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A life in music

November 12, 2005|By By Jacqui Brown

Young Artist competition winner will be featured at season kickoff performance of the Burbank Philharmonic. At 3 years old, Ben Hildner sat down at a piano but soon realized it was not his thing, so at 8, he turned his attention to the cello.

Born to parents who were both musicians and who later chose different career paths, Hildner said he knew at an early age that the business of music could go either way -- you could struggle or your could become successful.

But by his senior year at Highland Park High School in Chicago, even before be began to win competition after competition, he knew in his heart that he was destined for a life in music.

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"I remember making that decision toward the beginning of my senior year and I remember feeling a lot of pressure because here I was making a big career decision at 18," Hildner said.

Hildner's competitive side came out during the last year of high school.

He won the Chicago Youth Symphony Concerto Competition, the Northwest Symphony Concerto Competition and was a featured performer in the Music in the Loft Series' young artists recital and has won many more since.

During that same year, he was also the recipient of the John Venzon Memorial Scholarship at the Music Institute of Chicago where he worked with Gilda Barston of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

"Ben is a very charismatic performer and is always interested in communicating with an audience, especially communicating all the dramatic elements of the music," Barston said. "He always exhibited a remarkable devotion to the cello -- he knew what he wanted and did everything he needed to do to succeed. I'm very proud of him."

After graduating from high school, Hildner headed for the West Coast where he has spent the last four years honing his skills at USC under the wing of fellow cellist, performer and music professor La CaƱada Flintridge resident Eleonore Schoenfeld.

"It's a very difficult profession and sometimes it takes luck but I believe he has quite a career in performing," Schoenfeld said. "It's not unusual for someone this age to be this talented but he also has the personality and drive to make things come through and that's what it takes to get into the limelight in this business."

In February, Hildner, 21, entered the Burbank Philharmonic's Hennings-Fischer Young Artist Competition because he wanted to get more competition experience and ended up taking top honors on his first try.

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