Hochstein Alumni Portrait: Dylan Kennedy

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Hochstein Alumni Portrait: Dylan Kennedy

Dylan Kennedy is a recent alumnus of Hochstein, having graduated from the honors certificate program in piano in 2012. He began studying at Hochstein ten years ago when he was in 4th grade, playing violin in the Suzuki Book 2 group class and studying privately with Young Shin Yi and then Angel OuYang. A year later, he began taking private piano lessons, with Dr. Zarina Melik-Stepanova, Dr. Daniela Mineva, and finally Dr. Gary Palmer for 3 years. He took several music theory classes, music history classes under Ron Goodling, and played in Philharmonia under John Fetter, HYSO and VSCO under Nancy Strelau, and an honors string quartet coached by Tigran Vardanyan. He received merit scholarships in violin and piano in 5th through 12th grade. While still in Rochester, Dylan won the Albright Award at the Rochester Philharmonic League Young Artist Competition, the David Hochstein Recital Competition, and gave live performances on the radio show ‘Live from Hochstein’ on WXXI in three consecutive years. Since graduating, he has continued his relationship with Hochstein as concertmaster of the Hochstein Alumni Orchestra.

Now 20 years old, Dylan currently studies with Professor Ivan Zenaty at the Cleveland Institute of Music where he is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in violin performance with a minor in Music Theory, and minors in Economics, Business Management, and Banking and Finance from Case Western Reserve University. He previously studied with the late Distinguished Kilbourn Professor, Zvi Zeitlin, at the Eastman School of Music. 


Kennedy has appeared as soloist with the Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra, Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes, Penfield Symphony Orchestra, Hochstein Youth Symphony Orchestra, and Finger Lakes Symphony Orchestra.  A dedicated chamber musician, Kennedy is currently first violinist of the Zeitlin String Quartet which is coached by Peter Salaff and the Cavani String Quartet. The quartet is part of the Intensive String Quartet Seminar at CIM and received Honorable Mention in the Darius Milhaud competition. He has attended and performed at several summer music festivals, including the Sarasota Music Festival, National Arts Centre of Ottawa Young Artists’ Program, Music Academy of the West, and the Meadowmount School of Music.


1. How did you begin to study at Hochstein?

My orchestra teacher at Penn Yan Elementary school saw my interest in and affinity for music and suggested to my parents that I study at Hochstein. I remember my very first trip to Hochstein with my mom to meet Dr. Palmer and see how I could get involved.

2. You have studied at Hochstein for many years in a number of different programs. Can you share one or two of your favorite memories?

Of course it’s extremely difficult to narrow down something that was such a huge part of my life to just a couple of memories. HYSO during my freshman year of high school was definitely one of the highlights of my years at Hochstein. During that year I had the honor of being a concerto competition winner as well as the great experience of going on tour in Italy and Switzerland with some of my best friends. I just always felt like I was at home when I was at Hochstein. There were like-minded people everywhere with whom I could share my love for music.

3. What do you take away from your Hochstein education?

To put it simply, my Hochstein education put the key components into place to make me who I am today. I realized my love for music at Hochstein; a passion that has been burning inside of me ever since.

4. When and how did you first become interested in music? When did you decide to be a professional musician?

I first became interested in music when my older sister started taking piano lessons. Naturally, I wanted to do the same things as my older sister, so I began teaching myself piano until I was finally allowed to take lessons too. I will also never forget when my mom gave me my first Heifetz CD—I’ve been working to get that sound ever since. 

It took a long time and a lot of thought before I knew I wanted to be a professional musician. Everybody knows that it is a very difficult path, but I just couldn’t imagine living life without music at the very center. I finally made the decision during the summer after my freshman year of high school. It was at that point that I also decided that violin would be my primary instrument.

5. How are you enjoying Cleveland and the Cleveland Institute of Music? What are you involved with at school?

I have been loving my time at CIM so far. I am extremely grateful for the knowledge and inspiration I have gained from my teacher, Ivan Zenaty. He was a brand new faculty member when I started at CIM, coming from 15 years of teaching in Germany, and extensive touring as a soloist both in the U.S. and Europe. I have also loved the chamber music program at CIM. My quartet, which has been together for our entire time at CIM, is part of the Intensive Quartet Seminar. Starting in the Fall I will also be participating in the Intensive Duo Program.


In the Spring of my freshman year I had the honor of being selected as one of the concerto competition winners, so I got to perform as a soloist with the CIM orchestra this past Fall.  Another highlight of Cleveland of course is the Cleveland Orchestra, which is arguably the best orchestra in the U.S.


Another huge benefit at CIM is its partnership with Case Western Reserve University.  Through this partnership I am pursuing minors in Economics, Banking and Finance, and Business Management, in addition to a minor in Music Theory from CIM.

6. Tell us about your summer—what have you been doing, and where?

This summer has definitely been my busiest summer to date. Right after school finished, my string quartet took a road trip for a series of concerts in North and South Carolina. We were hired by Brevard Music Center to give 7 concerts over 8 days to help promote their upcoming season. After about a week at home, I then attended the Sarasota Music Festival for 3 weeks. This turned out to be a very intense, but extremely rewarding experience.  I had the opportunity to perform for and with some of the biggest names in classical music. I am now at the Meadowmount School of Music for 7 weeks, where I will be working intensively with my teacher from CIM and will have several opportunities to perform.

7. What do you look forward to this upcoming school year, academically, musically, and/or personally?

I am mainly just looking forward to continuing things the way they have been going.  The one new venture that I am definitely looking forward to is participating in the Intensive Duo program.


1.  Do you have a favorite performing experience?

I would say that I am very lucky in that performing has constantly become more and more fun for me. Just a couple weeks ago in Sarasota, I had a fantastic experience performing Brahms’ C Minor Piano Quartet with people I had known for a range of one week to two years. We were selected to perform on the faculty concert, and had exactly one week from the first notes of the first rehearsal to the last note of the performance. It was truly an exhilarating experience and a huge success.

2. Can you give us examples of music you listen to in your spare time?

Classical music really is my favorite music to listen to, but in those times when I need something different, I love listening to classic rock. I have the complete recordings of the Beatles, and also enjoy Led Zeppelin and Queen among others. I also had a lot of fun in high school playing in a Dave Matthews cover band.

Listen to Dylan at these links:

Dylan Kennedy - 20 Years in the Making (featuring Dylan in our Recital and Performance Halls!):

Dvorak: Romance in F Minor:

Paganini: Caprice No. 5:

Posted in: Music, Interviews | Tags: Dylan Kennedy , NY , Rochester , Hochstein , Violin | Comments (0) | View Count: (2859)

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