Support Music Scholarships for Mexican Youths

by Arquetopia, Foundation for Development
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Young student Angel in recent solo recital
Young student Angel in recent solo recital

Warm hellos from all of us at Arquetopia! Our small but focused music programs continue to expand, mounting a uniquely renowned presence in these regions of southern Mexico where quality music programs and facilities are indeed a rare find. Our students have been progressing rapidly, well exceeding expectations.

 

Expanding his presence as an up-and-coming artist in different regions of the country, 16-year-old Ángel, one of Arquetopia’s most accomplished students, recently performed as soloist at the Universidad del Mar in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca. Ángel gave a public recital as part of the university’s concert series, drawing a large crowd. Ángel continues to work on an especially challenging curriculum of varied repertoire including a solo concerto he will be performing as invited soloist with a symphony in Oaxaca, and several jazz pieces he is using for upcoming recitals. Ángel also now teaches two young clarinet students of his own in the city of Oaxaca, using much of Arquetopia’s educational model and materials in his own teaching methods.

 

Another rising star in our music programs, Giovanni, recently completed a two-week music study residency at Arquetopia’s secondary center in Oaxaca while also participating in practice sessions at the Escuela de Bellas Artes of Oaxaca’s University of Benito Juárez along with Ángel, who lives in Oaxaca and who has been mentoring Giovanni since Giovanni joined the music studio last year.

 

We are happy to report that both Giovanni and Ángel have been able to upgrade from their previous, rather limited plastic student instruments, to very nice wooden professional-model clarinets since our last report. With program director Christopher Davis’s help, Giovanni was able to purchase a very special instrument at an affordable price with help from the donations of our generous Global Giving supporters. He is now using a vintage Buffet R13 clarinet in immaculate condition with which he is currently preparing for a round of auditions for various music schools. With your help through Global Giving, Ángel is now in process of purchasing an equally tremendous instrument himself from Mr. Davis.

 

We continue to produce more remarkable videos with our advanced students as part of our YouTube practice session series in order to keep the students constantly practicing and rehearsing intensely as if everything they are preparing is p for immediate public solo concerts. The students are motivated to work harder knowing that their informal performance in class will be presented on YouTube and Vimeo (whether they are ready or not), ensuring that the students are well-organized and managing their time wisely. The video series project pushes students meet goals in fulfillment of their obligations as full-scholarship recipients while also eliminating stage fright, as they have become accustomed to being watched and critiqued regularly vs. only when on stage and in front of a live audience.

 

For the past two months, Arquetopia’s music programs have been accepting applications, recruiting new students, and screening potential scholarship recipients. Final selection will take place in May for the instructional courses as well as for the advanced performing group currently being assembled.

 

Soon we will be celebrating the return of our good friend and mentor, Ms. Jenny Wright-Tolen, a respected professional clarinetist and prominent music director in Las Vegas, Nevada, who will be here this summer to work once again with Arquetopia’s music students in intensive chamber music workshops and individual lessons. It is a pleasure to welcome Ms. Tolen who will share her experiences and wisdom as a successful performer and teacher with Arquetopia's excited and impressionable youth.

 

With the ongoing and generous donations Arquetopia has received from you, our Global Giving project supporters, we were recently able to obtain more necessary equipment including new, ergonomic chairs and and 25 professional orchestral music stands for the studio; new, professional mouthpieces and tuning barrels for the advanced students; maintenance supplies for all students such as pad kits and tools; bulk orders of reeds; large filing cabinets for the sheet music library; new shelves for the audio media; and other important accessories. Numerous educational resources were also recently purchased for the program including multiple method books; new sheet music; and scores for the music library; and even a small computer for the students’ research use. We are currently having a new and improved lighting system installed in the music studio while we continue to search for an affordable digital piano for music theory classroom use.

 

For your continued support of Arquetopia’s music programs and impactful opportunities for marginalized youth through Global Giving, we sincerely thank you all again and wish you a safe, memorable, and musical summer.

