Skaja featured artist at ISO concert Saturday


Oliva Picture JPEGThe Itasca Symphony Orchestra (ISO) under the direction of Keith Swanson will perform its second concert of the season on Saturday, February 15, 7:30 pm at the Reif Center in Grand Rapids.


The featured artist will be the Orchestra’s very own Olivia Skaja playing solo violin on Antonio Vivaldi’s “Winter” from The Four Seasons.  ISO conductor, Keith Swanson, identifies Olivia as among the best, if not the best, violinist her age north of the metro. Fifteen-year-old Olivia Skaja has been studying the violin for six years.  At age ten, she joined the Itasca Orchestra and Strings Program and for the last two years has held the position of Concertmaster for the Youth Chamber Orchestra.  She has been playing in the Itasca Symphony Orchestra for four years, since she was invited to join at age eleven.


In 2012, Olivia was awarded a full scholarship to Northern Lights International Music Festival (Aurora, MN) and in 2013, was accepted into Interlochen Arts Camp, where she held the position of Concertmaster for the Interlochen Philharmonic.  She has earned three consecutive (2011 – 2013) Superior ratings at the Minnesota Federation of Music Festival.  Her teachers for private violin study include Richard Dugan, Mary LaPlant and, currently, Alex DePue.

In addition to Olivia Skaja’s career as a violinist, her interests have also taken her into the land of improvisation, as a fiddler.  Her awards include first place wins in both the “Junior-Junior” and “Junior” divisions at the Minnesota State Oldtime Fiddle Championship, first place in the “Remer’s Got Talent” contest (2013) and was also deemed, “Fiddle Player of the Year” at the 29th annual Pilager Fiddle Contest (2013).


The program also includes Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70. This four movement symphony has breath taking lyrical moments, an irresistible toe-tapping Scherzo and an inspiring Finale.      


Funded in part by the Blandin Foundation, the Itasca Symphony Orchestra is part of the Itasca Orchestra and Strings Program whose mission is to provide opportunities to hear, learn and perform orchestral music for the youth and adults of Itasca County.


The concert is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.