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Student violinist plays with The Who

Olivia Scheidt in front of a The Who poster
Courtesy Aga Kowalsky

Violinist Olivia Scheidt (Col ’22) had been performing for only 10 minutes when her E string broke. Not only had that never happened to her in a performance before, but this time it was in front of thousands of fans—and onstage with the legendary band The Who.

Without time to replace the string, Scheidt says, “I wound up just shifting everything up onto the A string. … [I felt] a little panic at first, but then I just went with the flow” until the orchestra took a break. 

Thousands packed the May concert at Jiffy Lube Live amphitheater in Bristow, Virginia—the largest audience of the young musician’s career. “I didn’t see a single empty seat,” she says. “Which is just insane.”

Olivia Scheidt, left, and former instructor Aga Kowalsky pause during The Who’s sound check. Courtesy Olivia Scheidt

Scheidt’s former violin instructor had invited her to play in the concert’s orchestra. After only three days to learn more than 60 pages of music, Scheidt joined the instructor and about 45 other local professional and amateur musicians. At age 19, she was the youngest musician on stage that evening. 

Scheidt found herself seated only feet away from Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend and Zak Starkey. During the band’s sound check, she says, “I could see every single string vibration, every single note they play[ed]. And it sent shivers through me.”

After the amphitheater filled and the band came onstage to perform, the crowd erupted. Scheidt says she could feel the vibrations in her seat “from everyone cheering and stomping their feet.”

“I’ve done some cool things musically,” Scheidt says, “but this experience will be hard, if not impossible, to top.”