Pint-sized prodigies


Violinists are youngest ever to play with Sinfonietta

Adé J.H. Williams, 6 and Jonathan King, 7

When the Chicago Sinfonietta hosts its 17th annual gala benefit performance on April 2, the show will introduce two new violinists: 6-year-old Adé J.H. Williams and 7-year-old Jonathan King.

They're the youngest musicians ever to perform with the Chicago Sinfonietta, an orchestra dedicated to "musical excellence through diversity."

The two stars will be new to the Sinfonietta, but they're not new to the stage.

They've been playing violin for three years through the Hyde Park Suzuki Institute in Chicago.

Adé, in particular, "gigs a lot," says her mother, Janice Williams.

She's played for a crowd as big as 2,000 at a benefit to raise scholarship money for children in Jamaica.

And she's gone on the road, playing a retirement party in Florida for a relative.

"What I enjoy most is Adé is emotional about her music. You feel it. That's unusual for a child. Most children play it straight. They play notes," Williams says.

Jonathan has a more modest resume. "This definitely is the biggest gig he's had," says mom Adrienne King.

Jonathan enjoys playing the violin, which makes the hour-plus a day he spends practicing easier, she says. Adrienne and husband, Erik, signed up Jonathan and his little brother, Wilson, 5, for music lessons because they see it as an opportunity to grow.

"He's learning discipline, that if you want to be good at something, you have to work at it," she says.

Lucinda E. Ali, founder and executive director of Hyde Park Suzuki Institute, chose the children for the Sinfonietta performance.

She says any of her students could do what Adé and Jonathan are doing, although most of them don't.

"They are exceptional children, and they come from really committed parents who are very into their children," she says.

Parental involvement is the key to the Suzuki method of teaching music to very young children. Enrolling at the Hyde Park Institute costs $540 for a 12-week session, which includes a half-hour private lesson, a one-hour group lesson and a parents' class each week.

Parents are expected to learn the instrument and work with the child during home practice sessions-they are the "home teacher," Ali says.

Adé and Jonathan, who will play the first movement of Bach's Concerto for Two Violins, will have their first and only practice with the orchestra the afternoon of the benefit performance.

They may be musical prodigies, but that doesn't mean they plan to be musicians.

Second-grader Jonathan says he's leaning toward a career as a professional basketball player, while first-grader Adé wants to be a ballerina. Cindy Richards

Kids Eat Chicago

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