ANCHORAGE - In sixth grade, Bryson Andres followed a crush as she headed into orchestra class. A few days later he lost interest in her and become smitten with a new passion - the violin.
Known locally as the violin guy, Andres is so dedicated to his music that he plays his violin until the wee hours of the morning, takes it with him to the grocery store and otherwise experiences life with his music by his side.
He sparked neighborhood interest in the violin by practicing at home with the window open. He inspires howling standing ovations at talent shows and draws crowds with his playing at Anchorage Market and Festival.
"He plays what he feels, he puts himself into the music and that is what really connects with people," said Petr Bucinsky, owner of Petr's Violin Shop.
Andres was using a school district violin when Bucinsky met him, but after hearing him play, Bucinsky worked out a payment plan so Andres could have his own violin and even sponsored a few private lessons. Andres returned the favor by helping in the shop, but Bucinsky said his real talent is in improvisation, not instrument repair.
"He isn't afraid to go places with music that other people don't really go." Bucinsky said. "He has a gift for writing and composing with his own style of doing things."
In high school, Andres said his sole interest was attending orchestra class.
"I would get through my other classes only to be able to continue to play in orchestra," he said.
His exceptional talent was put to use as a soloist and assistant instructor of sorts.
"He was the pied piper of orchestra class," said Gabrielle Willis, West High orchestra instructor and Andres' teacher for four years. "He would run improvisational jam sessions in class and really get the other students excited about playing."
Besides the jam sessions, Andres would share his skills by working with fellow students to help them improve their ability.
"He played in the orchestra, but he wanted to be free, he wanted to be a soloist," said Ayesha Malik, a friend of the family.
After Andres graduated from West this past spring, he started to use a loop pedal, a device that allows musicians to record themselves and play the track back while performing another complementary piece.
"I would be playing and wish there were three of me," Andres said.
Andres often posts videos of his performances on his YouTube page, and viewers gush with positive feedback.
Andres signed with a local management company and played at the Yes Music Festival and several talent shows. He doesn't have any concrete plans for where he wants to go with his talent. Right now he's just looking to share his passion for the violin with the community.