It’s wonderful to be back in San Antonio for the upcoming world premiere of the new “Requiem” for the Victims of the Pandemic, presented by Trinity University and Incarnate Word together in the Trinity Choral Union Concert on March 4th. And in going to rehearsals, eating Mexican food and driving my hometown streets, I think about how I got to make music my profession; the memories of growing up in Musical Bridges Around the World (MBAW) come flooding back.
As teenagers, my sister Vanessa and I studied piano with Anya, who through Musical Bridges gave us the most complete education in being a musician. As German speakers we dressed up as Mozart and Nannerl in the “Mozart years,” playing and acting in “Kids to Concerts” programs for crowds of children at the Mexican Institute and in some main stage concerts. Laralee List wrote the funny scripts, Charles Hanson played Leopold Mozart, we were the kids, and our mother served as stage mom. I will never forget those wonderful costumes and the day of the photo shoot for the brochures, posing with Anya’s painted piano and chocolate strawberries. The things we do for music!
Lessons with Anya took me to the level needed to become a professional musician. She encouraged us to play in the Junior Tuesday Musical Club Saturdays, competitions, and I soaked in the life of musicians by page turning for chamber music performances and attending so many concerts at San Fernando Cathedral and McAllister Auditorium. Those were the days even Anya’s parents would sometimes perform, Elena came to Texas, and Mark and Elena released their first CD. I still remember playing Bach’s Italian Concerto for Valeri one time, which is actually on one of his jazz albums. My parents volunteered in many ways as well, from program proofreader to treasurer, all before MBAW had full-time staff.
Another part of the programming I remember fondly were the “Child Prodigy Concerts,” to which I was invited to return in a “Homecoming Concert” in 2017. For this occasion I composed “Bridge,” a trio for violin, mezzo-soprano, and piano, performed by my dear colleagues from our MBAW childhood: Nancy Zhou, Veronica Williams, and Daniel Anastasio. It is so inspiring to see that we are still making music and flourishing. Anya has always had a vision to lift up and showcase musicians of all ages.
San Antonio is a fertile ground for a young musician, for all I learned from MBAW, SOLI Chamber Ensemble, the North East School of the Arts, marching band in Poteet, and studying at Trinity University.
Since junior high, I have watched Anya nurture this wonderful organization in San Antonio from the early years and grow it to this fantastic program that employs so many musicians locally and world-wide. “It takes a village,” she says.
Growing up in the MBAW family built the musical bridge to my future and I can’t wait to see what it holds.
Composer & Pianist