Performing with Candy Carson

Republican candidate Ben Carson’s wife. The Secret Service. Junior Hannah Kawate’s duet with Candy Carson was unlike any other one she’s ever performed.

Kawate participated in a violin duet for entertainment purposes with Candy at one of candidate Carson’s campaign fundraisers on Friday, Dec. 4 at Fountain Valley.

“I was really excited, and I couldn’t believe it. I think it was unexpected [and] pretty exciting to have the opportunity to play with someone like her. [Candy] had been playing for a long time, and she’s very skilled,” Kawate said.

Due to the short notice the event was planned on and the opportunity to reach out to the community, a high school student representative was required. Kawate was notified on Monday, Nov. 29 by band and orchestra director Corey Wicks, giving her only one week to practice and memorize the first movement of Bach’s Double Violin Concerto.

“I expected a lot of things to go wrong because I was rushing to learn the piece [so] it was pretty stressful. I think it was [also] the week we had an orchestra concert so I was just practicing during our break time,” Kawate said. “But it’s a pretty popular song–I hear it on KUSC [radio station] and in concerts, so it wasn’t hard to pick up.”

The United States Secret Service ran a background check in order to ensure that Kawate was not a threat to candidate Carson and his family. On the day of the performance, the Secret Service quickly checked through her violin case and music binder using a metal detector.

“I did not expect the experience with [the] Secret Service to be very pleasant. [But] it was not nearly as invasive as I thought it would be,” Kawate said.

Once she entered, Kawate practiced with Candy for 30-45 minutes before finally performing their duet after candidate Carson’s speech.

“The synchronization and rhythm are varied from the first and second violin part. So if one person messes up, it’s very easy to get lost, and it’s difficult to find your way back,” Kawate said. “I was just focusing on remembering the fingering because once I forget the fingering, I mess up the notes. And if I forget the notes, I forget the rhythm.

After the performance, Kawate socialized and dined with the rest of the attendees at the event, which raised funds for candidate Carson’s campaign.  

“I thought it was interesting that all of the people who attended have so much faith in Dr. Carson’s ability to run our country,” Kawate said. “I also found Mrs. Carson to be a very sweet and down-to-earth person. She was very easy to talk to.”

Despite Kawate’s doubts and the little amount of time given to learn the piece, the performance went smoother than she expected.

“If I had the chance [to go back], I would probably just try to calm myself down because I was pretty nervous,” Kawate said. “The whole experience was pretty surreal–I just felt really honored that I had the chance to play with such an important woman.”

By Angela Cao, Staff writer

Photo and video courtesy of Hannah Kawate