Uncommon Talent: Cecilia Hiros’ musical journey brought her to Tri-C
April 20, 2017
Music has been a constant presence in Cecilia Hiros’ life. The 18-year-old Middleburg Heights resident had been taking vocal and piano lessons from an early age. However, music was never a passion of hers until she saw the Cleveland Orchestra play as a third-grader and met her perfect instrumental match.
“Prior to the concert, they had a special show with the harpist,” Hiros said. “When I saw the harp, I immediately wanted to play it. It has that very angelic sound; it is an instrument for soloists, and not many people play it. I thought it was a perfect fit for me musically.”
Hiros began taking harp lessons and quickly mastered it enough to play at weddings and other social functions. But she didn’t want to pursue the harp as merely a hobby – Hiros wanted to become a professional harpist. It was a dream she had to table for a while.
“I had to ask my parents for a long time, and they resisted,” Hiros said. “I understand why, but I knew deep down that I wanted to be a harpist.”
Like many parents, Hiros’ wanted her to pursue a practical career with high employment potential. That was the plan when she enrolled in the Postsecondary Enrollment Options (now College Credit Plus) program at Cuyahoga Community College in 2014, as a freshman at Berea-Midpark High School. She would continue her harp studies with her private teacher while using her formal schooling to prepare for a career in the medical field.
“Counselors and parents always want you to study for a job that is going to make you money after you graduate,” said Bernie Hiros, Cecilia’s mother. “The medical field has a lot of openings, so we all thought that would be a good area to pursue.”
As part of a family that values education highly, Hiros would have been a high achiever in her medical studies. But there was no denying Hiros’ musical talent – the harp was her calling. After one semester at Tri-C, she met Kira Seaton, assistant professor of music at the Western Campus. With Seaton’s guidance, the harp became her sole focus.
Hiros soon became one of the best young harpists in the region. She earned a spot as an alternate with the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra for the 2014-2015 school year and became the youth orchestra’s principal harpist for the 2015-2016 school year. She also plays with the Northern Ohio Youth Orchestra, based at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.
“It was somewhere during the time when I was auditioning for these orchestras that I really started to realize that I was good enough to pursue this as a career,” Hiros said. “That’s when I seriously began to think about what I was going to do after I was done with high school, after I had completed my studies at Tri-C.”
Hiros split her schooling between Tri-C and Berea-Midpark until the start of the current school year, when she devoted all of her school time to the CCP program. She graduated from Tri-C this past December with an Associate of Arts degree and continues to study with Seaton. But that will soon come to an end as well.
Hiros has four scholarship offers on the table from the Ohio State University, Baldwin Wallace University, the University of Michigan and the University of Cincinnati. She aims to make a decision in early May.
“She has been accepted into all of the schools, so it really comes down to financial considerations and the caliber of the program and teachers,” Bernie Hiros said. “They’re all great options, so you have to look very closely at which is the best fit for your own situation.”
But no matter where Hiros’ music career leads her, she is thankful for the foundation she was able to build at Tri-C.
“I was the student speaker at the annual CCP orientation meeting a few weeks ago, and my best advice was to befriend your teachers,” she said. “Talk with them personally and let them be mentors to you. I had the great fortune of having some really supportive teachers at Tri-C. They’ve each played an important role in launching my career.
“But you have to have the drive within yourself as well. I am the oldest of four, and two of my siblings are now in CCP, pursuing their own interests. We’re all very driven to succeed, we’re all very active in our educational pursuits, and that’s something that we were brought up with. It’s an honor to have my younger siblings following the same path.”