My Minnesota

Sedra Bistodeau, teenage violinist/fiddler

  • Updated: March 23, 2011 - 2:20 PM

Like many teenage girls, 16-year-old Sedra Bistodeau spends lots of time in the tiny upstairs bathroom at her family's home east of Princeton, Minn. Unlike most teenagers, Sedra usually has a violin pinched between her chin and shoulder.

Every day after Princeton High School lets out, Bistodeau heads home, grabs a bite to eat, polishes off whatever homework awaits and picks up her instrument and her bow.

She typically wanders around the house from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., circling through the kitchen, dining room, up the stairs and into her parents' bedroom. She'll sit down on her bed if there's a new concerto to read. But once it's memorized and locked in, she's off and running.

"I'll play in the driveway if the weather's nice," she says. "But the bathroom has the best acoustics. I just look in the mirror and stare at my left hand."

Sedra started playing when she was 3. Her sister, Deana, began playing at 7. "When I heard her and saw her, I wanted to play because I wanted to be better," Sedra says.

She wows judges at youth symphony competitions and studies under Sally O'Reilly, a renowned professor of violin at the University of Minnesota School of Music.

Her musical personality is a split one. She's one of Minnesota's most accomplished teenage classical musicians, but in the summer she travels the competitive fiddle circuit. She finished fourth last summer in the masters division at an international fiddle festival in Wyoming. She's dazzled grandstand audiences at the Minnesota State Fair's talent shows since she was a little girl, often plucking her fiddle behind her head ala Jimi Hendrix. YouTube is punctuated with her highlight videos.

When he was guest conducting the Minnesota Youth Symphony at Orchestra Hall, legendary Minnesota string-music maestro Peter Ostroushko asked her to play the fiddle tune "Done Gone" in a back hallway.

"Five minutes later, after I picked up my jaw off the floor, we got to talking and have become friends," says Ostroushko, who invites Sedra on stage at local shows.

The sophomore at Princeton High admits that she's a perfectionist when it comes to music.

"I have to concentrate a little bit harder with the classical than with the fiddle music," she says. "There are just so many great concertos out there, written hundreds of years ago, that are the most beautiful things you could ever think of."

Let alone hear in a cramped second-floor bathroom a mile east of Princeton.

CURT BROWN

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