By Andrea Cassutt, Executive Director
Pink Martini performed last night at the Santa Fe Opera as a benefit for Kitchen Angels, and our community is abuzz with pictures and stories of how great it was to be there! Perhaps no one though, is buzzing quite as much as our own SFYSA Youth Philharmonic Violinist, Weston Keller, who performed a solo with the band!
Pink Martini describes itself thus: “If there was a house band at the United Nations in the 1960s, it would be us.” The band performs songs in around twenty different languages and tours throughout the world. In 2016, Pink Martini released its ninth studio album, Je dis oui! It features vocals from China Forbes, Storm Large, Ari Shapiro, fashion guru Ikram Goldman, civil rights activist Kathleen Saadat, and Rufus Wainwright. The album is the band’s happiest in years; it features 15 tracks spanning eight languages (French, Farsi, Armenian, Portuguese, Arabic, Turkish, Xhosa and English), and affirms the band’s 23-year history of global inclusivity and collaborative spirit.
Many of our local musicians, including two or our SFSYA staff, Carla Kountoupes and Dana Winograd played with the Santa Fe Symphony Strings in the performance, and lots of friends are sending pictures about how great it was to be in the audience. Social media is abuzz with the joy of this event! World class performers are not unusual in Santa Fe, and many of us have had amazing experiences of collaboration, making music, and fabulous performances here.
But last night was special in an extraordinary way for one of our students, Weston Keller, who plays violin in SFYSA Youth Philharmonic. Pink Martini is the favorite band of this father and son, Eric and Weston Keller, who have been going regularly together to see them since 2013. Weston has had a dream of playing with them, and even has his sights set on replacing violinist Nicholas Crosa in the band (once he retires)!
Last night, part of Weston’s dream came true when he played Concerto in G Minor, 3rd Movement: Allegro by A. Vivaldi with bandleader Thomas Lauderdale accompanying him on piano. He rehearsed with Thomas for the first time that day!
“I have done my best to foster Weston’s interest in music and personal development as a musician, ever since he first picked up a violin at age 5. To see him perform last night, not only playing so beautifully but also commanding the stage as he did, with such poise and joy, was one of my proudest moments as a father. I have a feeling there will be many more to come and I am thankful to the Santa Fe Youth Symphony Association for the part they have played and continue to play in Weston’s personal development as a musician and citizen of the world.”
According to others who were in attendance:
“Weston was a rock star!”
“He must be a prodigy. He was so cool and he played great!”
According to Weston, yesterday was the biggest day of his life so far. Not only did he play with Pink Martini, he started 7th grade at Desert Academy. All of us at SFYSA congratulate you Weston and wish you many more amazing days!
At SFYSA we are committed to making sure all of the youth in our programs have the opportunity to have “best days” working with amazing performers. This spring, we bring the Harlem String Quartet for a week-long residency to work with the kids in all of our 8 ensembles (including jazz, mariachi and orchestras). They will also be the guest artists for our 2018 Music For Everyone Showcase Concert on March 3, 2018 at the Lensic Performing Arts Center.
Today we celebrate music and musicians, a wonderful story of a father and son, seized opportunities, and the work of SFYSA to make amazing moments happen for all of our Santa Fe youth.
THE ELEMENTARY STRINGS TEAM!
SFYSA is excited to announce Haley Lovelace and Dorothy Bowers Wu as Associate Directors of the Elementary Strings program.
Haley will be focusing on program development, pedagogical oversight, and staffing. Dorothy will be working closely with Haley to coordinate the many logistical, organizational and communication aspects of the program.
Haley has re-joined SFYSA's Elementary Strings program because of her faith and belief in the program, as well as her desire to see it become a strong asset to SFYSA and the community. Dorothy is moving to Santa Fe from Monterey, CA where she was extensively involved with the youth symphony there, and developed their wind chamber program.
This is Haley Lovelace's sixth year with the SFYSA, where she's taught violin, viola, and cello Elementary Strings classes, conducted the PSO for its first years, as well as other various classes and private lessons. She comes from a Suzuki background, and holds a University Studies degree in String Pedagogy, Educational Psychology and Family Studies. She's very excited to be back, and to be taking on a role that allows her to support the students, parents, and teachers of Santa Fe. Haley's bio.
