Sounds of solidarity

Violin in hand, sophomore Rohan Shah serves his community through inspiring, uplifting performances


Macy Beal

GIVING BACK. Eyes on his music, sophomore Rohan Shah practices with Chamber Collective. With the guidance of orchestra teacher Rozalyn Torto, he is currently organizing performances at hospitals and retirement homes. Rohan hopes to move and inspire his audience with each performance.

Max Garfinkel, Business Manager

A woman in a retirement home hears the sweet sound of a classical violin solo while she plays cards in the rec room.

She pauses from her game for a second to appreciate the sound of the bow dancing on the violin strings. She looks up to see Rohan Shah serenading the room with classical music.

Through volunteer efforts, Rohan Shah uses his musical talents to help others and is looking for ways to involve more student musicians and help brighten the lives of more people.

Rohan, a sophomore, is currently organizing a way for his fellow performers in the U-High Chamber Collective to perform at the Montgomery Place Retirement Community, as well University of Chicago’s Comprehensive Cancer Ward.

Rohan said he is attempting to schedule a concert in the hospital soon.

Service through music is not new to Rohan. He has performed solo at retirement homes before. When he lived in Burr Ridge, he played at a retirement home close to his house.

“A woman came up to me and told me that she was really moved by my performance,” he said. “I was really touched by that, and that really inspired me to keep on going to these areas to perform.”

Since moving to the city, he has not been able to continue service with the same frequency.

He explained that organizing the chamber collective will allow him to perform more.

Rohan has been playing the violin since he was five  years old. He was first encouraged by his mother but has since found his own motivation and performs in school ensembles.

“It was my own thing after a certain age,” he explained. “She used to nag me to practice, but at some point it became natural to practice on my own.”

Rohan’s orchestra teacher, Rozalyn Torto, has been teaching him since he came to Lab as a freshman and oversees his community outreach.

“It’s not just violin playing where his talents lie,” she said. “He’s willing to do the work to create a vision for the Chamber Collective.”

She explained he is very passionate about the violin and the chamber collective and has put a lot of time into it, but wants to expand upon the purpose of the collective.

“He wants connect to and help people through music,” she said. “It’s a really selfless kind of commitment.”

Annette Kim has known Rohan since they were in middle school together. They currently perform with Chamber Collective together and have been music stand partners in the past.

Although he is a very skilled violin player, he is not too proud to slow down and help his orchestra peers during practice.

“He always makes sure to stop and help people if they are struggling,” Annette said.

She described him as a strong member of the Chamber Collective and as someone who contributes to their efforts to perform outside of Lab.

“He goes out there and takes initiative for us and finds places for us to perform,” she said. “He loves the music and wants to share it with others.”