Music ‘is my life’ says teen who made Carnegie Hall debut at 13

MEET YOUR NEIGHBOR: Cameren Anai Williams, 17

Violist Cameren Anai Williams made her solo debut at Carnegie Hall at 13, just two years after she transitioned from the violin to the viola. Her debut followed her 2013 win in the amateur category of the American Protégé International Concerto Competition..

The 17-year-old Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts junior has an impressive list of accolades: a principal violist with A.W. Dreyfoos’ orchestra since freshman year, winning the 2017 Delta Cultural Educational Service Foundation, Inc. Our Kids Rock competition, performing as An Evening with Black Artists Alpha Educational Foundation featured youth artist, finalist in the 2016 American Viola Society’s Solo Competition senior division and winning the 2016 South Florida Youth Artist Solo Competition high school division.

Williams, a West Palm Beach resident, said that in her household – with her music professor mother Erika Locke-Williams overseeing the family – playing an instrument was a natural progression. “I started violin when I was five and then my mom got me a viola for my 11th birthday,” she said. “The minute I got it, I loved it. I wasn’t even thinking about viola for my primary instrument.”

Having a mother who is not only musical but has a vast knowledge of music history is a big inspiration to Williams. Her mom plays a variety of instruments, including wind, brass and piano – and sings . “My mom is really knowledgeable about music history and that’s one thing I love talking about,” she said. “So to be able to talk with my mom about something I am so deeply affected by, I think that is a really special thing.”

Williams is attending the Center Stage Strings program at the University of Michigan this summer where she will be performing with other high-level musicians.

“I’m going to be working on chamber music which is music with a small number of people,” she said. “I want to focus on my solo and chamber music. I have college auditions in the fall so I wanted to go somewhere where I could get my solo repertoire up to par.”

Williams said her biggest challenge is balancing high school life with music and academics and figuring out how to make time for practice and still squeeze in a social life.

“I’m at the top of my class, number six with straight A’s but it’s been hard to manage doing all of my work and getting my two to five hours of viola practice every day,” she said.

Williams said although it is difficult she tries to spend time with friends when her schedule permits. And, although she’s very shy she credits music for helping her get out of her shell a bit more. Everything she does, she says, comes back to music. “Music is not just a part of my life,” Williams said. “It is my life.”

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