ALAMEDA -- Isabelle Brown-Lyden, 11, digs into her crab cakes at lunch time at Café Jolie before going back home to practice her cello. She practices every day, but it's more important now because she has a solo performance coming up March 17 at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Sitting next to her mother, Marcie Brown, founder and teacher of the Alameda Cello Academy, Brown-Lyden seems unfazed. Perhaps that's because she has been performing benefit concerts locally and out of state since she was 5, and has been placing in competitions, including the American Protégé Competition for piano and strings, which landed her the Carnegie Hall appearance. The completion drew applicants from more than 20 countries.

At age 7, Brown-Lyden won an opportunity to perform in the honors concert at the Colorado Suzuki Festival. She has also performed at Merkin Concert Hall in New York City. Last summer, she was chosen to play a solo at the Stanford Suzuki Institute and she has attended Suzuki festivals in Oregon and San Diego.

The Nea Community Learning Center fifth-grader said about her upcoming Carnegie solo, "I'm a little worried I'll bust a note or something, but I'm pretty confident."

She'll perform "Tarantella by Squire."

Her cello talents may be genetic, she said. Her mother has also performed on cello in large venues in New York City. She teaches cello, piano and violin at her academy.

The two may take a tour of Julliard School during their trip, hit a few Food Network restaurants and make a stop at the American Girl doll salon to get a new hairstyle for Brown-Lyden's doll.

Despite her musical success under her mother's tutelage, Brown-Lyden hasn't any current aspirations to head to Broadway to play for musical productions.

"Doing that every night would be tiring," she said.

Besides, she has a few ideas of what career path she may take, including working with animals and writing books. These days, she writes comic strips based on Biscuit, her 4-month-old golden retriever-poodle dog. In the comics, Biscuit's name is Billy Joe. She likes reading and playing games and takes figure skating lessons at the Oakland Ice Arena.

"It's one of the few sports I do besides playing with Biscuit," she said.

---