Student Giovanni in residency at Arquetopia Oaxaca
Student Giovanni in residency at Arquetopia Oaxaca
Director Mr. Davis with Angel in recording session
Director Mr. Davis with Angel in recording session
Giovanni and Mr. Davis with Ms. Jenny Wright-Tolen
Giovanni and Mr. Davis with Ms. Jenny Wright-Tolen
One of our beautiful, new, upgraded instruments
One of our beautiful, new, upgraded instruments
Exterior of Arquetopia
Exterior of Arquetopia's music studio in Puebla
Mozart sessions w/Giovanni, Ms. Tolen, Mr. Davis
Mozart sessions w/Giovanni, Ms. Tolen, Mr. Davis

Warm salutations from all of us at Arquetopia in Puebla and Oaxaca, southern Mexico! We are pleased to report that, thanks in large part to you, our Global Giving supporters, our young music students have had an exceptionally productive and memorable year.

One of the most exciting highlights of this year was the late-summer visit we received from Ms. Jenny Wright-Tolen, a respected professional clarinetist and prominent music director in Las Vegas, Nevada. We were privileged to have Jenny with us for a week during which she generously took time to work with our students intensely on the chamber music of Mozart. We are anxiously looking forward to Ms. Tolen’s return next year when she will be able to work even longer with the students.

Making remarkable progress since our last report is young protégé Ángel, who has recently completed one of the most important method books and is currently preparing to perform the virtuoso Concerto No.1 in F minor by C.M. von Weber, as soloist with a regional orchestra as well as a number of other standards in the clarinet repertoire for upcoming recital. He is becoming increasingly comfortable in playing jazz music, to which he has especially gravitated over the past year or so. His outstanding flexibility in this area is obvious from the outset. Though Ángel now receives instruction locally from Arquetopia director Christopher Davis at the Escuela de Bellas Artes, a music school housed inside of a former Catholic convent in the town of Oaxaca, Ángel regularly commutes via a five-hour bus trip and stays in Arquetopia’s residency center for several days at a time while receiving more intensive instruction in Puebla.

Another of the studio standouts, young Giovanni has now established himself in the local symphony scene, serving as principal clarinet in his orchestra since winning a full music scholarship to university this past summer. He performed in numerous concerts over the past several months and in a musical-theatre pit orchestra. Currently, he is working on a research project on the vast repertoire and composers of the clarinet as well as preparing a broad range of orchestral excerpts for upcoming auditions and pieces for public recital. He has made exceptional progress over the past several months and has shed the shy and timid nature he had when he joined the studio this past spring. Clear evidence of this can be found especially when he plays in his ‘altissimo’ range, the highest notes range of the instrument, with which he is now quite adept and confident. We are expecting great things from Giovanni over the coming months.

We were fortunate, since our last report, to be able to purchase numerous repair supplies for our students’ instruments (tools, pad sets, and other emergency items) with the donations we received through Global Giving, as well as much-needed sheet music and method books into which the students have graduated. As there are no qualified instrument repair technicians in this region of Mexico, the repair kits were especially necessary and appreciated; in the studio, when students are not receiving musical instruction or practicing, they are often learning how to repair and maintain their own instruments as professional musicians would. The workshops in repairs and maintenance that our students receive are not only to help the students save money but to help them in understanding the acoustics and science of their instruments, why even tiny things can cause either positive or very negative changes in the sound and response, and to prevent fatigue and discouragement that many young students face when their equipment inevitably falters or fails them due to its age or climatic changes.

Another wonderful benefit we are seeing is in how much our programs have grown. We are now ready to offer another open-enrollment term and scholarship auditions in Puebla in which more serious but financially marginalized young students will be able to access quality one-on-one instruction and ensemble training at little to no cost (more info on that to come in our next Global Giving report).

For your ongoing support of Arquetopia’s music programs and opportunities for young students through Global Giving, we sincerely thank you all again, and we wish the happiest of holidays to you and yours.

