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Virtuoso, 7, plays Carnegie Hall

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For a musician, there aren’t many stages bigger than Carnegie Hall, and at Carnegie Hall there aren’t many musicians as diminutive as 7-year-old violinist Michelle Stern. Her solo performance of Vivaldi’s “Spring” in front of some 4,500 at Weill Recital Hall Sunday evening is impressive enough — even more so considering it was her seventh performance there.

“It was kind of exciting,” said the enthusiastic Douglaston resident during an interview Monday after school. Then through a giggle that oftentimes overwhelmed her she added, “kind of fun!”

Sunday’s performance was part of the Concert Festival International Showcase and just one of several for the young virtuoso this month. She had performed at Carnegie Hall two weeks earlier for the American Protege Showcase — a competition in which she was a first-prize winner in her age group — and will perform this Sunday at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

“March is one of the busiest months,” explained her mother, Anna Heifetz, a violinist herself and music teacher who graduated from Juilliard and New York University.

The holidays, too, are a busy time for Michelle, as she enjoys playing concerts for community organizations like the Community Church of Douglaston, Chabad House of Manhattan Beach and the Brandywine Assisted Living Center in Little Neck, where she gave her first performance at age 5.

Heifetz, who used to have her own music school and gave free music lessons to children of low-income families, said her daughter probably developed a passion for music from hearing so much of it around her.

“It came naturally to her. She hears students playing all the time,” she said.

Lest anyone should conjure up the image of an overbearing stage mother, Michelle exhibited unrestrained enthusiasm throughout the interview, such as when she corrected her mother, who said there were 25 performers Sunday.

“It was 27. I counted,” she said with the utmost confidence.

She started playing violin when she was 4 and said she now practices every day from “1 1/2 hours to 2 hours, 15 minutes.” Ballroom dancing, math, art and creative writing round out the busy young girl’s interests, who said she likes to read chapter books and is currently reading the fourth “Harry Potter” book.

Some of her favorite things about performing on a large stage include making friends and hearing new music for the first time. She said she prefers to play happy and dramatic music and is aware of how expressive she can be through her art.

“I have a lot of feeling,” she said as she waved her arms through the air, demonstrating her conducting abilities.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Updated 10:53 am, October 12, 2011
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