After trying out in front of a panel of judges in October, Crestwood High School sophomore Erik Thomas was selected to take part in the 2014-2015 NEPA Philharmonic Mentoring Program.
The goal of the mentoring program is to provide area music students with the unique opportunity of performing side-by-side with the NEPA Philharmonic. The culminating event of the program was to perform Aragonaise from Bizet’s Carmen Suite No. 1 and Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture with the NEPA Philharmonic during their Young People’s Concerts on May 6th and May 7th.
His main mentor was Erica Kiesewetter, who has been the concertmaster of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic since 1992, and has appeared frequently as a soloist. Additionally Ms. Kiesewetter is the concertmaster of the American Symphony Orchestra, Stamford Symphony, Northeastern Pa. Philharmonic Opera Orchestra of N. Y., and the Long Island Philharmonic, and also appears frequently as a soloist with these groups. Ms. Kiesewetter is also a Visiting Associate Professor at Bard College, where she is the director of orchestral studies at the Bard Conservatory and maintains a violin studio in the College.
In addition to instruction from Ms. Kiesewetter, Erik also received one-on-one instruction from accomplished violinists and performers with the Philharmonic Robert Zubrycki, Debbie Wong, and Gabriel Schaff.
Preparing for these performances, in addition to his individual lessons with the mentors, Erik also attended two sectionals with Assistant Conductor Michelle Merrill. She was recently appointed assistant conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, so it was an excellent and rare opportunity to work with Maestra Merrill. Erik also participated in a Master Class with Concertmaster Erica Kiesewetter in front of an audience of approximately 25 people.
Erik started playing the violin in Kindergarten at an introductory course at a YMCA while they were living in Massachusetts. His interest continued, so he switched to private lessons with David Rubenstein. Once relocating to PA, he continued his studies at the Suzuki School for Strings with Joanna Basta. While living overseas, he studied at the Musikschule Badische Bergstrasse in Weinheim under the direction of Gabi Ringhof, where he also had the opportunity to play with a local German orchestra. After returning stateside, he has continued his lessons with the Suzuki School for Strings –initially with Rachel Galassi and currently with Jule Supplee.
Erik is the son of Mark and Mary Thomas, of Mountain Top.