Hattiesburg cellist to represent Mississippi

Young cellist catching others' eyes
Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 5:24 PM CST
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - 12-year-old Ian Gonzalez has been playing the cello since he was a toddler.

“I’ve been playing since I was three, and then when I was four, I started taking lessons,” Ian said. “It’s very difficult. A lot of practicing goes into it.”

Years of practicing have paid off. The Oak Grove Middle School student is a division finalist in the MTNA Junior Strings Competition.

“I won the Music Teachers National Association award, which was a competition with all the strings players my age in Mississippi,” Ian said.

The Hattiesburg native comes from a musical home, which may explain his dedication and love for music.

His mother, Gladys, is a music teacher at the Hattiesburg Public School District. Ian’s father, Jorge, is the Assistant Professor of Music at William Carey University and is also a supervisor of the Hattiesburg Public School’s strings program.

“He was definitely inclined to music, since he was a baby,” Gladys said. “I was teaching lessons; he was in the bouncer, and he’s been around concert music since he was a baby.”

Ian’s parents say they are very proud of him and his recent accomplishment.

“We worked with him, we kind of guided him and prepared a plan for him to prepare each piece and get ready for it,” Jorge said. “We rehearsed with pianist and then up to the point to actually go to the competition and be there.”

“I was very nervous at first but, after they announced it, I felt glad and happy that I finally won it, and it was also my first competition ever,” Ian said.

Now, it’s time to prepare for the video-only division competition.

Ian is a student of Dr. Alexander Russakovsky, professor of cello and chamber music at the University of Southern Mississippi, and is also a member of the Hattiesburg Youth Orchestra.

“I’ve been obviously practicing a lot and doing private lessons with my teacher, and now that I’ve done this state competition, I’m already a little bit warmed up to the video,” Ian said.

“Right now, we’re enjoying the process,” Jorge said. “We are you know, supporting him. Making sure that he does everything he needs for this competition. Expect and wait for the results and see what happens next.”

Gladys and Jorge say they will continue supporting their son and his talent.

“We see something different in him and we as the parents, we feel the responsibility to develop that and see you know, expose this into his maximum potential and see what he can do, as much as he wants to do this,” Gladys said.

“I think I can go a lot of places,” Ian said. “I was telling my parents I want to go to Julliard or any other good college for cello and so I’m kind of going towards cello more than I am going towards other things.”

Winners of the division competition will compete in the National Finals in Reno, Nev.

To learn more about Ian, check out his YouTube page here.

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