SOUTH WEBER -- A talented young lady is picking up her violin and heading for Washington, D.C., today.
Fifteen-year-old Sariah Cook, a Northridge High School student, has been selected to play with the National Youth Symphonic Orchestra and will perform at the Kennedy Center on June 26 with 76 young musicians from across the nation.
"My orchestra teacher received the invitation in the mail and gave it to students in All-State band. I took it home and didn't think I would do it," Sariah said.
"My mom found it on the counter and said I should try out. I only had three days to get an audition ready."
Northridge High band teacher Shawn B. Satterthwaite actually gave the invitation to Sariah.
"Sariah is an exceptionally talented violinist that I have had the pleasure of working with this year in the pit orchestras for two musicals at Northridge High," Satterthwaite said.
"Shortly after she and a few others had the chance to play with the All-State band and orchestra, I received an invitation for students of that caliber to audition for the national groups," he said.
"I knew that Sariah was easily one of the best in our state, so it seemed only natural that she audition for this. She had enough drive to actually research the audition requirements on her own."
Sariah said her family has friends who have a recording studio. In December, she recorded a CD there.
"I helped her get her audition recorded and submitted properly, and it was no surprise to me when they notified us that she had made it," Satterthwaite said.
"I think this experience will really be a great opportunity for her. I was going to say 'chance of a lifetime,' but with her talent, I am sure that she will have as many of these opportunities as she wants.
"To have that kind of talent as a sophomore, I think that she should have every available opportunity."
Sariah said she was anxious about the audition recording.
"I did it several times, then sent it in. I didn't get results for a long time. My family was thinking of scheduling another vacation," she said.
It turns out the family was planning to vacation in Washington if she were selected to participate in the National Youth Orchestra.
But then, Sariah said, "I was in math class when the band teacher came into the class and congratulated me. The whole math class was clapping."
Now she and her dad, Scott, mom Savannah, sisters Gabrielle and Gracie and brother Talmadge will spend their summer vacation in Washington.
"I have an uncle there we will visit," Sariah said.
Sariah has been preparing for an opportunity like this for many years, as she began private violin lessons at age 8. She also takes piano lessons and is an accomplished pianist.
She practices violin for 1 1/2 to two hours each morning and takes violin lessons from Dr. Elizabeth Wallace at the Preparatory Gifted Music School in Salt Lake City.
"Classical music is my favorite. I get on YouTube to listen to Itzhak Perlman," Sariah said.
But she enjoys many other types of music and played jazz when she was in the pit orchestra for "Guys and Dolls."
Sariah plays in the orchestra and full symphony orchestra at Northridge as well as with another orchestra.
"I have played small-band music and more popular music and a lot of Disney songs in a group I used to be in," Sariah said.
Sariah uses her musical talent to help others. She teaches two violin students and one piano student.
Although she isn't very old, she has plans for her future.
"I plan to be a mom and to teach violin on the side, so I can work at home. It is something I love to do," Sariah said.
But before those goals are met, she hopes to get a scholarship to Brigham Young University.
"I am pretty sure I will major in music, but if I don't want to practice five or six hours a day, I have a backup plan. I will most likely major in English with a minor in music. I like English -- it's my favorite class," Sariah said.
While in Washington, she plans to do a lot of sightseeing with the group of young musicians.