Arts and Entertainment

Young Bellevue pianist making her mark locally and around the world

Jila Dabestani
Jila Dabestani's first debut with an orchestra as a soloist was at age 13 when she performed Chopin's Concerto No.1 with the symphony orchestra Chiang Kai-Shek National Hall in Taipei, Taiwan.
— image credit: Chad Coleman/Bellevue Reporter

Jila Dabestani began playing piano before she knew how to read the music. At age two, Jila tagged along to her older sister's piano lessons. She listened to the flow of the music and taught herself to play "Mary Had a Little Lamb" by ear.

Today, Jila has moved onto more challenging pieces including Liszt's Piano Concerto No.1 as a soloist which she played at age 15 with Bellevue Philharmonic Orchestra and the Northwest Philharmonia Orchestra. She was a Seattle Young Artists Music Festival winner in 2008 and was featured with Seattle Symphony where she performed Beethoven's Concerto No.3.

"Because I began playing piano at such a young age I really fell in love with music," said Jila, who has studied under Bellevue pianist and teacher, Michi Hirata North for past 11 years. "I still get nervous before performances, but it's more of an excited nervous. I have always loved being on stage and performing for people."

Jila's first debut with an orchestra as a soloist was at age 13 when she performed Chopin's Concerto No.1 with the symphony orchestra Chiang Kai-Shek National Hall in Taipei, Taiwan. In 2007, she performed La Campanella by Liszt in front of 400 attendees of Seattleā€™s Downtown Rotary Club.

At just 16 years old, the Newport High School junior has already accomplished more then most could only dream of.

As a freshman in high school she was accepted into the University of Washington, but passed on the opportunity to enjoy her high school years with friends her age.

Next year, she will step into the role of lieutenant for her high school's drill dream, perform with the school's choir, swim laps on the swim team, and act as editor for the Feature section of her school's newspaper.

"I know my schedule seems a little overwhelming, but when I stay productive, I get a lot more accomplished," said a bubbly Jila. "I save my weekends for hanging out with my friends and just relaxing."

On Wednesday, Jila was one of several young volunteers in the Bellevue area to be selected at the 2009 Community Leadership Awards at City Hall. She is a member of Youth Link, a volunteer organization offering nationally-recognized programs and services to Bellevue teens. She has logged more than 600 hours of community service.

"Giving back to the community is very important to me and I want to share with other teens the same opportunities I've been given," she said.

This summer Jila is invited to perform the Liszt Concerto No.1 in Eb Major with the Japan-Taiwan Symphony Orchestra as guest soloist at the Musashino College of Music Concert Hall in Tokyo, Japan.

Lindsay Larin can be reached at 425.453.4602.

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