Lutgen Enjoying Violin-Playing Career Following CGT Victory

Although she hasn’t even begun her high school career yet, Elizabeth Lutgen is riding high following her landmark first-place finish in the Chautauqua’s Got Talent competition at the Spire Theater earlier this year.

In April, the self-taught violinist became the first instrumentalist to win the annual regional talent competition in its eight-year existence after turning in five weeks of entertaining performances of several modern, pop-oriented songs in which she played to a backing track — which earned her an $800 cash prize.

After winning the competition, Lutgen, now a 13-year-old eighth-grader at Jefferson Middle School, has garnered a reputation for herself as a talented performer and interpreter of music. In doing so, she has redefined the versatility of her instrument among her peers and, subsequently has seen more opportunities to play coming her way.

“When I was on the stage before the winner was announced I was not thinking about the money, I was thinking about the name and to be known as the first instrumentalist to win,” Lutgen said. “I also wanted to show that violin is fun, and not just for classical music.”

Lutgen said she gained a good amount of confidence in her playing ability and stage presence as a result of her victory, and has now become known among her classmates as “the girl who plays the violin.”

“One day in school a young girl came up to me and told me that she wanted to be just like me. That was really amazing,” she said.

Lutgen began learning violin when she was in fifth grade. She said she knew from the start that she wanted to learn a stringed instrument because her father was a guitarist and her grandfather also played the fiddle.

“I enjoy a lot about the violin,” she said. “One thing is that you can learn a lot from it. You can learn to play a lot of different instruments if you play the violin, such as viola and mandolin. Also, you can play a lot of different styles of music on a violin.”

Prior to her participation in the 2017 installation of Chautauqua’s Got Talent, Lutgen hadn’t had many opportunities to perform outside of school. She said she initially heard about the competition from a friend and figured she would give it a go, thereby allowing herself the opportunity to perform solo in a public setting.

“I just figured I’d go in for an audition, and now here I am,” she said, immediately following her victory in April. “I’m actually very proud of myself for how far I’ve come since I started learning violin.”

Lutgen said she currently performs regularly at her church, and is now planning to audition for the Chautauqua Regional Youth Symphony Orchestra. She has also been distributing business cards at locations around Jamestown, and is accepting offers for playing opportunities.

To contact Lutgen about a performance, contact Lutgen at 450-3477 or