A Few Minutes with Hannie

St. Olaf College Junior, Hannie McGarity, answers a few questions about her love for violin, playing during the Edvard Grieg Society of MN's String Competition, and her upcoming trip to perform in Bergen, Norway!


Q. When did you know that studying violin would be a lifelong endeavor for you?

A. I started playing in fifth grade. I fell in love with the instrument, but it wasn’t until after I graduated from high school that I dedicated myself to pursuing violin performance as a career.

Q. What was your reaction when your name was announced as the EGS String Comp winner?

A. I was absolutely shocked!  I applied as a fun motivation for learning new repertoire, and I couldn’t believe it when I made it past the first round.  I looked at the final competition as an opportunity to perform the repertoire I’d worked on all semester, and went into it with no expectations.  Winning wasn’t even something I had considered!

Q. Do you have a pre-performance ritual/how do you control nerves or ground yourself before a competition/important performance?

A. I have spent the last two years struggling to control my mind and body before all performances, whether for studio class at school or for orchestral seating auditions.  Competing in the Grieg competition made me realize that I play best when I let go of any worries about possible outcomes, and I simply look forward to sharing music with an audience. 

Q. Had you played Grieg prior to the competition? What was the most challenging part of learning the competition repertoire/how did you approach the repertoire?

A. The only Grieg I had played before the competition was the String Quartet in G minor, which I studied at chamber music camp in high school. I remember thinking the piece was difficult at the time, and I look forward to playing it again someday with a more mature mindset.  The most challenging aspect of learning the repertoire for the competition was the large amount of music I needed to prepare, along with how different the characters were in each movement.  Before this, I had only worked on two, maybe three movements of music at a time.  Playing the whole Sonata, the Sinding Suite, and the Grieg miniature totaled seven movements of music.   

Q. What are your musical goals for the upcoming school year? 

A. I will be performing a junior recital in the fall and will be starting to put together repertoire for graduate school auditions next fall.  As always, I will work on improving my technique and musicality.

Q. What do you intend to do after graduation? (if you already know you’re going to music school, what schools are you most interested in/why?)

A. I intend to pursue a master’s degree in violin performance.  In my opinion, the most important factor of grad school is the teacher.  Before making any decisions about where to apply, I intend to meet and take lessons with many potential teachers.

Q. What would you want other violin students to know about the music of Grieg/Nordic composers?

A. I knew very little about Nordic music before this competition, and it was wonderful to skim the surface of such a rich collection of works.  I have found it important to listen to the underlying harmonies; there are a lot of unexpected dissonances and deceptive resolutions that come as a surprise to the listener.

Q. Have you been to Bergen before? What are you most looking forward to about the trip?

A. I haven’t even been to Europe before, so Bergen, Norway is a first-time destination for me!  While I couldn’t be more happy to get to perform the music of Grieg in his home country, I think I am most excited about seeing the scenery in Norway during late October, which is my favorite time of year.