Vail Bravo! pianist Katherine Bellino answers 7 |

Vail Bravo! pianist Katherine Bellino answers 7

Meredith Richards
Daily Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Daily

VAIL, Colorado –Fifteen-year-old Katherine Bellino is used to receiving text messages, especially from her mother. But nothing could prepare her more for the text she received last semester. “Katie, you are performing with Yo-Yo Ma,” it said.

“At first I was freaking out and really stressed, but then I cooled down and took a deep breath, says Bellino. “Now I’m just excited. It’s such a privilege that I was offered this opportunity.”

The Bravo! stage is familiar grounds for the Evergreen High school sophomore. As a third grader she conducted the Rochester Philharmonic and as a fifth grader she was a guest conductor for the National Repertory Orchestra. Saturday will mark the first time that Bellino will perform on stage with nonetheless, Yo-Yo Ma, during Imagination Celebration, Adventures in the Arts, presented by the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival and the Vail Valley Foundation. Bellino will accompany Mr. Ma for Camille Saint-Saens “The Swan.”

“Bravo has watched her grow and has been a part of her growing,” says Liz Campbell, Bravo’s director of education. “We are so proud.”

1. Vail Daily: You take private piano lessons from Rodney Mobley. What was his reaction when you told him?

Katherine Bellino: He went white as a ghost and his draw dropped. He looked at me and said, why aren’t they having a professional playing with him. He was so confused and shocked. But after I explained to him that this was a children’s event he finally got it and thought it was amazing. He told me to bring him back a signed program book.

2. Vail Daily: What did your friends think when you told them you were going to be performing with Yo-Yo Ma

Katherine Bellino: A lot of my friends didn’t even know who he was until I made them look him up on the Internet. But now they think it is really cool that someone they know from Evergreen gets to play with a famous musician. Now everyone knows about it, and my friends are really supportive and excited for me.

3. Vail Daily: You’ve performed with your local choir and performed in piano competitions, but this will be the first time you accompany a professional musician. How are you preparing for this?

Katherine Bellino: I’m practicing a lot and watching Youtube! I spend at least two hours a day on the piano with one hour dedicated to playing “The Swan.” I’ve been watching him on Youtube and listening to Yo-Yo playing the song and trying to get a feel for how he portrays his music. I’m reading a lot about him to find out about his background.

4. Vail Daily: What are you most excited about regarding your performance?

Katherine Bellino: I’m just excited to be able to see him in person and the fact that I get to accompany him is pretty amazing. I’ve never seen him perform before. He is the world’s best cellist and I think it is really cool that I get to play with him. It’s such a privilege; I’m just excited all together.

5. Vail Daily: How does this compare with your past experience on the Bravo! stage?

Katherine Bellino: When I conducted the Rochester Philharmonic they gave me a baton and I just swung my hand around because I had no idea what I was doing. Everyone just cheered me on because I was so young. I didn’t have any experience and only was up there because my friend who was supposed to do it was out-of-town. Since I was young, I wasn’t really nervous. I just got up there and had fun. I was like, yay, I’m on stage. But conducting the National Repertory Orchestra was different. I had more musical training by then so I was trying to stay on time with them. It wasn’t as fun because I was like this is a big deal now. I still had fun but I was more nervous than the first time. I think Saturday is going to be really fun. I’ve always wanted to play on stage, and now I get to with Yo-Yo Ma. It will be completely different to be playing on stage and show that I have musical talent besides waiving a baton up and down.

6. Vail Daily: You are sharing the stage with such a celebrated, world-renowned artist, and get to practice just once with Mr. Ma moments before the performance. Does that make you nervous?

Katherine Bellino: I’m not letting it stress me out. Yo-Yo does a lot of events with kids and everyone says he is so patient with them and nice. I am little worried because he is a big deal, but I’m not going to get down on myself if I totally screw up. It’s not like I’m playing in front of a college panel that is going to determine my career. I’m just going to have fun with it.

7. Vail Daily: You’re in high school, a cheerleader and you play the piano. How do you balance it all and do you have any advice for other kids out there?

Katherine Bellino: Time management. At the beginning of the year I wasn’t good at it all. But then I really screwed my head on tight and got my priorities straight and it worked out to do cheer, piano and hang out with my friends. If any kids want to have an opportunity like this, keep practicing and never give up. They can do whatever they want especially if they have support from their parents and friends.

8. Vail Daily: You can check off performing with Yo-Yo Ma before you even have your driver’s license. What’s next and what does this mean for your future?

Katherine Bellino: I’m going to keep practicing, do more competitions and get more decorations on my college resume. I want to get a full ride scholarship to CU or Maryland because they have really good piano departments.

Meredith Richards is the public relations and marketing manager for the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival. E-mail comments about this story to

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