A! Magazine for the Arts

Youth Spotlight: Cameron Lugo

September 28, 2011

Cameron Lugo is a young musician and composer who is winning awards at local, state and national levels.

The 14-year-old son of Ralph and Dawn Lugo of of Jonesborough, Tenn., Cameron is in the ninth grade. He is home schooled along with his four brothers and sisters, all of whom play multiple musical instruments.

Cameron is a violinist with the Symphony of the Mountains Youth Orchestra, where he serves as concertmaster. He performs with the Academy of Strings Ensemble, in his church orchestra weekly, and as a chamber musician for weddings and other events. He has participated in two of the University of Tennessee's Violin Festivals and has been selected through auditions to play for master classes with Dr. Miroslav Hristov at UT-Knoxville and with Professor Oleh Krysa from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. Until recently, Cameron sang with the Mountain Empire Children's Choral Academy, but is taking this semester off to focus more on violin and composition.

Cameron wrote his first music composition at age six. He began playing the violin at age nine under the instruction of Tim Barrett at the Academy of Strings in Johnson City, Tenn. This fall, Cameron began studying with Dr. Thomas Joiner, professor of violin and orchestral activities at Furman University in Greenville, S.C.

In January of this year, Cameron began studying cello with Kathleen Bowman of Knoxville, Tenn. to round out his understanding of and versatility in string instruments. He also plays viola, but that has been self-taught.

In 2009 Cameron began studying music theory and composition with Ivy Blair of Elizabethton, Tenn., who was already his piano instructor. He has had additional studies with nationally recognized composer Dan Forrest of Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C.

Cameron says, "I have done a lot of study on my own, mostly by reading composition texts and studying the works of the master composers, especially J.S. Bach. As I progressed in my studies with Mrs. Blair, she began bringing in the expertise of Robert Jeter, who is an active music arranger, pianist, and music theory teacher (with the East Tennessee State University Department of Music). I had the privilege to perform under the baton of Mr. Jeter this past spring when I was invited to play in the orchestra for the ETSU Opera performance of The Bartered Bride. Mr. Jeter and I also collaborate in violin and piano performances. He is a great musical mentor and coach to me."

"I would say that listening to a wide variety of classical music has inspired me the most. When I hear a certain style or mood that I find interesting, I am often inspired to write my own piece to express myself in that style or mood. In this way, I view the great composers as my teachers and I find a way to express my own individuality in what I have learned by studying their works."

Music is a way of life for Cameron and his family. He says, "At the beginning of each year, my parents mark our calendar with the many musical events in our area, then we attend as many concerts and recitals as we can. We frequent performances of the Johnson City Symphony and the Symphony of the Mountains as well as performances at ETSU and Milligan College. My parents have always taken us to concerts from a very young age. It is a way of life for our family."

Cameron's parents were active musically during high school. His father played trumpet and his mother played viola. They both sang in the choir and were in the marching band. His mother says, "Music played a very big role for both of us during those years, and we are so glad to see our children enjoying all the benefits of involvement in music as well."

Cameron performs, either as a soloist or with an orchestra, approximately every six weeks. He practices violin for three hours daily and piano for one hour; and he spends about an hour each day composing and studying theory.

What keeps him motivated? "The joy of playing makes me pick up my violin every day. Learning each piece and the intricacies of it is like a journey. I am always going back and refining and learning more about each piece that I learn," he says. "In composition, bringing a project or piece to completion keeps me motivated and focused to continue. I love to take an idea or theme and develop it into an entire piece."

It's no wonder that Cameron plans to study violin performance and composition in college. He says, "I hope one day to teach violin and composition, perhaps at the college level. I also envision myself continuing to perform as a soloist. I would also like to explore my interest in conducting."


Cameron made his concerto debut this past year performing the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor at the historic Tennessee Theatre by virtue of winning the Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestra (KSYO) Concerto Competition. He has since been a soloist with the Appalachian Classical Music Association (ACMA) Honors Orchestra in 2011 as well as being selected as concertmaster of the orchestra the same year. This past year, Cameron performed as a violinist in the opera orchestra of ETSU's production of Smetana's opera The Bartered Bride. Cameron was a featured violinist in the 2011 "String Harvest" concert, a fund-raiser for the Second Harvest Food Bank showcasing gifted young string musicians in the area. Cameron frequently performs as a chamber musician for weddings and at
other events.

In addition to winning the KSYO Concerto Competition, Cameron has been a winner in the 2010 ACMA Concerto Competition, and an awardee of the Outstanding String Soloist Award in the ACMA Sonata Classics Festival at which he was chosen to perform at the Outstanding Performer's Honors Recital for three consecutive years. He has been a first place winner of the Bristol Music Clubs Scholarship Auditions in 2009 for violin and received an honorable mention award for piano the same year. Cameron was selected by audition to play a master class for violinist Professor Oleh Krysa of the Eastman School of music. He has also performed in master classes for Dr. Miroslav Hristov, Linda Fiore, Terry Durbin and William Fedkenheuer.

As a composer, Cameron's Quartet No. 1 in C minor, written on a theme of Shostakovich, placed first in the 2011National Federation of Music Clubs (NFMC) Junior Composers Contest for the entire nation. Recently, the composition won first place in the Pikes Peak International Young Composer's Competition in the chamber music division. Cameron was awarded first place in the choral division of the contest with his composition for choir and orchestra How Excellent is Thy Name. He was given the Outstanding Composition Award at the 2009-2010 Sonata Classics Festival and had his Quartet No. 1 in C minor performed at Outstanding Performer's Honors Recital in 2010. He has been asked to compose a piece for duo-violas and piano to be performed at a high-school senior recital this upcoming year.