JAMES TEW, The News Sun
---- — KENDALLVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Like many dads, Nick Warren relishes any opportunity to spend time with his teenage daughter, but his daughter Kyra chose to connect with him in a unique way: the cello.
Nick, 50, and Kyra, 14, performed their first public cello duet at the St. John Lutheran School Showcase on March 7, then followed with a performance two days later at Noble County's Got Talent.
The duets offered Nick an opportunity to rekindle an interest he had set aside, one that began with his own father, Bob.
"My father was director of the orchestra in my hometown — South Haven, Mich. — and he was in charge of the strings program in the South Haven community," Nick told The News Sun (http://bit.ly/1hrVgda ). "All the kids in my family learned violin early on."
At age 10, Nick made the switch to cello to get out from the shadow of his older sister, Cheryl, who already was an accomplished violinist.
"I just couldn't walk in her footsteps, so I had to do something different, and it seemed cool," Nick said.
Nick continued to play through high school — Bob continued to teach him until he died in a car crash when Nick was 14 — but once out of college his work as an engineer and "just the busyness of life" got in the way. He took lessons for a couple years in his 20s before setting the cello aside.
It sat in the family's basement until last year, Kyra's seventh-grade year at St. John Lutheran School, when she had to choose an instrument to play.
"It was big and unique, and I thought it would be fun to do something that my dad did," Kyra said. "I wanted to be able to play with him and the rest of my family."
Nick began to help Kyra learn the cello and, in the process, rediscovered his own love for the instrument.
"It creates an opportunity to spend quality time in something we both enjoy doing. It's rekindled my love for playing," Nick said.
The cello also has become a passion for Kyra, according to her mother, Karen.
"I never have to say, 'Hey Kyra, did you practice?'" Karen said. "This doesn't seem like work to her."
Her interest led Kyra to propose to her parents that she use her savings to purchase her own cello, so Nick and Kyra could practice together and play duets. After some searching, Nick found a "fine, intermediate-level cello" on Craigslist for Kyra.
The pair played for family get-togethers — Kyra insists they take the cellos on vacation so they can play with Cheryl, who plays with the Mason (Mich.) Symphony and once accompanied Mannheim Steamroller — before playing in public for the first time at Showcase.
Their soon-after second performance came about when LouAnne Pillers, history teacher at St. John and president of the Common Grace board of directors, found out Nick and Kyra were performing at Showcase and asked if they also would play for Noble County's Got Talent.
Nick said one of the benefits of performing with Kyra is that it helped him get over the stage fright that plagued him in his youth.
"One of the key life lessons I've learned from my teenage daughter is to just get over the stage fright and enjoy music," he said.
Kyra said she also enjoys performing with her dad.
"It was kind of scary for the first time, but once it was over it was like, 'Yeah that was awesome,'" she said.
Nick and Kyra are scheduled to perform again Friday during a chili cook-off at First Christian Church in Kendallville.
Kyra plans for the cello to be a lifelong interest. She will audition to be part of Fort Wayne Philharmonic Youth Orchestra this fall.
"I would like to get into something like my aunt where I work at a full-time job, but on the side play with the orchestra for fun," she said.
Information from: The News-Sun, http://www.kpcnews.com
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