Dorothy recently relocated to Santa Fe after founding and directing the Woodwind Ensembles program for Youth Music Monterey from 2014-2107. A flutist by training, Dorothy uses coaching techniques that not only draw upon a twenty-year career of chamber music and orchestral performance, but additionally encourages and supports the development of musical literacy, ear-training, community outreach initiatives and team-based leadership skills in young musicians. Read Dorothy's full bio here.
by Andrea Cassutt, Executive Director
I am just back from vacation in the Northwest, where I enjoyed the beauty and wonder of that part of the country. I had great adventures and wonderful conversations. I was intrigued and amazed by how much my musical history and my musical life affected many aspects of my daily experience as I explored places and connected with people. I grew up playing the piano and then the clarinet, have sung now in choirs for more than 30 years, and as the Executive Director of SFYSA and previously through my work at Performance Santa Fe, my life is in many ways oriented around music even though I am not a professional musician. At SFYSA we believe in our vision of creating and nurturing a life long passion and appreciation of music and it is one of many, many benefits of participating with us. I was amazed how much my passion for music affected me everyday while on vacation, and I want to share with you a number of the moments I noticed, and how being part of a community of musicians makes the world a smaller one where one might discover friends anywhere.
My first awareness that I was listening so deeply to the world on my adventure was when I took the ferry from Anacortes to Orcas Island. I was amazed by the percussive, rhythmic nature of the waves on the hull of the boat. I found myself dancing and captivated. I share a 30 second video here:
Upon arriving on the island, I discovered the Chamber Music festival was happening. Someone in a shop directed me to the bookstore to inquire about schedule and tickets. As you walk into the bookstore, the display that greets you is focused on music – playing it, the elements of music, and the extensive research that shows many ways we are affected by music in our lives and development. It turns out the owner of the bookstore is a flautist. Once a musician, always a musician I think. Music touches our lives differently forever.
The following day I road my bike to the performance center to buy a ticket. Through an amazing series of events, I connected with one of the performing musicians there a day early, whom I'd never met, but with whom I share a mutual musical friend. We ended up taking a bike ride together, sharing great conversation over appetizers, and as a result of that connection, I now had an "in" with other musicians, organizers and audience at the festival concert the following evening.
There were many moments when sounds, music or silence became the entire focus of my awareness. Here are a few more. There was the lapping water on the shore one morning, the falling water of the river...
and the sound and silence during hikes in the gorgeous Moran State Park.
It was on one of those hikes in Moran State Park, that I realized fully my strange, musical reference point and fascination with the sounds of the natural world. I walked right through a spider web with my face. “Eeew” was my first response and then I thought of the potentially cacophonous “sound” I might have made for the spider, having read this amazing article and watched this video.
Admittedly, my solo travel on this trip left me available in an amazing way to interact intimately with each moment. I am so glad to have had this reminder that sound and silence are all around us, there in our daily lives, as the elements of music. My travels reminded me that music adds magic to the way we experience the world.
MEET OUR NEW MARIACHI DIRECTOR!
We are delighted to welcome Santiago Romero to the SFYSA team. Santiago has extensive experience teaching youth, already knows students and teachers in our Mariachi program, and has been playing Mariachi music professionally for the last 16 years. Santiago is the director of the local "Mariachi Sonidos del Monte," and comes to us with great enthusiasm to work with our youth Mariachi ensembles.
Santiago Romero is a professional musician and the musical director for Mariachi Sonidos del Monte. He’s performed with Mariachi groups in Mexico, Texas, Colorado and New Mexico and once in Disney World with world-renowned Mariachi Cobre. After teaching guitar for 3 years with Mariachi Espuelas de Plata in Las Cruces, NM, he accepted the Artistic Director position and led the organization for 2 additional years. In 2005 he was the first appointed state representative of Mariachi music with the New Mexico Music Commission by Governor Bill Richardson. When he’s not performing or teaching music, you’ll find him fishing, hiking or hunting in the mountains of northern New Mexico. Santiago Romero and Mariachi Sonidos del Monte recently completed their first album titled, El Principio, and were nominated for 5 categories from both the New Mexico Hispanic Music Awards and the New Mexico Music Awards. He and members of Mariachi Sonidos del Monte are currently preparing original music for their second Mariachi album.
Thank you to everyone who donated!! Without you would could not do this work. We are delighted and gratified by comments from our supporters, who talk about the importance of music education for youth and the gap we fill in meeting community needs:
My son is a professional classical musician who began his musical journey in a youth symphony.
A beautiful and worthy cause
Click to sign up for blog updates!
Our Mission is to inspire and engage the youth of Northern New Mexico's multicultural communities through excellent music education, the guidance of music professionals, and performance opportunities from small ensemble to full orchestra in Jazz, Mariachi and Orchestra.