Fort Smith Violinist, Born Deaf, To Perform At Carnegie Hall

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FORT SMITH (KFSM) – A local teen’s passion for music has landed her at New York City’s prestigious Carnegie Hall.

Emily Bieker is a sophomore at Southside High School, and has been playing the violin since she was 11 years old. After going through an audition process, she was selected to play in the Honors Performance Series.

“The acoustics are just perfection, and it rings for a long time and I would love that,” Bieker said. “And I get to do it!”

Southside Orchestra director Steven Hughes said he sees his students about seven hours each week.

“She is really setting the bar for what students can accomplish through orchestral music,” Hughes said.

But school isn’t the only place Bieker practices. She has a private lesson once a week and a spare bedroom at home dedicated to music.

“She spends all of her time in there,” her mother, Dawn Howell, said. “It’s probably the first thing she does when she wakes up and the last thing she does when she goes to bed.”

While violin is her first love, she’s picked up other skills along the way.

“Piano is so hard. It’s so hard for me, just coordinating both of my hands,” Bieker said.

She plays the saxophone, too.

But there was a time in the musician's life when she wouldn’t have heard a single note.

“She was born deaf. Her eardrums had soaked in amniotic fluid so long that they just lost their sponge, like ability to echo music, to echo sound,” Howell said.

Two surgeries and six months later, she could hear.

“For the first six months, we were preparing completely for her to be deaf. Picking up sign language, learning how to teach an infant sign language,” she said.

She will be performing five songs at Carnegie Hall on Sunday with a group of students from several other countries.

Bieker isn't the only local student in New York City right now. Another student from Bentonville High School will also perform Sunday. Liam O’Dell will play the string bass, according to a press release.

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