Isabella Abbott | Features Editor
Practicing an instrument for hours upon end in an enclosed room alone does not seem like the typical college student dream, but for some Duquesne students, those hours lead to the start of their careers.
Three Mary Pappert School of Music students and alumni recently won violinist positions in the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra.
After an intense two-round audition process, Danielle Barbosa, Anne Victoria Nasevich and Richard Palermo were selected as the newest members of the West Virginia symphony.
Two artist diploma students, Mariya Krastanova and Camila Zanetti, were also finalists in the process.
Barbosa, a violinist in the master of music in performance program, has been playing violin for 14 years. She said she loves to play and connect with others.
“Music taught me something divine from God, and I feel that connection, which is something bigger than us,” Barbosa said. “And also sharing my talents with the community because music for me is very powerful in different ways.”
Barbosa decided to come to Duquesne from Brazil after her friend told her about his experiences at the university and convinced her to do the same. She earned her bachelor’s degree in violin from the University of São Paulo in 2020.
For Barbosa, the biggest change from studying in Brazil to studying in the U.S. was the fast-paced environment.
“I think here we need to learn faster, so that was a bit challenging at the beginning,” Barbosa said. “Because in a short time, you need to be ready for everything, and that demands time and effort.”
Although she has played for many other orchestras in Brazil and the U.S., including the Youngstown Symphony, Washington Symphony and Orquestra Experimental de Repertório, she’s excited to play with the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra.
“I’m very glad to be a part of this work,” Barbosa said. “I feel a big responsibility being contract hired, so I need to give my best.”
Another student who will soon be playing for the orchestra, Anne Victoria Nasevich, has been a violinist for 12 years. She decided to audition for the orchestra after her professors said she’d be a good fit. Nasevich waited on audition day for results for hours and ultimately found out that she got in.
“It was a great experience for me, and obviously, it’s not the end of the road, it’s just one more step in my future,” Nasevich said. “I’m excited to start something new with the Wheeling Symphony, and I can’t wait to grow because I will always be growing as a musician”
Her favorite part about playing the violin is that she’s not just playing for herself but for the audience around her.
“It’s important to keep in mind that we’re not playing music for ourselves, it’s kind of for other people so that they can feel something with the music,” Nasevich said. “It’s good to have that cooperation with other people and always being positive about the experience.”
Her advice for anyone looking to play the violin is to keep practicing and learning.
“I would say don’t be discouraged when you’re criticized because criticism is what makes you grow as a musician, even if it’s not something you necessarily hear,” Nasevich said. “And just keep practicing and improving because you can have all the teachers you want in the world, but it’s really you that is your best teacher.”
One other student who will be playing for the orchestra, Richard Palermo, decided to come to Duquesne after taking private lessons in high school from Professor Charles Stegman, with whom he wanted to continue studying. He said the teachers “are always striving for the next thing and encouraging the students to get better.”
Palermo graduated from Duquesne in 2021 with a bachelor of music in performance and has been playing violin for roughly 16 years. His favorite part about the program is the community it offers.
“What I really enjoyed about Duquesne was the community, the musicians, everyone was closely knit,” Palermo said. “I felt that at the Mary Pappert School of Music, I saw familiar faces every single day, and I knew the majority of the students.”
Palermo is a member of some other Pittsburgh area orchestras as well, including the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra, the York Symphony Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Opera Orchestra and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. His goal as a kid was to be in a “professional orchestra playing music with great musicians.”
Palermo, Barbosa and Nasevich will play in the Violins of Hope concert on Oct. 19. They are all contracted members for the 2023-2024 season.
According to the Violins of Hope website, the musicians play on a collection of violins, violas and cellos all collected since the end of World War II. The concerts are not only a memorial to lost culture and people but an educational act that reaches young students and adults wherever the performances occur.