Local violinist hitting high notes

Wednesday, August 7, 2013 - 19:00
Teen performs on international stages
Eagle River’s Brendon Mazzetti, left, poses with conductor Valery Gergiev, who conducted the National Youth Orchestra of the USA during its recent tour. The orchestra’s tour schedule included performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory in Russia and the Marinsky II in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Brendon Mezzetti’s violin is the Eagle River teen’s ticket around the world.

Mezzetti, 18, recently returned home from a world tour with the National Youth Orchestra of the USA, a collection of 120 of the nation’s top young classical musicians assembled by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institue in New York.

Just being selected for the prestigious orchestra was a thrill, said Mezzetti, the only performer from Alaska.

“I was like, ‘Whoa,’” he said. “It was really exciting.”

The orchestra first traveled to New York, where they underwent two weeks of practice before playing their first concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

“It was just wonderful,” Mezzetti said.

From there the orchestra traveled to Russia, where they played sold-out shows in Moscow and St. Petersburg before finishing the tour at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

Mezzetti, a classically-trained violinst who plays several instruments, was selected to play a special banjo solo during the encore at the group’s London performance. Following his solo, conductor Valery Gergiev called Mezzetti to the front of the orchestra for special recognition by the crowd.

“That was really cool,” Mezzetti said.

While playing with the NYO, Mezzetti also worked with Joshua Bell, one of the most famous violinists in the world. Getting to learn from a talent like Bell was a highlight of the experience, Mezzetti said.

“It was really inspiring musically,” he said.

Playing alongside some of the best young performers in the country was also a big thrill, he said.

“There were really some top notch musicians there,” he said.

Mezzetti began playing violin when he was 9-years-old. From an early age, he said he had lofty goals with the instrument.

“The first time I really decided I wanted to do music and be the best violinist in the world was when I saw Itzhak Perlman play when I was 12,” he said.

Since then he’s grown into a rising star on the Anchorage classical music scene, with several prestigious awards under his belt. He’s sat in with the Anchorage Symphony as a substitute violinist, plays organ at St. Andrew Catholic Church and has served as musical director for several theatrical productions.

Eagle River’s Kevin Barnett is a professional composer and piano player who has worked with numerous national acts over the years. Barnett has known Mezzetti for several years, and said the teen has the talent to pursue music full time.

“He’s definitely got the passion and the heart to make a career of it,” Barnett said.

Barnett said Mezzetti is naturally gifted, but it’s work ethic that sets him apart from many other young musicians.

“Usually what you don’t see is that spirit or fire to work really hard at it,” Barnett said.

Mezzetti’s currently training with violin instructor Beverly Beheim, director of the Anchorage Fine Arts Society. Beheim said her biggest challenge with Mezzetti has been coming up with new musical challenges for him to conquer.

“You just have to keep somebody like that moving ahead,” she said.

Beheim agreed with Barnett that Mezzetti’s work ethic is second to none. She said that when Brendon is trying to learn a new piece, he works tirelessly to perfect it.

“He works very hard, because when he wants to get something — a certain sound, a certain vibrato, a certain trill — he wants id desperately,” Beheim said. “And he’s not willing to wait.”

Beheim said she has no trouble keeping Mezzetti focused on music. Instead, he arrives at lessons prepared to go to work, she said.

“Every week he comes in and says, ‘What’s next?’” she said.

And while Beheim predicted Mezzetti has a musical future ahead, she doesn’t think he’ll let success go to his head.

“He’s one person that I think will always keep his personality,” she said.

Mezzetti is homeschooled and is about to begin his senior year of high school. In addition to music, he said he also enjoys the outdoors and is an avid skier. He’ll soon be auditioning for a full-time gig with the Anchorage Symphony as a violist, and after graduation he plans to continue working toward a professional career. He’s just not sure if he wants to be a composer, performer, director — or perhaps all of the above.

“I’m pretty sure I’m going to end up doing something with music,” he said.

Beheim said Mezzetti has been an easy student to work with, and she believes the sky’s the limit for the globe-trotting musician.

“He’s bright, he’s kind and he’s an extreme talent.”

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