At only 5-years-old, Lida Kaphar decided that she wanted to play the violin, even though her mom wanted her to learn the piano first.
“Every single immigrant parent wants you to play some kind of instrument and my mom wanted me to start with the piano since she would be able to teach me,” Kaphar said. “I was 5-years-old when we had our first major argument and a year later I started to play the violin.”
Growing up, Kaphar participated in the Sacramento Youth Symphony where she had various opportunities to develop her talent and passion for music. Throughout her teen years, she was able to compete in different international competitions, which led her path to play at Carnegie Hall in New York.
Last year while still in high school, Kaphar took advantage of the Advanced Education program at American River College, which allows high school students to take college-level classes. Kaphar said the program helped her to keep a balance between studying music intensely, her regular high school studies and working on her college degree.
“The great thing about this program here at ARC is that I was able to take a certain amount of classes in high school and take two or three classes at college and the credits would count towards my college degree and school transcripts,” Kaphar said. “It was like [killing] two birds with one stone.”
Now 17, Kaphar studies biochemistry and molecular biology at ARC full time, while continuing to independently study music. She emphasizes that her parents gave her all the support she needed to keep pursuing her talent for music.
“For them, it was a time where they spent a lot of energy and effort driving me to rehearsals, getting me on time for the concerts and making sure that I had the right outfit,” Kaphar said. “I’m really grateful for them for doing that.”
Last year, Kaphar played the violin at the Crescendo International Music Competition in Sacramento, where she ended up taking first place and went on to perform at Carnegie Hall, where she ended up placing second place internationally.
“It was a unique experience especially because in the middle of my performance one of my strings popped up,” Kaphar said. “I had to adapt very quickly and sort of figure it out what to do, but I got second place overall.”
Marilyn Best, a director for the Sacramento Youth Symphony, says she’s seen Lida’s passion for music first-hand.
“She is very giving and talented and we are very grateful to have her in our symphony and that’s a very good sign of a diligent worker,” Best said.
Even though Kaphar has focused all of her talent into music, she says she doesn’t want to be a professional musician.
“It’s not for me. I really love music, but it takes a lot of creativity that goes into making music fresh all the time,” Kaphar said. “I’ve had some burnout episodes and it’s really hard because there is the technical part of it and the emotional part of too. It really makes the music stand out.”
Kaphar intends to transfer to UC Davis and continue her studies there.
“[I want] to get a major in biochem and molecular biology, and a minor in music,” Kaphar said.
Despite this, Kaphar says she doesn’t want to lose her appreciation for music just because of some difficult episodes that she’s dealt with in the past.
“If you are in a space where you are exhausted all the time, it feels like you have to do it just to pay bills, it loses at that sort of spark,” Kaphar said. “I don’t want to lose that spark and interest in music that I have.”
This story was updated on Sept. 24 at 11: 30 a.m. A previous version of this story incorrectly spelt Kaphar’s name as “Haphar.”