Bemidji Symphony Orchestra to feature 17-year-old violinist in May 15 concert
Timothy Pinkerton joined the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra at the age of 10 after about four years of private lessons. His mom, Tess, contacted BSO conductor Beverly Everett and asked if her son could audition.
BEMIDJI — When Timothy Pinkerton was 3 years old, he asked his parents for a violin and a pony.
He eventually got the violin. He didn’t get the pony. Now 17 and a high school junior, Pinkerton has become an accomplished violinist with a bright future. He’ll be the featured performer on Max Bruch’s beloved “Violin Concerto No. 1” on Sunday, May 15, at the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra’s season-ending concert.
Pinkerton, the youngest of Steven and Tess Pinkerton's three sons, has been working on the Bruch piece for about three years.
“I had heard it on the radio and thought that sounded really cool,” he said. “It’s like the first actual concerto I learned. It’s one of the standard repertoire pieces that all the professional violinists play and it’s very well known.”
Timothy joined the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra at the age of 10 after about four years of private lessons. His mom, Tess, contacted BSO conductor Beverly Everett and asked if her son could audition.
“I sent her a reply that I’m sure I would be embarrassed to read now,” Everett recalled. “Something like, ‘We do allow younger people, but they have to be at a certain level, and we can’t just let anybody play.’”
So they arranged for Timothy to sit in on a rehearsal with the second violin section. Everett could barely see the kid sitting in the back row, but she heard enough to know he needed to join the orchestra.
“Probably about five minutes into that rehearsal, from where I was standing on the podium and looking back and watching him, I knew right away that he had a special talent,” Everett said.
Two years later, at the ripe old age of 12, Pinkerton was chosen to become the principal second violinist, leading the section.
“That’s a crucial role in our orchestra,” Everett said. “The concertmaster is the one who everybody notices. But the principal second is in charge of their section, and often that part is harder to play because they don’t have the melody.
"So they’re sitting there with the first violins right beside them kind of getting all the glory, and it makes all the difference in the world to have wonderful leadership in that section. Timothy was the most technically qualified to do that, even at the age of 12.”
Pinkerton embraced the role, and more importantly, his fellow musicians embraced him.
“Everyone was really friendly,” he said. “When Beverly asked me to step up as principal second that got me into the front row. I wasn’t very tall, so people sitting behind me would complain that they couldn’t see my bow for the bowing changes.”
One of the other BSO musicians is Eric Olson, assistant professor of music at Bemidji State University. He plays with Pinkerton in the Bemidji String Quartet and also is Timothy’s violin instructor.
"Timothy is a huge talent, and he’s also a very hard worker,” Olson shared. “And to have a career in music you need both. Talent gets your foot in the door; it’s the hard work over a long period of time that gets you a lasting career.”
Pinkerton hopes to make that career happen. He plans to audition for several prestigious college music programs next year.
“I’m planning on pursuing a career in violin performance, playing in a professional orchestra,” he said. “I’ll see where I get accepted and then pick one school.”
Timothy started violin lessons with Ashley Hodapp at Bemidji Music Studio when he was 6. During a Christmas break that first year, he went ahead in his book on his own.
“Then he just kind of took off,” said his mother, Tess Pinkerton. “He had a passion for it. When we’re in the car, we’d listen to classical music. It’s just wired into him.”
Music isn’t Timothy’s only passion. He loves to bake (pies are his specialty) and he raises chickens, currently about 40 of them.
“I started baking when I was 10 or 11,” he said. “People always say they learned baking from their mom or their grandma. I mostly learned from watching YouTube videos.”
The Pinkertons got their first chickens in 2014. Timothy joined 4-H and started showing them at the Beltrami County Fair.
“You have to get new chickens each year for the fair,” he said. “So we just kept adding on and now there’s like 40 birds in the yard. We name most of them, but once you get up past a certain number it’s hard to keep track.”
Everett is looking forward to showcasing Timothy at Sunday’s BSO concert. He is following in the footsteps of talented young musicians like Eric Haugen, Sadie Hamrin and Sarah Hamrin who have also played with the orchestra.
“I love that we incorporate people of all ages, and especially these really young kids who play with us,” Everett said. “We love all the kids who play with us, but there are some who have really gone on to do wonderful things in music and have promising careers. It’s so fun for me when they can come back as soloists.
"I have no doubt that Tim will go on and make his mark in the world, but hopefully always be willing to come back and perform with us, too.”
If you go
What: Bemidji Symphony Orchestra concert
When: 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 15
Where: Bemidji High School Auditorium
Tickets: Adult $25, Seniors 62 and older $20, college students with ID $10. Students grades K-12 free. Available with cash or check at the door, in advance at Lueken’s Village Foods North and South or online at www.bemidjisymphony.org.