A few minutes spent with North Medford High School senior Courtney Badura is enough to learn a few things: First, she's unlikely to be the loudest person speaking in the room. Second, this won't make you less likely to remember her.
Two concerts by the Youth Symphony of Southern Oregon, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 4 and 5, will provide audiences the opportunity to enjoy the 17-year-old's substantial skill with a flute.
"I feel pretty confident about my part," she said. "Of course, there's always those nerves. But that's why I'm just practicing and practicing it."
Her work ethic is her strongest asset as a performer, most will say. Her band teacher from sixth grade and high school, Steve Kessler, said Badura emerged naturally as a leader in band because of the example she set. Since her freshman year, any opportunity she had, she would spend time practicing in the band room.
"And I noticed a lot of other students saw that," he said. "And then I started to notice other kids starting to come in and practice more, because they wanted to be like her — as good as she was, I think. So she really inspired a lot of people."
Musical talent is often discovered early — parents realize their child's inherent abilities and try to nurture the gift. While Badura says this is true of many of her higher-level competitors, she started playing in the sixth grade and only started taking private lessons the summer before her sophomore year. What sets her apart, Kessler said, is her work ethic and personality.
"She's pretty strong mentally," he said. "When it's not going well, she knows when to back off and stop."
Badura tends to talk about her low points as lessons, and her demeanor remains similarly neutral as she discusses her many accomplishments: being accepted into the Oregon All-State Band every year since she was a sophomore; participating in several band clinics in Seattle and Los Angeles. She placed fifth and second in the OSAA state solo competition, respectively, as a sophomore and junior, a contest she hopes to win this year. All are based on auditions, like the concerto competition that landed her the solo this weekend.
"She’s been good all along, and she’s been consistent, so it’s not at all surprising to me that she’s on stage this weekend," YSSO Director Cynthia Hutton said.
Badura is applying to competitive music schools, her dream pick being the Colburn Conservatory directly across from Disney Hall in Los Angeles. The college accepts between 5 and 8 percent of applicants in a given year. She's also considering universities in California, Washington and Oregon.
Before all of that, though, she'll perform a solo by Mozart with YSSO.
The orchestra will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Craterian Theater in Medford, and at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Oregon Center for the Arts Music Recital Hall at Southern Oregon University. For information about the concerts, see www.ysso.org.
— Reach reporter Kaylee Tornay at 541-776-4497 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ka_tornay