CLIFTON PARK - When 21-year-old student violinist Lila Pollack solos with the Music Company Orchestra Saturday in its performance at the Clifton Park Halfmoon Library, she'll be standing with her back to one of her biggest fans.

Lila's grandfather, Saratoga Springs resident Alan Arnold, is first chair violist for the community orchestra, and is enormously - and justifiably - proud of his daughter. Lila is a senior at the Eastman School of Music, where she is concertmistress (first chair violin) for the school's orchestra.

CLIFTON PARK - When 21-year-old student violinist Lila Pollack solos with the Music Company Orchestra Saturday in its performance at the Clifton Park Halfmoon Library, she'll be standing with her back to one of her biggest fans.

Lila's grandfather, Saratoga Springs resident Alan Arnold, is first chair violist for the community orchestra, and is enormously - and justifiably - proud of his daughter. Lila is a senior at the Eastman School of Music, where she is concertmistress (first chair violin) for the school's orchestra. She plans to audition this spring both in the U.S. and abroad, for Master's programs in music performance at prestigious conservatories, but first she must perform her senior recital Dec. 13 at Eastman. According to her "Poppy" (grandfather), "…her brilliant technique causes sparks to fly out of her violin."

It's a 150-year-old instrument Arnold chose for her, which was totally restored by the expert luthier Nicholas Frirsz, whose studio is in Greenfield Center. Lila's Poppy also gave her her first violin, way back when, and the classic Nürnberg bow she now uses.

"That was the best birthday present ever," Lila said. As a violist, her Poppy knows string instruments well. He is also a composer and arranger, and owner of Viola World Publications. His wife, Gloria, was a concert pianist. In her retirement, she sings with the Skidmore Community Chorus and the Battenkill Chorale. Their son, violinist Paul Arnold, is a member of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Their granddaughter began playing violin at age 3 at her home in Brooklyn. Her parents, Pamela and Keith, enrolled her in music school at 7. She studied in the prep division of the Manhattan School of Music for eight years, and spent two summers in her mid-teens at the NYSSSA School of Orchestral Studies, in Saratoga Springs.

Last summer she studied at the International Music Academy Plzen in the Czech Republic. She was finalist in Greenwich Village Orchestra's first annual Young Artist Competition in 2004, and runner-up in 2005. She won the violin division of Interschool Orchestra's Young Artist Competition in 2006.

"Before she could speak, she made up songs and sang to herself," her Poppy recalls. Stories of musical dynasties abound, and there's little doubt that talent can be genetic. But Lila Pollack was adopted from South Korea at 4 months old, and she doesn't share the Arnold genes.

"If she's outstanding, it's because of hard work. She can't depend on anyone's genes," declares her grandfather. Lila herself credits her father's whistling for inspiring her precocious singing, and her entire family with nurturing her talent.

"There are a lot of Asians in music, but I think my talent comes from my family; they're all so talented," she said in a phone call from Rochester, between rehearsals.

Her mother, Pamela, is a graphic artist, "but she tried nearly every single instrument at one time of another, before giving up in frustration at her parents calling out that she was flat or sharp of something," Lila said with compassion.

"My parents took me to Broadway shows as soon as I could walk, and my sister, Susannah, studied dance with the American School of Ballet, so I had as much exposure to music as was possible."

"I'm grateful for all my family has done for me," Lila said. "I'm really, really lucky."

Lila Pollack will be featured soloist with the Music Company Orchestra in Max Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 in a performance at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14, in the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library, 475 Moe Road. The program also includes Berlioz' "Roman Carnival" Overture; Smetana's "The Moldau," and selections from Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Carousel." Admission is free.

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