Monday, 6 August 2012

Violin Virtuoso Joins El Sistema Movement at Exemplary Charter School

August 1, 2012

BRIGHTON, MA Violin virtuoso Adrian Anantawan has never let excuses
stand in the way of his art. Born without a right arm, Anantawan took
up the violin at the age of 9 using an adaptive device, which allows
him to control the bow with great sensitivity. At the age of 27, the
young protégé of Pinchas Zuckerman and Itzak Perlman has performed
concertos with professional orchestras in Toronto, Vancouver, and
Montreal, earning acclaim as a "rising star" of the classical world.
But for Anantawan, the glory of the concert hall takes a second fiddle
to what he sees as his highest purpose: bringing the joy of music
performance to those who are too often cut off from it.

This fall, he will join forces with the El Sistema movement as a
conductor of the Dudamel Orchestra at Conservatory Lab Charter School,
a public elementary school providing free, intensive music instruction
to children from Boston's poorest neighborhoods. Each student at the
school receives 2.5 hours of daily orchestral music instruction
beginning in kindergarten, woven into their academic schedule. Music
at Conservatory Lab is a vehicle for building a culture of excellence,
social responsibility, and self-confidence, a philosophy that
Anantawan has shared from the beginning.

"A lot of people don't realize how valuable their voices are;"
Anantawan explains, "for me, music saved my life. I want my students
to have the same opportunity to grow, to explore through music." He
cites his early success with the violin as a turning point in his
life, when he began to began to expect more from himself and from his
studies. His mentor, Itzak Perlman, who sits down to play the violin
after a childhood polio affliction weakened his legs, taught him that
the key to overcoming any disability is to develop a concept of what
you want, then figure out how to do it.

With degrees from the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music as well as
the Harvard School of Education, Anantawan is part of a new breed of
teaching artists, what Eric Booth describes as, "a practicing
professional artist with the complementary skills, curiosities and
sensibilities of an educator." He joins a team of likeminded
professional musicians who teach each of the orchestral instruments
offered at Conservatory Lab.

He understands himself as a musician who has been "enabled" by great
teachers who helped him realize his own innate artistry. Now he
strives to provide the same opportunities to children and adults,
whatever their obstacles might be.

Anantawan is in his element as he sorts through poems his students
have created to describe the emotions in Sibelius' Finlandia, a piece
he will conduct with them this fall. He smiles as he remarks, "I feel
like this is the perfect place to be right now."

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