By Shelby Smoak
After attending an orchestra concert in elementary school, Emily Champagne, who has von Willebrand Disease, knew she wanted to play the violin. For the twelve years since that first concert, she has done so and has made it her dream pursuit.
At 23, Emily’s life is taking off. She is recently married, spends quality time with family and friends, enjoys reading and playing video games and holds down a steady job as a grocery cashier. But she pines for her musical break. “I hope to one day get a job as a professional violinist in an orchestra,” she says.
Emily has performed in a plethora of string quartets and chamber orchestras, including the Suncoast Super Strings, conducted by violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman, who has been the equivalent of a rock star to Emily. “Growing up, I always would listen to the music of Itzhak Perlman,” she states with excitement. “He is an extremely talented violinist, and someone I really look up to!”
When Emily got to perform in a concerto under Perlman’s direction, she was “beyond excited.”
She says, “To be able to perform in front of my violin idol was a huge deal,” and adds, “When I got the phone call stating I was accepted into the program, I remember crying out of happiness. It was such a once-in-a-lifetime experience to be able to work with a world-renowned violinist.”
She has also traveled to Europe with the local youth orchestra and performed in Salzburg, Vienna, Prague and Munich. During high school and community college, Emily served as concertmaster and was appointed co-concertmaster of the University of Central Florida (UCF) symphony orchestra for the 2018-2019 school year.
If you ask Emily about her bleeding disorder, she indicates that it isn’t slowing her down. “VWD hasn’t really affected my music,” she says. “It’s an activity I know I can enjoy without having to worry about my bleeding disorder.” Music helps her escape the challenges of her bleeding disorder.“ To her, it offers a form of expression she can’t find in other places. “You can compose songs that show how you feel, or simply play music to get your mind off of things,” she says.”
Having just graduated with her Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from UCF in May of this year, Emily’s dream is to now perform in chamber groups and a professional symphony orchestra.