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On a Flute

OUR Scholarship Helps Undergraduate Perform in New York City

As a child in south Florida, scaling a mountain seemed like a far-fetched task to Adriana Varn.

That was before the young musician moved to Eagle, Idaho, where she learned mountains weren’t so daunting if you tackled them with the right tools, and the skill that comes with practice.

Lots of practice.

“When we moved to Idaho, I got into mountain biking,” the University of Idaho freshman said. “I learned to really like it.”

When it came to her education, Varn, who plays flute and is earning a music degree at the Lionel Hampton School of Music, understood that tons of practice is also the best tool for musical success.

Her dedication to her instrument and rehearsals helped her reach an often-distant vista for young performers: Last month, Varn played at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

“It is one of the most prestigious venues in the world for classical and popular music,” Varn said.

Varn, whose goals is to become a professional musician, enrolled at the university at the recommendation of her high school band director, a Vandal alumnus. After joining Lionel Hampton last fall, she applied to the Worldstride Honors Performance Series, which sponsors the Carnegie event, at the urging of a professor.

She auditioned via video and received a letter that her tape was being reviewed.

“And then I waited,” Varn said.

By the end of October, an acceptance letter invited her on a five-day tour that included a performance at Carnegie Hall. A $800 Office of Undergraduate Research scholarship supported her travel to New York City.

“If you want to be a professional, you have to be completely prepared.”

— Adriana Varn, Undergraduate, Music

“This is an incredible achievement for Adriana as a first-year student majoring in instrumental music performance,” said Leonard Garrison, a distinguished professor of flute and associate director of Lionel Hampton. “As her flute instructor, I’m proud of Adriana’s excellence and rapid progress and am grateful that the OUR supported her.”

Varn, the only student representative from Idaho, traveled alone to New York City and once she arrived, she spent several days rehearsing with a group of student musicians at the Sheraton Hotel in Times Square. Rehearsals started at 8 a.m. and ended at 5 p.m. The stage of Carnegie Hall with its ornate balustrades and epic history was four blocks away.

“The performance hall was not as giant as I expected, but it was very impressive looking,” Varn said. “There was a top floor and bottom floor, and the acoustics sounded great.”

Leonard Garrison

Professor of Flute Emeritus and Associate Director Emeritus

204 Music


The scores had an American West theme with the symphony performing “Shenandoah,” “Cowboys Life,” and “Buckaroo Holiday.”

“They were all relatively difficult and not something I expected,” Varn said. “I thought we would learn something more classical for such a fancy venue.”

The opportunity taught Varn that being prepared was paramount.

“If you want to be a professional, you have to be completely prepared because you don’t learn on the fly,” she said.

The rehearsals were long and strenuous, and the performance made the experience worthwhile, she said.

“It’s important for our students to experience how the music world functions at the highest level,” Leonard said.

It doesn’t matter what music she is asked to perform, Varn said she would return to Times Square and the country’s greatest music hall if she is invited back.

“If I got the chance, I would do it again a million times,” Varn said.

Article by Ralph Bartholdt, University Communications and Marketing.

Photos provided by Ralph Bartholdt, University Communications and Marketing.

Published in March 2023.

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