By Ling-Mei Wong 黃靈美
Strains of Mozart filled the air at the Chinatown library, serenading more than 80 guests. Children from the Boston String Academy (BSA) performed on March 27, marking the first live music concert by youth.
“We strongly believe in building community,” said founder and director Taide Prieto-Carpio. The Peruvian cellist is a founder of BSA, along with Venezuelan violinists Mariesther and Marielisa Alvarez.
The three women started a Chinatown string program for professional music instruction to inner-city children in 2011, before formally founding BSA in November 2012. Since then, programs have launched in Allston and Roxbury, reaching 135 children.
Prieto-Carpio and Mariesther Alvarez led the beginner and intermediate orchestras of the Chinatown program, playing classical music, Hungarian folk tunes and a merengue from Latin America. The Chinatown program meets at the Boston Chinese Evangelical Church on Harrison Avenue.
Chinatown branch librarian Theresa Furbish said, “We’re so happy to have the Boston String Academy here. Kids might not have access to music instruction … we hope to see kids accessing the Boston arts scene.”
Six members of BSA’s Chinatown program were invited to perform at the “Encounters/Encuentros” international orchestral workshop and concert in Mexico City from March 1 to 4 with Mexican composer Arturo Marquez, and Venezuelan violinist and conductor Gustavo Dudamel. The performers, age 12 to 14, were cellists Erick Liang and Darren Seto and violinists Peter Cho, Annabelle Lee, Eliza Youngman and Lola Zulps.
“The students had a wonderful experience playing with a living composer,” Prieto-Carpio said. They had played Marquez’s music before and were excited to meet him.
Over the summer, 18 of the Academy’s students will perform at the National Take A Stand Festival in Los Angeles, up from 11 students who attended in 2017. This is the first year Allston students have been invited, joining their peers from the Chinatown program, Prieto-Carpio said. The Academy will represent for the second time the largest group from Massachusetts.
This summer, BSA students will participate at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, a summer program for youth affiliated with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Tanglewood Music Center, Prieto-Carpio said.
The directors are gratified their pupils have qualified against stiff competition. “Our program is open to all families, so their children can get these opportunities,” Prieto-Carpio said. “It’s something we’re proud of.”
BSA emphasizes pride in one’s roots. All 135 students perform together twice a year, with a meal of pot luck dishes from each family’s culture.
“Music is a language. It’s a tool to express themselves,” Prieto-Carpio said. “It’s so great to see Asian, black, Latin and white students from different communities getting together.”
An open house and instrument petting zoo will take place April 5 at 249 Harrison Avenue from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
For more information about BSA, please visit www.bostonstringacademy.org.