More Mozart sessions (Photo by J. Tolen)
More Mozart sessions (Photo by J. Tolen)
Angel in master class
Angel in master class
Giovanni and students in pit orchestra
Giovanni and students in pit orchestra
Giovanni and Katia after orchestra concert
Giovanni and Katia after orchestra concert

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Giovanni, Mr. Davis, and Angel in the music studio
Giovanni, Mr. Davis, and Angel in the music studio

Warmest greetings from all of us at Arquetopia. This busy and very fast-moving year has marked some exciting victories for Arquetopia’s music programs. With Arquetopia’s new facilities having now been painstakingly renovated and revamped for over a year, the beautiful new music studio in the third-floor tower has been serving us very well and setting the stage for significant progress in multiple directions. Our small but focused programs continue to grow, mounting a unique presence in this region of Mexico where quality music programs and facilities are indeed a rare find.

We continue with our YouTube project, producing short videos of the students’ lessons, practice sessions, and performances which are rotated on YouTube and Vimeo during times of year when students are working toward live concert performances. A current, ongoing project involves the students in preparation of the difficult chamber works of Mozart. Knowing that their individual work will soon be seen and heard publicly on these websites, regardless of how prepared or unprepared the students are, gradually eliminates stage fright and consistently motivates students to practice longer and more diligently than without recording.

The highlight of this year so far has been the arrival of a new student into the fold: a serious young clarinetist from Puebla, Mexico named Giovanni.

With his innate maturity, enthusiasm for learning, and remarkable progress since starting his musical studies at Arquetopia, Giovanni has proven to be the new rising star of the program. When he arrived this spring, he was clearly nervous and even timid in the individual lessons and group classes, having started music rather late in his adolescence and playing the clarinet for only three years. Having had no previous private instruction, he soon found his bearings, claiming his place in the studio and working very hard to overcome the poor habits that had accumulated in his playing. His commitment and unusual discipline in practicing resulted in a surprisingly rapid artistic development, musical sensitivity, particularly beautiful and robust tone, and clean technique.

When Giovanni informed Christopher Davis, Arquetopia Co-Executive Director and Director of Music Programs, that he hoped to audition for a university music program and scholarship, Mr. Davis —having successfully prepared hundreds of his American students for this challenge in the past— outlined a rigorous program to ready Giovanni for it musically and mentally. Under pressure and via multiple individual lessons per week, Giovanni learned three months’ worth of music in only three weeks’ time and then delivered two outstanding auditions, the first consisting of two difficult and contrasting pieces of repertoire by video, and the second consisting of numerous pieces of sight-reading (performing music on the spot without having seen it before) in person before the university faculty.

After he completed the second audition and was asked by Mr. Davis how it went, Giovanni replied, “I think I played it right. In the last part of sight-reading the scores, at first I was nervous. I was very worried because this is harder than it looks. Other clarinetists were playing the [Márquez] Danzón and Ravel’s Bolero. I listened a little bit to the others and then I realized that my sound was much more powerful.”

All of us at Arquetopia are thrilled to announce that Giovanni’s hard worked paid off in spades. He succeeded not only in being admitted to the most expensive university in Mexico, the Universidad de las Americas (University of the Americas), and into its respected music programs but in winning the principal clarinet position in the university symphony orchestra and a 100% Music Artist Scholarship for all years of his education (one of only three such scholarships offered by the institution). Following in the footsteps of Mr. Davis’s past students in the USA, Giovanni is the first student emerging from Arquetopia’s relatively young music programs in Mexico to achieve these critical opportunities and honors. He will start his studies at the university this August.

This month, Giovanni will also perform his first full public solo recital in the nearby city of Cholula where he currently attends school.

Of course, these important successes could not have been possible without GlobalGiving and all of you, Arquetopia’s generous fans and supporters. As always, we humbly and profusely thank you for your continued support, and we wish you a summer full of wonder and adventure. Gracias y buenas vibras!

