Kendra Sobania began playing the violin when she was just 5 years old. Her mother, Monique Sobania, encouraged her daughter to take lessons at the St. Francis Music Center in Little Falls, a ministry sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls. She received instruction there for nearly a dozen years.
Now 21, Kendra has become an accomplished musician, graduating high school in 2014 from Interlochen Arts Academy in northwest Michigan. She spent her summers at Interlochen Arts Camp as a student and teaching assistant. Later as an Emerson scholar, Kendra studied at Interlochen’s Advanced String Quartet Program and has collaborated with New York City’s Bill T Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and outreach concerts throughout Minnesota, Colorado and New York.
Kendra will perform a concert to benefit the St. Francis Music Center June 3 (see below).
“When I was young and throughout my life, so many people supported me — my family, my teachers, really a combination of multiple people,” said Kendra, who attended Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Little Falls. “The reason I am where I am today is because of the people who have given to me. Music is so much a part of who I am. It shaped me when I was young. I just want other kids, other people, who may not have the opportunity to do so financially to have the chance I had.”
Kendra, who attends the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester in New York, has played in orchestras throughout the United States. As an active member of Eastman’s Hesed group, she regularly performs fundraising concerts for churches in New York State.
But it has not always been easy for her. She said being a musician takes hard work and discipline, both skills she learned at the music center and throughout her life.
“It’s a choice you have to make. I don’t always love it,” she said. “I keep doing it because I know it is what I have been called to do. God has given me a gift and I want to multiply it, I want to share it with others.”
After high school, Kendra said she went through a painful time in her life, where she felt like Jesus was far away from her.
“I almost wanted to quit playing, but God carried me through that time. … that’s how I know God is calling me to do this. I hope my story can encourage other people not just with music but in their careers or in their lives that, if you are called to something, God has something good in store for you. I think that’s the biggest thing I’ve learned — to just hold onto truth, and keep on pushing forward.”
Kendra will be home in Little Falls during the month of June before heading to Korea, where she will study the language. She has been working with a Korean church near the college, studying Scripture and learning about their culture. She will return to Eastman in the fall for two more years of study.
She hopes in her future she will be able to do more outreach or fundraising performances like the one she is giving at St. Francis Music Center June 3.
“My dream would be to combine music and God’s love and to be able to share my story to encourage and inspire others,” she added. “My heart is in performing and reaching out in that way to others.”
If you go …
What: Kendra Sobania concert to benefit St. Francis Music Center
When: 2 p.m. Sunday, June 3
Where: Sacred Heart Chapel,
St. Francis Convent, Little Falls
Suggested donation: Adults, $10; ages 12 and under, free
More information: 320-632-0655