State High graduate organizes classical benefit concert

Raina Arnett, a 2015 State College Area High School graduate, is performing on Saturday to benefit Heifer International’s Empower Women Movement.
Raina Arnett, a 2015 State College Area High School graduate, is performing on Saturday to benefit Heifer International’s Empower Women Movement. Photo provided

A music recital benefiting Heifer International’s Empower Women Movement will be taking place on Saturday at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Centre County. Organized by State College native Raina Arnett, the concert is intended to showcase some classical musical talent while also highlighting a terrific social cause.

“I believe classical music is something that everyone can enjoy, no matter your age, background, occupation or knowledge of the subject,” Arnett said. “I’ve played on the Young Artists Concert Series at the UUFCC before and each time I like to raise money for a different cause supporting young women around the world. After some research, I decided to support the Heifer International’s Empower Women campaign this year.”

Dedicated to ending world hunger and poverty with a conservationist slant, Arnett is delighted to be doing her part in aiding Heifer International’s mission and helping young women thrive around the globe.

“It should be a really fun evening with high quality music that’s all for a great cause,” Arnett said. “Hopefully we will be able to help a lot of people through this recital.”

Arnett has been playing the violin for almost her entire life. With dozens of concerts and competitions under her belt, including performances with the Nittany Valley Symphony and the Williamsport Symphony, she has come a long way since pestering her mother to let her pick up the instrument.

“I started playing violin when I was 4 years old,” Arnett said. “I’m not sure what first drew me to it, but I remember walking around my house with two straws pretending to play them like a violin. This went on for about a month and a half before my mom finally gave in and got me a real one.”

A 2015 State College Area High School graduate, Arnett is now a freshman studying violin performance at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. She is excited to be performing in State College again in front of the people who have helped to make her dreams of being a musician come true.

“I’m lucky to have attended State College Area High School, I had some incredible teachers there,” Arnett said. “I have also trained with Jim Lyon, a professor of violin at Penn State all through high school. I wouldn’t be anywhere near the musician I am today without him.”

For Saturday’s performance, Arnett will be playing alongside her longtime musical partner and pianist Svetlana Rodionova. The level of comfort that Arnett has with Rodionova is unparalleled and will help enhance the selections that they perform.

“Svetlana is one of my favorite musicians to play with,” Arnett said. “When we play together, I feel completely comfortable making an interpretive decision different from what we’ve rehearsed because I know she’ll be right there with me. It’s really easy for us to play off of one another’s energy. Since we’ve played together so many times before, I know it will make Saturday’s show all the more enjoyable for everyone involved.”

Featuring selections from Beethoven, Grieg, Tchaikovsky and others, Arnett is excited to be performing pieces from such luminaries and hopes that those in attendance share her enthusiasm for their timeless work.

“I want to be performing something that is approachable to everyone, whether you go to concerts all the time or if this is your first,” Arnett said. “Classical music is able to connect to people and by definition is meaningful and long-lasting. It’s rooted in tradition dating back hundreds of years, and it’s kind of awe-inspiring that it’s still able to evoke a powerful response so many years later. People are drawn to classical music because we want to feel something authentic and classical music provides a means for that.”


  • What: Raina Arnett performs in concert to benefit Heifer International’s Empower Women Movement
  • When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
  • Where: Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Centre County, 780 Waupelani Drive Extension, State College
  • Info: 237-7605, www.uufcc.com