Hannah Kounkel

Grade: Sophomore.

Age: 16.

Art focus: Brainerd High School Orchestra.

Adviser nomination: “Hannah is a cellist in Sinfonia Orchestra who has shown outstanding dedication and work ethic to her skills in orchestra. She always has a positive attitude, is willing to try new things and keeps up amazing energy in the room and during the song. During distance learning, Hannah always was on time and actively involved in the lesson. It has been my great privilege to be able to work with Hannah in her orchestra journey!” — Sinfonia Orchestra Director Amber Kopp

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Artist most admired: An artist I admire musically, and particularly orchestrally would probably be Klaus Makela. He is the chief conductor and artistic advisor and on his way to become music director of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. He’s done all of this, and he’s only 25.

Other fine arts activities: I took a pottery class earlier this year that I enjoyed a lot. Outside of school, I enjoy drawing and painting.

Memorable fine arts achievement: This is one of the first fine arts achievements I’ve received. Besides that, I was invited to a writing camp in fifth grade.

Why did you choose the cello? I wanted to play cello because I was originally interested in playing the guitar. I thought that the cello was the closest to the guitar and I ended up just loving the cello a lot more than I thought I would. It just kind of stuck with me. I have relatives who play cello so it just worked. It’s become like a family thing now, something we can connect over.

I like that the cello can be loud or can be very soft. There is a big range with it so you could go as low as a bass or as high as a violin.

Brainerd High School sophomore Hannah Kounkel plays her cello in a small ensemble room at the high school. Kounkel was named this week's Fine Arts Student of the Week. Jennifer Kraus / Brainerd Dispatch
Brainerd High School sophomore Hannah Kounkel plays her cello in a small ensemble room at the high school. Kounkel was named this week's Fine Arts Student of the Week. Jennifer Kraus / Brainerd Dispatch

Most challenging part of playing the cello? My music background is very limited. I had taken piano lessons and that was it. It was a fresh start for me. It was new and daunting at first, but a good challenge for me. It was tough learning the notes ... It didn’t take long to pick up.

Every song has its own difficulties. Some of them you wouldn't think would be hard, but you look at it and when you translate it from paper onto cello, you realize it is much harder than you initially thought.

There are a lot of things that are easy with playing the cello. I guess, just sitting down and being able to tune it and get ready to play is the easiest.

How did you keep your motivation up on distance learning days? It was kind of a self preservation thing. I didn’t want to get to the point where I would just stop everything. So, I pushed myself. Playing the cello through distance learning was a nice break from like staring at a computer screen for the majority of the day. I was able to get away from it. It was more like a privilege than something that was expected of me.

Goal this year? I really don’t have a goal this year. I’m just hoping that everything stays normal.

We are working on a group piece for the solo and ensemble contest called “Dance of the Tumblers.”

Dream job: My dream job is microbiology, specifically virology.

Favorite movie: “Pretty in Pink.”

Favorite TV show: “Golden Girls.”

Favorite book: “Pride and Prejudice.”

Favorite song: “Moonage Daydream” by David Bowie.

Favorite band: Either Duran Duran or Depeche Mode.

Favorite restaurant: Four Seas Buffet.

Favorite subject: English.

Perfect meal: Grilled chicken, lots of veggies and garlic mashed potatoes.

Biggest pet peeve: When people don’t tidy up the table before leaving a restaurant.

Groups you are involved in: I’m involved with BOLD girls and WeAre. The BOLD camp helps empower young women in the community and give them life tools. The WeAre Clinic provides sexual health tools for young people in the Brainerd lakes area and works to provide sexual education to schools in the area.

Hobbies: Running, baking and making jewelry.

Parens: Colleen and Kurt Kounkel, Brainerd.

JENNIFER KRAUS may be reached at jennifer.kraus@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5851. Follow me at www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl on Twitter.