in Edward Everett Hale's The Man Without a Country, a book that epitomizes my feelings about patriotism and love of country, a feeling that is second only to my love of God and music.
I have broken many hairs on my bow (whose name is Joseph) from playing too intensely on my violin. It's pretty easy to make classical music sound ugly and angry, and although it's not intended to sound that way, the good thing about bad music (and the bad thing about good music) is that it doesn't last for very long, and you don't remember it for very long afterward.
Music is the most ephemeral art. No piece of music is ever played the same way twice, and as soon as a sound, a note or a feeling has been produced, it is gone, no matter how valiantly I try to recapture it. Such is my desperation to hold onto Elgar's "Nimrod" from the Enigma Variations, played Feb. 26, 2000, in an All-State Orchestra rehearsal. That was the moment when I discovered music, or rather, discovered myself, the orchestra, my violin, my passion and my purpose in life. Under the baton of a brilliant conductor, who knew music's secret which had yet to reveal itself to us, the entire orchestra was swept away with this short but beautiful piece of music, which nobody had practiced beforehand because it looked too easy. The first time we ever played it as an orchestra was the most magical, and though all the violinists and cellists begged the conductor to spend more rehearsal time on it, "Nimrod" was never the same as when it had crept up on us, unknowing, and astounded us with its profoundness and simplicity.
That was before Philip, when the violin under my chin was a much larger and rougher one named Dante (a token to my infatuation with The Divine Comedy). Since Philip's christening a year ago, we have had many more ephemeral moments of timelessness. I have also discovered another instrument whose music awes even more -- my voice. I have not yet named my voice, but maybe I should. It would have to be some thick, easy name to complement my untrained alto voice, like Dean or Richard. (A male name of course, because I like men.) Or maybe a tribute to my love of history and my historical heroes. Yes, Alexander Hamilton sounds perfect.
Here are a few examples of admission essays written by Hamilton's newest students.
New Canaan, Conn.
Alice Dou Wang
West Chester, Pa.