SFYSA Mariachi Estrella was a festive hit performing at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Holiday Party hosted by First Citizen's Bank. This was an exciting opportunity for SFYSA to be seen in the community and recognized as a resource for youth and music education in many musical genres.
Thanks to Daniel Quat Photography we have fabulous images. Executive Director, Andrea Cassutt, came out for her first event of the holidays.
*click photos to view large*
The Jazz ensembles kicked off the winter concert series on Friday, December 1, at Santa Fe Prep. This year the Jazz Rep Orchestra program included a medley of Disney tunes, and the jazz vocals of Joshua Waltman and Amelia Mazzentini-Clark. Jazz Performance improvised an esoteric version of Chick Corea's "Sea Journey," successfully captained by Johnathan Ware. Both groups combined for a rousing version of our new theme song, "Watermelon Man." We’re excited to keep getting the word out and grow these groups in numbers and reputation! Below are photos of the groups rehearsing with Jazz Director Chris Ishee.
Photos: Artotems Co.
On Saturday we moved to the Scottish Rite Temple for the remainder of the weekend. This was a new venue for our students and provided a wonderful look at history and a fresh background for SFYSA students who are used to performing at the St. Francis Auditorium.
With record enrollment in the Elementary Strings program at our new school, Amy Biehl, we had a wonderful spread of students from across the city perform with us for the first time. Each level played beautifully together, and we are all very proud! Special thanks goes to our wonderful teachers. Christine Chen, who has been with us for 6 years, and two new teachers Sage Barton and Rodrigo Pessoa. The students are very lucky to have them! "I look forward with excitement and joy to what's next for our students in the spring semester!" - Haley Lovelace, ES Co-Director.
Saturday evening was the first formal concert for our new SFYSA Mariachi Director Santiago Romero, and it was a great success! For many students in Mariachi Garibaldi, the winter 2017 concert was particularly important, as it was the first time they'd performed in front of an audience. Performing live helps to link how classroom time and lessons relate to the performance piece and why it’s so important practice. For many, this was a big weekend for overcoming stage fright and developing faith in themselves. Several Garibaldi students also sang for the first time. "You can see the immediate effects on their self-esteem," Mr. Romero shared, "all the kids sang and they felt supported."
A highlight for the advanced group, Mariachi Estrella, was stretching to perform choruses in two and three-part harmony as an ensemble. Mr. Romero explained that one of the current goals for this advanced ensemble is to support the students and build their confidence to perform on their own -- without instructors -- and to work on memorizing performance pieces. We know they are on their way!
Photos: Dorothy Bowers-Wu, ES Co-Director
Prelude String Orchestra students played beautifully at the Winter Concert! They performed 4 pieces, including Pachelbel’s famous Canon in D - everything in 3 part harmony. No easy feat for these beginning students. They watched and listened like pros. Go PSO! New PSO conductor, Carla Kountoupes, "was thrilled for [her] inaugural concert with SFSYA. [She] feels so fortunate to be part of such an amazing community organization that touches so many families in Santa Fe."
Sunday in the Scottish Rite Temple was all Orchestras! We started with a joint performance of the Intermezzo String Orchestra and Youth Philharmonic.
The Intermezzo String Orchestra performed for the first time under the baton of Elizabeth Young, who we are so glad to have on our Artistic Team. She brought together a wide range of experience and ages to perform wonderfully from a Baroque beginning, through an arrangement of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, and finishing with the very festive Dance of the Tumblers! After an intermission to reset the stage, the Youth Philharmonic was led in performance by Ryan Finn, another new member of our artistic team! Finn’s students played marvelously and they all enjoyed the beauty of the venue. Mr. Finn was especially proud of how the students performed Mozart's Symphony no. 36, “The Linz.” ISO and YP came together to finish the concert, playing a celebratory holiday medley.
We finished our winter concert series with the Youth Symphony Orchestra, under the guidance of William Waag, who is also our Director of Orchestras.
The concert included Keenan McDonald's Marimba Concerto, which was well received. This was the the first time, during Mr. Waag's tenure, that a percussion instrument was featured in a concerto, and SFYSA’s new flute choir, coached by Dorothy Bowers-Wu, also performed in concert for the first time. Mr. Waag remarks that "the YSO ensemble is getting larger, and has its most robust sound since I came to Santa Fe. It's exciting."
Photos: Artotems Co.
Finally, SFYSA Operations Assistant, Susan Brown, who is now into her second year on staff, shared her experience of the concerts. “This was the first time I have heard all the ensembles in concert and I can't tell you how impressed I am with the talent and hard work I observed. I would like to thank all the parent volunteers as well. Their help at these events is so important; we couldn't put on these concerts without them. On a personal note, it was a pleasure to meet the families and put faces with names.”
All in all it was a grand success and fantastic finale to our fall semester!
For the first time in its more than 20 year history, Santa Fe Youth Symphony Association (SFYSA) students came together and performed in a collaborative spring musical showcase on Tuesday, April 25th at The Lensic Performing Arts Center! This 90-minute concert featured students from the Jazz, Mariachi, and Orchestra programs, highlighted the excellence of students and staff, and was a wonderful opportunity to introduce ourselves to the Santa Fe Community.
The “Music for Everyone” showcase served to inaugurate the inclusive phrase as SFYSA’s new tagline. For almost 23 years, SFYSA has made a place for all young musicians ages 7 to 18 by expanding performance and instruction opportunities beyond orchestra to include jazz and mariachi.
The jazz ensemble kicked off the momentous night which featured various cross-ensemble and professional collaborations.
Part of the magic of the night was witnessing SFYSA students share their personal stories about their inspiration to start playing an instrument and how SFYSA has created a community for them as young musicians.
