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La Noticia - Marlene Ballena

Oct 3, 2018

The Charlotte Symphony Orchestra is a prestigious organization composed of 59 musicians, including Marlene Ballena, an artist that puts the "Latino touch" on every piece she touches. Marlene plays the cello but learned several instruments from a young age. She always knew she wanted to be a musician "at 10 years old, she played at weddings and had a very busy schedule because when she wants studying and practicing she was working. Since I was young, I was used to earning money for playing music" she told us.

When she graduated high school in her native Peru, she intensified her musical studies and earned a spot as a cellist at the Conservatorio Nacional de Musica en Lima, later she earned the post as the principal cellist at the Peruvian Symphony Orchestra.

"My parents thought that was the peak of my professional musical career because those were positions that musicians sought their whole lives and I was only 20 years old" said Marlene.

She started applying to scholarships at universities to study music in the United States and in 2003 the University of Louisville in Kentucky awarded her a scholarship.

"It wasn't easy to earn the scholarship because I didn't have a visa to travel, I had to send my auditions in by mail" says Marlene

"English wasn't easy"

Marlene remembers that at first, it was not easy to learn English and she especially found it difficult "when I was in the orchestra and I couldn't differentiate the pronunciation of certain words and sometimes I sounded funny" recounts Marlene.

When she graduated from the school of music, she pursued her masters at the Cleveland Institute of Music where she participated in various seminars with global influences. One of the things that Marlene loves about music is that it connects people of various cultures, languages and nationalities "we musicians communicate with music, we don't need anything more"

The Charlotte Symphony
Marlene has played with prestigious orchestras like the Akron Symphony, Canton, Pittsburg (with which she played in various cities in the US, Canada and Qatar). In 2014 she began her work with the Charlotte Symphony.

"At the audition for the Charlotte Symphony, I was really nervous because I was behind a large black curtain and I prefer to see the audiences' faces so I can connect with those that are listening to me play. They didn't allow us to speak or even wear heels so the judge wouldn't know if we were male or female. I waited all night to hear back about the audition and it wasn't until midnight that I heard I was selected to join. Out of 70 people that auditioned, only 2 were selected"

"Music finds you, if you are meant to be a musician, even if you try to run, life always brings you back to music music finds me." Says Marlene.

Originial story here.