- Associated Press - Saturday, January 31, 2015

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) - Liesl Schoenberger Doty started playing the violin at age 2 and quickly established a reputation as Cape Girardeau’s musical wunderkind. She’s now an artist in a Grammy-nominated Boston orchestra, but still relishes her Midwestern roots.

Schoenberger told the Southeast Missourian (https://bit.ly/1zGqifp ) that Cape Girardeau’s rich arts heritage played a big role in her development.

“Art changed this city, and I grew up feeling so supported and loved in this community,” Schoenberger said. “Even in my 30s, I still feel a tremendous amount of support. Faith, spirituality and art all feed the soul.”

Schoenberger recalled how her parents would often drive her 600 miles round trip for violin lessons. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in violin performance from Indiana University before entering the New England Conservatory for her doctorate.

Schoenberger now performs with the orchestra, A Far Cry, whose most recent album, “Dreams & Prayers,” earned a Grammy nomination for best chamber music/small ensemble performance.

In an odd quirk, Schoenberger didn’t actually play on the nominated recording. She had the opportunity to record with the orchestra or join a tour that would take her close enough to Cape Girardeau for a visit. She chose home.

“I knew that would happen,” she joked, rolling her eyes. “I just knew they would record it when I wasn’t there and it would get nominated for a Grammy.”

Schoenberger met her husband, Karl Doty, playing at Carnegie Hall. They were married at the old St. Vincent’s Catholic Church in Cape Girardeau.

“The rest of the orchestra played at the wedding,” she said. “And I made sure they got a good taste of Missouri; we had chicken and dumplings, kettle beef, stuff like that.”

A favorite performance by the orchestra wasn’t in an elaborate music hall, but behind prison walls. Schoenberger said the orchestra played to a packed crowd at a Texas prison’s chapel, one of five prison sites where the group has performed.

“It was really intimidating at first, you know?” she said. But eventually musicians were no longer concerned about what any of the men had done to end up there, she said, and the inmates were no longer as confined. Both parties were transported momentarily by the music.

“Their emotional reactions were just so severe, direct; they were naked, really,” she said.

Later this year, Schoenberger will get a chance to play close to home. The orchestra is scheduled to perform this fall at Southeast Missouri State University’s River Campus.

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Information from: Southeast Missourian, https://www.semissourian.com

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