By Kim Hilsenbeck
As barely more than a toddler, Tiffany Hoxie, who will be 12 in January, started playing the violin.
She had two family mentors to lead the way, mom Deidra and sister Tabitha Hoxie, both of whom played violin.
These days, Tiffany now plays the viola — it’s larger than a violin — with the Starlight Symphony Orchestra, a nonprofit comprised of all volunteer musicians spanning a wide range of ages and backgrounds. Concerts are always free and open to the public.
Members of the orchestra hail from all around the Central Texas area including Wimberley, Dripping Springs, San Marcos, Austin, Kyle and Buda. Tiffany and her family are from south Austin. The orchestra performs under the direction of conductor David Oertel.
Tiffany started playing with the group when she was eight.
Tabitha Hoxie also played in the Starlight Orchestra before heading off to college in San Antonio.
“She was assistant concert master and second chair first violin,” Tiffany said.
Tiffany and Tabitha recruited their mom to join as well.
“It’s a great way to spend time with daughters,” Deidra said recently.
Is her whole family involved with music?
“My mom, my sister and I are musical,” Tiffany said. “My dad supports us.”
Tiffany practices her viola about three or more hours a day.
Well, she’s supposed to, but she said since it’s concert season, “I’m not practicing quite that much.”
The Starlight Symphony Orchestra performs live orchestral music four times a year. Practices are held each week at the Hays CISD Performing Arts Center (PAC), which offers the space at no charge to the organization.
“That is huge,” Ian Green, the group’s facilities coordinator – also a volunteer position – said.
Something else fairly huge is that Tiffany started composing her own music.
A chamber piece called “Dance of the Weather” was inspired, Tiffany said, by a summer thunderstorm.
“That doesn’t happen a lot,” she said.
“Dance of the Weather” was her first foray into musical composition. She and four others performed her music at the Hays CISD PAC in November.
How did it feel to be on stage playing music she wrote?
“Amazing,” she said. “It was amazing to hear what I wrote come alive in front of people watching me play it.”
Tiffany is now composing an orchestral piece that she hopes will be unveiled in a few months.
The Starlight Symphony Orchestra has a few other young musicians, but Green said the organization would like to expand its reach into local schools and find other young talent.
An annual music scholarship is one way Green said the orchestra works to attract more students. The group also works in conjunction with Hill Country school districts to augment their music curriculum with mentoring and music appreciation programs.