Srikari Tummla is an 11th grader with a passion for music and dance and has found a way to balance those passions with a well-rounded academic education at Stoneleigh-Burnham School.
Srikari has been playing the violin since she was about 9 years old, and is involved in Stoneleigh-Burnham’s chamber music program, which she enjoys a great deal. But, like many other students at SBS who have a passion for the performing arts, Srikari’s interest and involvement in music extends beyond the Stoneleigh-Burnham campus.
Soon after arriving here as a new boarding student this past fall, Srikari auditioned for the Youth Orchestra of the Pioneer Valley Symphony. The local community orchestra based in Greenfield, Mass. has been in existence for decades and has had a relationship with Stoneleigh-Burnham for several years. SBS hosted at least one Youth Orchestra concert in the past several years.
Srikari was chosen to be the concert master of the Youth Orchestra, which means she sits first violin. According to Greg Snedeker, music teacher at Stoneigh-Burnham, being chosen for that spot in the orchestra is a huge honor. As part of the Youth Orchestra, Srikari rehearses every Saturday and will be part several of the orchestra’s performances during its 2014-2015 season.
On her interest in the violin, Srikari says, “I wish I could say I picked it up and just started playing.”
Her former lessons teacher, Mary Ellen Dejarlais, was a big influence on her, she said.
“At first I didn’t like playing the violin, but I had an excellent teacher and would have loved any instrument I learned from her,” she said.
When Srikari decided to leave her old school in Foxborough, Mass., to attend SBS, her lessons teacher helped her research opportunities to continue with her interest in orchestral music performance and helped connect her with the Pioneer Valley Symphony.
Dancing and singing are also among Srikari’s interests and for that she has her mother to thank. From her mother, Srikari has learned and developed a passion for both Indian classical dance and South Indian Carnatic singing.
“I have been dancing since I was 7 years old, so this is my eighth year. I actually wasn’t interested in it at first. I hated it,” Srikari said. “But my mother was my teacher, so I had to continue. She said that after my first performance, I could quit if I still wanted to. My first performance on stage was so exhilarating and unforgettable that I continued.”
Srikari says she is hoping to find more time to dance and sing at SBS and recently learned that she will be doing a two-hour solo performance in Indian classical dance next summer.
Srikari is glad that she can now experience the best of both worlds at Stoneleigh-Burnham.
“Stoneleigh-Burnham is smaller than my old school, and I really like the chamber music program, but what I like most about being here is that it’s much more well-rounded. I’m getting a good education all around, not just in music, and I’m finding a way to fit the violin into all of that,” she said.