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.
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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.