Lillian Arnold Mages, 15, lives in Waltham, Massachusetts, and is in ninth grade. She started playing Texas-style old time fiddling at the age of five, and soon after found a love of classical music. Lillian began studying classical violin at the City Music Center in Pittsburgh, PA. After her family relocated to the Boston area five years ago, Lillian joined the studio of Anait Arutunian at the New England Conservatory Preparatory School, where she also plays in the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra and chamber ensembles.
Lillian won First Prize in the MTNA Massachusetts State Junior String Performance Competition in 2022. She was also awarded second place and the New England Conservatory Preparatory School Virtual Solo Competition in 2020. Lillian was a finalist at the MTNA Eastern Division Junior String Performance Competition, Beethoven Concours Nederland Junior Violin Competition, as well as at the United Stars Music Competition. In the summers, Lillian has attended Greenwood Music Camp as well as Berkshire Summer Music program. This past summer, Lillian was accepted into the Junior Session at the Heifetz Institute in Staunton, Virginia and also attended Luzerne Music Camp Senior Session in New York. An especially memorable performance for Lillian was playing as a soloist with the Wellesley Symphony Orchestra.
In addition to violin, Lillian studies voice at New England Conservatory with Deborah Williams. One of her favorite things is singing with the Boston Symphony Orchestra as a member of the Boston Symphony Children’s Choir. As a singer, Lillian has also competed, winning 1st Prize for two consecutive years in the South Shore Music Club Traditional Irish Ballad Singing Contest.
Lillian still loves fiddling, and has won numerous regional, state, and national titles, including the 2017 National Fiddle Championship SF Division. When she is not playing music, some of her favorite things to do are going thrifting with her three sisters, sight-reading chamber music with friends, and spending time watching Star Trek with her family.
What drew you to both Texas-style fiddling and classical music at such a young age?
By the time I was old enough to learn, (it took a while to convince my parents), my older sisters had been playing violin and fiddle for years. I remember listening to my older sisters practice and wanting to play too. I had been exposed to enough of each style to love both!
You’ve won several notable awards and prizes, including runner-up in the WPO Student Concerto Competition. Congratulations! What do you attribute to winning all these honors, and what do you aspire to in the future?
I owe a lot to the unwavering support of my teacher, Anait Arutunian. She always encourages me while still pushing me to be my best. I feel really lucky to be one of her students! I am very thankful to have a family who loves me and always helps me in all ways possible to do what I love the most. Living in a family with three sisters who play violin is very helpful because I can always get supportive and real feedback. I am grateful to have friends who I can nerd out with and introduce me to new repertoire and teach me new things. So many people have believed in me and helped me out. In the future, I hope to keep working to get as good as I can be!
You’ve also studied voice and have twice won 1st prize for traditional Irish ballad singing. Tell us more about that, what drew you to it, and if you’ll continue your singing as well as violin studies.
I have loved to sing as long as I can remember. I sang constantly around the house, in the car, and everywhere. Before the pandemic I joined the Boston Symphony Children’s Choir, and that made me love singing even more. Singing foreign languages was new to me and I really enjoyed working with conductor James Burton and singing with the BSO. After the pandemic I was able to start taking classical voice lessons at NEC Prep with my amazing teacher Deborah Williams. She has helped me develop my technique and I have enjoyed every one of our lessons. My Mom was scrolling through Facebook when she saw the contest—actually, it looked like something that would be neat — I hadn’t sung a traditional Irish Ballad yet, so I was really excited to add something new to my repertoire. I enjoyed participating in the contest, and meeting the dedicated group of people who were part of the South Shore Folk Club, so I was really excited to go back again last year. Hopefully I will get to come back!
It’s exciting to have a Waltham resident as a soloist in the WPO. Do you enjoy living in Waltham? Is there anything special you like about our city?
I love living in Waltham! My sister and I love to walk to stores. It’s fun to go around on Main Street, Moody Street and I enjoy biking around the Watch Factory. It has a really fun character!! I’ve had a great time participating in Girl Scouts, being part of the Waltham Track Club, hanging out at the library, and playing with the Waltham Middle School Honors Orchestra!
We’re very pleased to have you play in our December 3 Pops. How does it feel to be playing with the WPO?
It is a dream come true. I have always wanted to play with an orchestra, and I am very honored to play with the WPO!