For LJ grad, the world’s a stage

By Kirsten Adams


Like many young musicians, recent La Jolla High School graduate Jennifer Bendelstein began her love affair with music as a 3-year-old on the piano.

After moving on to the recorder at 7, she began to learn the flute at age 9. Fifteen years later, her musical yellow brick road has landed her at the Northwestern University School of Music, where she will study with world-renowned flutist Walfrid Kujala.

“I feel like music is another way of communication,” Bendelstein said. “I think that communication between musical voices is really cool.”

Bendelstein is very familiar with that communication. A seven-year member of the San Diego Youth Symphony, she worked her way up from a sixth-grader in the Symphonic Wind Ensemble to the Sinfonia group through seventh and eighth grade. Now, she performs as assistant principle flute and is a member of Philharmonia, the elite branch of SDYS composed of the symphony’s top musicians.

Jeff Edmons, director of the San Diego Youth Symphony, said he looks forward to watching Bendelstein succeed at the collegiate and professional levels.

“She is truly a remarkable student with a superb talent,” Edmons said.

Bendelstein has put that talent to good use, winning first place in the high school division of the 2009 Young Artists Guild music competition.

Besides her experiences with the SDYS and several summers spent studying flute in Prague and Italy, Bendelstein has been active in musical theater. Performing in more than 38 performances with the J*Company Youth Theatre, Bendelstein received a National Youth Theatre award for her portrayal of Anne Frank in the musical “Yours, Anne” by Enid Futterman and Michael Cohen.

“I loved theater,” Bendelstein said. “Eventually, though, I just didn’t have time to do both.”

After deciding to devote herself completely to music, Bendelstein found herself applying to seven collegiate music programs across the U.S.

“It was ridiculously fun flying everywhere,” Bendelstein said.

Auditions included playing excerpts from pieces from multiple musical periods to demonstrate knowledge of technique and musicality, and generally lasted anywhere from five to 15 minutes. At Northwestern University, Bendelstein’s school of choice, auditions lasted roughly a half-hour.

Bendelstein had also attended Northwestern’s National High School Institute of Music, where she was able to study directly under the tutelage of Walfrid Kujala, former principle piccoloist for the Chicago Symphony.

At Northwestern, Bendelstein said she plans to study chamber music, which she enjoys for the close communication between the musicians and the intimate feel of the music.

“I’m pretty sure this is what I want to do,” Bendelstein said. “Forever.”