She stood in astonishment as her name was announced, surprised that she had been chosen as the winner of a youth competition sponsored by the Augusta Symphony.
"It was a big surprise," said Pratima Neti, the winner in the senior division of the Augusta Symphony and Augusta Symphony Guild Youth Competition in Strings. "They announced the runner-up, and I thought, 'Wow, that girl was really good.'"
Pratima, a senior at Lakeside High School, was awarded $100 in the Nov. 13 competition and will be given the opportunity to perform a concerto with the symphony at the Feb. 27 Publix Charities Family concert.
As the lone Columbia County high school student to compete in the competition, Pratima said, she knew she was up against some stiff competition.
"I played in the youth competition in the junior level when I was younger," she said. "I wanted to see if I had improved; I wanted to see how I stacked up against the other students."
The Augusta Symphony Guild developed the Symphony Youth Competition in 1994 as "a community outreach project," according to a press release by Sara Neal, the director of education and outreach for the Augusta Symphony.
"It continues to be the Guild's vision to provide opportunities for young, dedicated musicians to perform with the Augusta Symphony."
Pratima Neti, a senior at Lakeside High School, is the winner in the senior division of the Augusta Symphony and the Augusta Symphony Guild Youth Competition in Strings. She played the violin. Pratima had participated in other competitions growing up, but she entered the contest to see how good she was compared with other people.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
The annual competition rotates instrument focus between piano, strings and brass/winds/percussion.
Pratima, the daughter of Kamalakar and Sita Neti, of Martinez, has musical ties. Her mother sings Karnactic, a style of Indian music, and both of her sisters are musically inclined.
Her oldest sister sings and plays the piano, while her other sister plays the saxophone.
"It was actually something I wanted to go into," Pratima said of learning the techniques of playing a violin. "I walked around the house playing a fake violin."
Pratima's parents soon enrolled her in Suzuki Strings of Augusta shortly after moving to the area seven years ago.
"I really liked the violin and practiced a lot," said Pratima, who graduated from Suzuki when she was in the ninth grade. "I learned quickly."
Today, the Nebraska native takes private lessons from Augusta Symphony concertmaster Ryan Kho. In addition to playing the violin, Pratima plays the piano and string bass.
Although she loves the outlet that music provides, Pratima wants to major in finance once graduating from Lakeside High.
"I've applied to both the University of Pennsylvania and Georgia Tech," she said. "And, I just found out some really good news: I've been named a semi-finalist for the National Merit (Scholarship) Competition."
When she isn't busy learning new music, Pratima is active in the National Honor Society, the National Art Honor Society, the Beta Club, Students Against Destructive Decisions and serves as vice president of the school's Math Honor Society.
"My parents find it funny that I don't come home from school at a normal time," she said. "But, they're very supportive."
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