Ben Rau found his passion for music in playing the cello.

His most recent accomplishment is being selected as principal chair to the Emory Youth Symphony Orchestra, an ensemble selected from talented musicians who are juniors or seniors in high school. Dr. Richard Prior, who teaches at Emory and leads the Emory University Symphony Orchestra, conducts the group.

Ben Rau.

“It’s where I am playing all the difficult professional pieces.” Ben said. “I can spend hours working on technique or tedious movements of pieces, but at EYSO we are playing incredible professional pieces as a group of high school students.”

Ben started playing cello in the third grade at The Lovett School, after his second-grade teacher revealed to him that the music to the “Star Wars” theme song included cello. He continued to practice and advance throughout elementary and middle school under several music teachers.

Teacher Mary Beth Bryant attributes Ben’s success in music to his grit and resiliency.

“When he doesn’t get the results he wants,” she said, “he figures out what he needs to do better next time and moves on.”

Ben furthered his passion for music at Green Mountain Music Festival in Burlington, Vt., where talented young musicians are connected with professional string professors for a month during the summer. Students are able to practice and improve their skills while being instructed by professors from around the world.

While attending Green Mountain for two summers, Ben observed other student’s dedication to music and began to more seriously dedicate himself to the cello.

“I was surrounded by so many like-minded people, and seeing how dedicated they were, made me realize cello is something I really want to pursue.”

After returning home, Ben stopped his other extracurricular activities, including the robotics and engineering clubs, to focus on music. He now spends roughly four hours on weekdays practicing, and logs seven hours of practice each day on the weekend. His hard work clearly has paid off.

What’s next?
Ben plans to further his musical talents in college. He has been auditioning for several different music-oriented schools with plans to attend one in the fall. He says he is most interested in The Cleveland Institute of Music.

This article was reported and written by Amanda Gibson, a student at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School.