Violinist Prodigy to Perform at UTM


Iris Shepherd

Dr. Dawson Hull

MARTIN - Iris Shepherd, the 16-year-old violin prodigy from Henry, will present her Northwest Tennessee concert debut on Monday, October 11, at 7:30 p.m. in the Blankenship Recital Hall in the Fine Arts Building of The University of Tennessee at Martin. She will be performing a variety of challenging repertoire from Bach, Paganini, and Sibelius, with a little bluegrass thrown in for good measure. A student of Cornelia Heard at Vanderbilt University, Shepherd made her solo orchestral debut with the Georgia Philharmonic at age 12 and has since soloed with the Fairbanks Alaska Symphony Orchestra and the Vanderbilt Curb Youth Symphony. Most recently, she was chosen to perform on NPR’s nationally-syndicated radio program “From the Top.”

Shepherd is the 2021 MTNA national winner in senior strings. She has won the Miami Symphony’s Heart Out Piano and Strings Competition, the Curb Youth Symphony Concerto Competition, the Tennessee American Strings Teachers’ Association Competition, the Delta Symphony Concerto Competition, and is a two-time prize winner in the Hilton Head Orchestra Youth Concerto Competition.

Though her first love is classical music, she made her Grand Ol’ Opry stage debut during the summer of 2016, performing a featured solo as part of the Fine Arts Summer Academy, and won the James G. “Bobo” Driver National Championship fiddle contest in 2017.

Her collaborative pianist is Dr. Dawson Hull from Memphis. He holds a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Memphis, a Master’s degree from Peabody Conservatory, and a Bachelor’s Degree from Samford University. He has appeared as soloist with the Paducah Symphony Orchestra, Delta Symphony Orchestra, Jackson (TN) Symphony Orchestra, Samford University Orchestra, Southeastern Chamber Orchestra, the Ocmulgee Symphony Orchestra, the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra, and the University of Memphis. Dr. Hull is the pianist for the 80 member Tennessee Men’s Chorale and is the Associate Pastor of Instrumental Worship Arts at Germantown Baptist Church.

The concert is free and open to the public.