“I didn’t actually know what the show was, really,” said Meekyoung Lee, the Long Center’s Education and Outreach Coordinator. At the age of 18 she was chosen to perform on “From the Top” as a high schooler from Michigan — a very big deal. In addition to its host, concert pianist Christopher O’Riley, “From the Top” is famous for “celebrating the power of music in the hands of America’s kids.” Most people know it as the radio show that causes them to sit in their driveway for an extra ten minutes before turning the car off, but to those who have been a part of the program, this statement gets to the core of what’s special about “From the Top”. In addition to the performances, the program brings with it an assortment of grants, mentorship opportunities, as well as educational programs and resources for the selected students.
Even though shew as performing in front of a studio audience for the live broadcast, it was the interview component that made Meekyoung the most nervous. “Performing was second nature to me at that point. It wasn’t until they asked me to talk about my reason for playing that I got scared. But just putting into words why I’m doing what I’m doing ended up being the part that made the most impact on me,” she said.
Another highlight was the chance to meet host Christopher O’Riley, she said. With his unusual proficiency in both Rachmaninoff and Radiohead, O’Riley allows kids with professional talents to just be kids onstage. “I don’t think kids have a lot of opportunities to be introspective with adults.” According to Meekyoung, “It’s that combination of inward thinking and community outreach that makes this show so successful and entertaining.”
Meekyoung herself received a grant as a result of her “From the Top” application, and it was the grant money that made it possible for her to purchase the instrument she still plays — a Brannen Brothers 1585 flute.
Presented in partnership with
Support the talents of these young musicians as they appear for a special live taping of From the Top, this weekend. Performers include two Austin locals!