While many may have preconceived notions about national talent pageants, Adrienne Watkinson, Miss Maine 2008, will put the rumors to rest when she performs a violin concert at Studzinski Recital Hall on Saturday.

Watkinson, originally from Topsham, was urged to run for Miss America after Charlie Lane, owner of Maine Sound Stage, saw her performing in Brunswick in 2007. According to Watkinson, she laughed at the idea because it wasn't anything she'd thought of doing before. Lane urged her to consider Miss Maine, however, because the talent portion of both the Miss Maine and the Miss America pageants was a huge component of the competition. Considering her violin talent and the $10,000 scholarship awarded to the winner, Watkinson decided to give it a shot.

In her first time running in 2007, Watkinson received second runner up. In 2008, when she decided to run again, Watkinson won Miss Maine. She will use the scholarship to return to school to receive her masters in music performance at DePaul University School of Music in Chicago.

After winning Miss Maine, Watkinson has spent the obligatory year of community service performing on the violin in hospitals and nursing homes around Maine. Her community service was part of the platform of music awareness upon which she is running for Miss America. Specifically, she is attempting to show the benefits and necessity of music therapy.

"Music is so helpful for people who are sick," Watkinson said. In addition to her various performances around Maine, Watkinson also performs weekly at the Barbara Bush Children's Hospital.

The violin has always been an integral part of Watkinson's life. She began playing when she was eight years old, and after completing middle school at Mt. Ararat in Topsham, she attended high school at the Walnut Hill School for Performing Arts in Natick, Mass. While Watkinson was there, she played consistently in the New England Conservatory of Musical Orchestra program. After years of dedication, practice, and musical passion, Watkinson said that one of the most rewarding parts of being Miss Maine is her ability to influence and encourage future generations of young musicians.

"When I travel to schools I ask, 'How many of you are in orchestra and band?'" Watkinson said. "And when a lot of kids raise their hands I tell them that when I was there age, I was just one of not so many. Then, it wasn't the cool thing to do, it was just something I loved so I stuck with it. I want them to know that it's OK to be an outsider?you just have to be determined and practice. Because later in life, if you stick with it, it'll all come back to you."

Watkinson said that her experiences as Miss Maine have been unique. Learning to walk in heels and to engage in a 10-minute interview where contestants are questioned about current events, personal beliefs, and more philosophical questions was "challenging," Watkinson said.

"They really try to get to the core of you and see how 'with it' you are with the world around you. It's nothing I'd ever encountered before in the practice room," she added. "A lot of times pageants have a stereotype that it's a bunch of beauty queens. It's not just about beauty or the surface, it's about what's inside as well."

This is especially important for Miss America, who has to travel more than 25,000 miles each year and is constantly in the public eye.

"Miss America has many different hats," Watkinson said. "But her primary job is to talk to different groups about the Children's Miracle Network, an organization for which the Children's Hospital raises money."

In addition to this national platform, each Miss America contestant also has to run on a personal platform.

"I want to share the message as a musician of what music can bring to society," Watkinson said.

"Classical music is a very enriching and cultural possession that we have as a country," she added. "Unfortunately, though, we don't really value it the same way we value something like sports. It's important for people to appreciate classical music. It's not something that's dead. It's something that's alive and well and breathing and I think people can enjoy it."

Playing at Bowdoin is a unique opportunity for Watkinson.

"I'm not coming out as Miss Maine," she said. "I'm coming out as Adrienne, as a musician. This is a serious recital, which is important, because my personal aspiration is to be a symphony performer. It's something I really love."

Adrienne Watkinson will be performing at Kanbar Auditorium in Studzinski Recital Hall on Saturday, November 15 at 7:00 p.m.

She will be accompanied by pianist Henry Kramer, a guest performer who is a pianist at the Juilliard School in New York.