Top Teens 2011

Bethesda Magazine's 2011 Extraordinary Teen Awards.

(page 9 of 10)

The Violinist

Joshua Coyne

Senior, Winston Churchill High School

What sets him apart: The 18-year-old violinist from Potomac has opened for Grammy-winners, performed at the Kennedy Center, played for President Barack Obama and composed the score for Anne & Emmett, a critically acclaimed play about an imaginary conversation between Anne Frank and Emmett Till that toured nationally last year. 

Originally a ward of the state of Missouri, Joshua came from an abusive foster home when he was adopted as a toddler by Jane Coyne, director of the National PTA’s Reflections Program. One day she played some music for him, and “I was able to hum it back to her,” Joshua says. When she later took him to the symphony, “I was just completely mesmerized. And the next day I motioned to play the violin.” He was 2 years old.

Other accomplishments: He is first violin with the Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras’ philharmonic orchestra; was a gold medalist in the 2010 Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics; appears in Sonata Mulattica, a documentary about violinist George Bridgetower, based on the book by Pulitzer Prize-winner Rita Dove; plays viola, mandolin, sax, piano and guitar; and is currently composing his first ballet.

What others say: Former Secretary of Defense William Cohen met Joshua five years ago, when the young violinist performed at a conference sponsored by the World Affairs Council in Washington, D.C. “He was completely at ease before this worldly gathering,” says Cohen, whose wife, Janet Langhart Cohen, wrote Anne & Emmett. “I knew at that moment that Joshua was a rare talent who was destined to become a great performer.”

What his future holds: Joshua will attend a music conservatory, where he’ll focus on music composition and jazz violin. He hopes to compose for ballet, theater and ultimately film.

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