CHAMPAIGN — Central High School freshman Pierre Viallant isn't yet a professional musician, but he'll accomplish the distinction of playing at New York City's Carnegie Hall next February.
Viallant is a cellist and intends to become a professional some day.
He'll travel to New York as a finalist in the Honors Orchestra for the 2012 American High School Honors Performance Series.
Viallant said his school orchestra conductor, John Currey, nominated him, and he sent a recording in for judging.
Though he was selected as a finalist, in New York, he'll have to compete among the other cellists for the order of their seats. They'll spend four days rehearsing and play a Saturday-night concert at Carnegie Hall.
"I'm excited," Viallant said. "I know that's a pretty big place to play. It will be pretty cool to play there."
Viallant started playing cello as a 5-year-old and now studies with Hans Joergen Jensen and Brandon Vamos, his uncle from Champaign. He practices up to three hours a day, said his mom, Kim Hubbard.
"They make him work his butt off," Hubbard said of her son's teachers.
Vamos said musical talent and work ethic have both contributed to Viallant's success.
"When he plays, I think he has something to say," Vamos said. "He's an interesting kid, with an interesting personality. There's something kind of unique about him. He cares about other people."
Viallant will also be featured on Chicago radio station WFMT, on a show called "Introductions."
While Viallant said he's looking forward to playing at such an esteemed venue, he's also looking forward to spending several days living in a hotel with other musicians.
"I also get to miss a week of school, so that will be pretty cool," Viallant said.