Rotary-sponsored visit to Symphony reminds us of a 'Story'

Closing another calendar year at Community School of the Arts means we’re finding many reasons to be thankful for the 19 years behind us and the exciting years ahead.

This weekend we appreciate once again the generosity of the Rotary Club of Knoxville. Their Arts and Diversity initiative has made it possible for 100 CSA students and their families to attend the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra’s 25th Annual Clayton Holiday Concert this weekend at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium.

CSA alum Shelly Story performs with the University of North
Carolina Symphony.

Closing another calendar year at Community School of the Arts means we’re finding many reasons to be thankful for the 19 years behind us and the exciting years ahead.

This weekend we appreciate once again the generosity of the Rotary Club of Knoxville. Their Arts and Diversity initiative has made it possible for 100 CSA students and their families to attend the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra’s 25th Annual Clayton Holiday Concert this weekend at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium.

It’s a great opportunity for students to see two of their instructors outside the classroom: Carol Zinavage is principal keyboardist, and Lisa Muci is violinist for the KSO.

Over the years, CSA faculty and KSO have often overlapped in this beneficial way. We also have a special student in common.

Angela “Shelly” Story-Watson came to CSA in 1993. The oldest of six children, the 11 year old practiced her violin daily and set high standards for herself. However, Shelly’s musical future became uncertain when her family experienced financial hardships.

“I came to the Community School of the Arts with the single goal of becoming a violinist,” Shelly says. “My violin studies would have ended had I not been accepted as a scholarship student at the CSA.”

At CSA, Shelly studied with Martha Bachelder Kaufman, then a member of the KSO and now of the Washington National Opera. She also received CSA support for opportunities outside the scope of the school, including assistance attending Governor’s School of the Arts and her first year of college.

“[CSA] gave me hope of achieving my goals for the future by offering me opportunities that I simply would have never had otherwise,” Shelly says.

She studied at the Boston Conservatory and received a BA from North Carolina School of the Arts. While pursuing her Master of Music degree there in 2008, she performed under the direction of NCSA Chancellor John Mauceri in the orchestra at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards. Shelly is a member of Winston-Salem Symphony and performs with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra and Charleston Symphony Orchestra. Last year, she came full circle and returned to her native Knoxville to perform with the KSO.

Shelly is a success story and an inspiration. The same vision that kept Shelly motivated moves us into our 20th year. More students to teach, more dreams to make a reality. We hope the students attending this weekend’s KSO concerts look up on the stage of amazing performers and not only see their instructors in the orchestra and their contemporaries in the Sound Company Children's Choirs and Go! Contemporary Dance Works—we hope they also have a vision of their futures.

“I am living a life now that does not reflect a disadvantaged upbringing because, thanks in a large part to the Community School of the Arts, I didn’t have one,” Shelly says. “Because I was not limited in my opportunity, I have had a choice about what I’ve done with my life.”