MOUNT GREENWOOD — Alaina Rea's audition for The Juilliard School took all of 10 minutes to perform and a lifetime to prepare.
Nonetheless, she nailed it.
Rea, 18, will attend the prestigious arts school in New York in the fall. She plays and will continue to study the viola — an instrument she picked up just three years ago after a lifetime of playing the violin.
The viola "is bigger than a violin. It has a deeper tone," Rea said.
Howard Ludwig discusses exceptional 18-year-old viola player Alaina Rea:
Rea graduated from Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School in Mount Greenwood on Sunday. She's the first graduate of the all-girls Catholic high school to attend Juilliard, McAuley spokeswoman Jennifer Busk said.
Rea played in her high school orchestra for four years. She's also been training with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra since third grade. Once a week, Rea takes the train from her home in southwest suburban Orland Park to practice and perform in the Loop.
Meanwhile, Rea also managed to graduate from the honors program at her high school at 3737 W. 99th St.
Rea's audition for Juilliard was in March. She was asked to play a concerto, a suite and a sonata. She sent a video recording of herself performing the three pieces to the school and was one of the few candidates to be asked to perform a live audition.
"They were a lot more welcoming than I thought," Rea said.
Juilliard is extremely selective. Of the 2,407 applicants, only 153 students were admitted for the 2011/12 school year, according to Parchment.com. The website works directly with college admissions and registrars to compile college transcripts, diplomas and other certificates.
Rea's favorite of the three pieces she performed for her audition was Bach's "Suite No. 2." — a piece actually written for the cello.
"It's a really simple piece. You have to work to bring meaning out of the music," she said.
Rea did offer a tip to aspiring musicians. Prior to her audition, she requested a private lesson with one of Juilliard's viola instructors. The lesson also served as a meet-and-greet for the young musician seeking a spot in the prestigious school.
Upon graduating from Juilliard, Rea said she would dream of returning to Chicago to play with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. But before looking ahead, she looked back fondly on her days at McAuley.
"I learned a lot. I did both academics and music. McAuley taught me how to manage my time," she said.
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