Youth Philharmonia and Youth Symphony Orchestras performed "Pavane" by Gabriel Faure with jazz quartet Andy Kingston, piano; Dave Anderson, soprano saxophone; Jon Gagan, bass and John Trentacosta, drums.
The Santa Fe Youth Symphony said goodbye to two wonderful conductors, Richard Snider and Karles McQuade, who dedicated many years to the success of the SFYSA.
The Mariachi Estrella ensemble collaborated with the Youth Symphony Orchestra in an homage to the late Juan Gabriel, world class pop and Spanish music master who donated to the SFYSA Mariachi program just before his untimely death in August 2016.
Intermezzo String Orchestra students celebrated their final performance with conductor Karles McQuade with a world premier of "Zozobra" a commissioned piece by local composer Monica Demarco.
For El Sueno de la Munequita, the Intermezzo String Orchestra collaborated with young dancers Grace Alexander, Flynn-Bella Ericson, Gigi Kalangis and the Ortiz Middle School Guitar Orchestra, directed by SFYSA Mariachi Director, Jesus Gachupin.
SFYSA Jazz and Mariachi ensembles performed for delighted El Castillo residents on Sunday afternoon (March 12).
El Castillo is a continuing care retirement community in downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico,
The Winter Concert weekend kicked off the Friday of December 2 with the Jazz Concert at the Santa Fe Prep Driscoll Auditorium. Both the Jazz Essentials and Jazz Performance groups showcased their talent at the concert. Several students in both groups, performed using different instruments throughout the concert, exhibiting the student’s firm grasp and understanding of the structure and concept of each piece played. A few students sang, some doing it for the first time in front of an audience! Behind the scenes in preparation for the concert, all students contributed their ideas on the different arrangements performed.
Concert photos by Artotems Co. Click to view larger images.
Elementary Strings and Mariachi performed on Saturday, December 3 at the St. Francis Auditorium. According to ES Director, Sarah Gachupin, “the greatest feat for the Elementary Strings students was that they had never played with the other schools in the program but were able to come together with a 45-minute rehearsal and play amazingly well together.” Students also went with the flow when they had to change a couple of the notes at rehearsal.
The Mariachi Concert featured folk classics as well as some modernized arrangements of mariachi music featuring a significant crop of new students in the Mariachi Garibaldi group. The beginner students are already making progress and shaping up to be great future additions to the advanced group. Many of the Mariachi Estrella students have been part of the group for as long as 9 years! Mariachi Director, Jesus Gachupin remarks: “The level of the group has increased and the energy in rehearsals is exciting. Estrella students have always had a great level of talent but our cohesiveness as a group has solidified even more this year. I feel we’re a little mariachi family.” The group was accompanied by director Jesus Gachupin, violin instructor Gabe Tafoya, trumpet instructor Emily Maestas, and Guitarron parent volunteer, Steven Montano.
The Orchestras Concert took place on December 4, also at the St. Francis Auditorium where Intermezzo, Youth Philharmonia, and the Youth Symphony Orchestra groups all performed.
According to conductor, Karles McQuade, “the greatest challenge Intermezzo faced this semester was preparing and performing the tenor chorus "Wachet Auf" from JS Bach's Cantata no. 140. Nearly 6 minutes long, this work is double the standard length that Intermezzo usually performs.” In addition to the length, Intermezzo students were exposed to performing with baroque bows, which would have been appropriate for the music of Bach's era, but sound and feel very different from the modern conventional bows in place since the mid 1800s. Being a baroque work, the piece also called for a continuo part, usually played on organ or harpsichord. In this instance the part was played by one of our violinists, who also has previous keyboard experience, on the harpsichord. To pile on the challenges further, Intermezzo was joined by rev. Doug Escue, who sang the tenor part. Accompanying a singer, managing a full orchestral sound without drowning out a soloist, was yet a another new experience for Intermezzo. Despite all this novelty and challenge, the Intermezzo kids most certainly rose to the occasion, and will begin in the spring ready for, as Michael Palin puts it, "Something completely different."
For the Youth Philharmonia performance, three students were asked to research the selection and composers of the pieces that the group would be performing. Olivia Bell, "Legend"; Dean Gonzales", Dance of the Tumblers" and Xitlalitl-Rodas, "La Cumparcita". Conductor Richard Snider remarks that “they did a splendid job not only in their research and substance, but in their presentation to a full auditorium.”
The Youth Symphony Orchestra worked on a Schubert symphony that was quite challenging, and they did a fine job getting through it. For the first time in years, the YSO has a full horn section of four, conductor William Waag remarked that they represented themselves very well on Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. Above all, the organization is especially proud of the ensemble's continued growth, even in this rebuilding year (many seniors graduated in 2016), it's a great sign of up coming semesters/years.
Over the weekend of March 27 to 28, students from the SFYSA Mariachi programs attended the sixth annual Las Vegas Mariachi Conference.
Approximately 170 students participated from around Northern New Mexico, including attendees from Las Vegas, Santa Fe, Mora, and Taos. The conference offered students two full days of music workshops followed by a student showcase concert on Saturday night, where 6 student groups were invited to perform a short set.
SFYSA Mariachi Director, Jose Santiago, also performed a set with professional Mariachi group, Mariachi Tradicional. Finally, ALL 170 workshop attendees performed ten new songs they learned during the workshop alongside Mariachi Tradicional.
The Las Vegas Youth Mariachi Conference is organized by Martin Sena. Martin runs the mariachi Programs at Robertson High School and Memorial Middle School in Las Vegas.
Photos: Courtesy of Jose Santiago and Saul Bencomo-Rascon (Click to view large)
Mariachi Estrella Performance Video
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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.