Violinist makes DHS history

STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald

Durango High School sophomore and concertmaster Nolan Reed rehearses Wednesday afternoon at the school. Nolan is the son of Cindy Ryan and Ron Reed.

By Ted Holteen Herald staff writer

The last time Durango High School placed a musician in Colorado’s All-State Orchestra, Nolan Reed wasn’t old to enough to hold the violin that has made him a rising star, let alone play it.

Nolan, a 15-year-old sophomore, is one of the most accomplished musicians DHS has produced. He already is concertmaster of the Durango Symphonic Orchestra and is a member of the first violin section of the All-State Orchestra. The last and only other DHS student to make that squad was senior Lech Usinowicz, in 1999.

“Because of my dedication and love for playing music, I auditioned this year and had to wait a pretty grueling month and a half,” Nolan said. “It was kind of rough – most states take a week to let you know – but it’s pretty exciting for me, my family and Mrs. Reed.”

Nolan is not related to DHS Director of Instrumental Music Katherine Reed.

Nolan will play with the orchestra and jazz bands at Monday night’s fundraising dinner and concert. Guest conductor and soloist Arkady Fomin is like family to Nolan; he has played in the Conservatory Music in the Mountains orchestra under Fomin since he was in fifth grade and flies to Dallas once a month for private lessons with the maestro. This summer, he’ll play with the Festival Chamber Strings Orchestra during the annual Music in the Mountains festival.

The honor student also dabbles in jazz, which is rare but not unheard of – Vassar Clements, Jean-Luc Ponty and others gained immortality in the improvisational style. But he doesn’t have many peers in his age group. At this year’s jazz band competition in Greeley, Nolan was the only student to bring a violin.

“It’s a completely different flavor, and it’s another chance to play music. I like to be diverse,” Nolan said.

Fort Lewis College jazz instructor Jeff Solon is a fan and spends extra time with Nolan to advance his budding career.

“Now there’s a super-talented kid. I wrote him a super challenging solo and he just tears it up,” Solon said of Nolan’s prowess on the strings.

Reed said she doesn’t know how to predict Nolan’s future, because she’s never seen this level of talent at such a young age.

“I don’t see any limits to what he can achieve. He’s dedicated, talented and has put himself in the position to succeed,” she said.

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