Giovanni and Angel rehearsing Mozart
Giovanni and Angel rehearsing Mozart
Giovanni and Mr. Davis in memorization lesson
Giovanni and Mr. Davis in memorization lesson
100% University Music Scholarship Winner Giovanni
100% University Music Scholarship Winner Giovanni
Stained glass in Arquetopia
Stained glass in Arquetopia's new music studio
Progress of Arquetopia
Progress of Arquetopia's yearlong renovations
Cathedral view from Arquetopia
Cathedral view from Arquetopia's music studio
Arquetopia
Arquetopia's New, Renovated Music Studio in Puebla

The year of 2014 has at last come to a close, and Arquetopia’s music programs have grown yet again. We are very pleased to announce the nearly completed renovation of our new, permanent space in Puebla and the beautifully finished music studio, music office, and library. The new music studio will serve as the much-needed and long-awaited rehearsal space for Arquetopia’s young students and collaborating adult chamber musicians in Puebla. This is a special accomplishment for Arquetopia as previously, our youth music programs operated only at our secondary space in Oaxaca due to having had no consistent space for music in Puebla. Eventually, we hope to expand this new studio space to include an intimate chamber music performance hall with a grand piano.

Our students have been learning many important, advanced concepts of music including theory, history, solfege, and, of course, performance. For some of the students, the emphasis is on performing solos with orchestra, while for others, it is on learning how to perform in small chamber ensembles. An integral part of this curriculum is the study of opera and the human voice, and how singing concepts dramatically affect a wind-instrument musician’s abilities and instincts regarding sound production. In-depth research projects are assigned on composers, pieces, and specific topics such as ways to minimize performance anxiety and prevent performance-related injury.

Our YouTube and Vimeo videomaking project also continues with the production of short clips of student rehearsals and performances rotated publicly on these two websites in order to increase student motivation to practice, maximize concentration, and to eliminate stage fright.

From generous donations from you, our Global Giving project supporters, Arquetopia was able to obtain more critically needed equipment for students: mouthpieces, reeds, instrument repair and maintenance kits, and more music stands. Numerous educational resources were also recently purchased for the program including method books, sheet music and scores for the music library, music notation books, and music learning software for the students’ use. We are having more instruments professionally refurbished and are always accepting donations of additional instruments (new and used) to build our programs. Now that we have obtained our permanent space in Puebla, we hope to eventually purchase a digital piano for the classroom, to be used both for teaching complicated theory and harmony concepts and for performances.

We wish all of you a brilliant 2015 and thank you again for your donations to our unique and effective educational music programs. Thanks to your caring and generosity, our extremely hard-working young students and staff eagerly face this new year with so much continued progress and new goals to reach.

Angel and Christopher Davis in Lesson
Angel and Christopher Davis in Lesson
Student Angel in Video Performance
Student Angel in Video Performance
Arquetopia
Arquetopia's New, Renovated Foundation in Puebla
Student Angel Atilano Montellano Urbieta in Lesson
Student Angel Atilano Montellano Urbieta in Lesson

An Intensive Summer of Progress

It’s been a very different and intensive summer for Arquetopia’s music programs from previous years. We have embarked on a new project for 2014 that has been not only proven to foster more motivation toward practicing and learning but also provides a quantifiable, permanent audiovisual record of each student’s work and progress while eliminating stage fright.

This year’s special emphasis on learning how to eliminate stage fright goes beyond attaining the solid self-confidence students already get from having practiced properly. During each individual lesson, students are recorded on high-definition video, performing portions of the latest pieces of repertoire they are studying. Performing regularly for a critical audience, whether the audience is live or in the form of a high-quality camera, instills better concentration and desensitizes students to the common environmental elements that cause stage fright. The videos of the students are then rotated on YouTube and Vimeo during times of year when students are working toward live concert performances. The knowledge that their work will soon be seen and heard publicly on these websites after each session, regardless of how prepared or unprepared they are, motivates students to practice longer and more diligently than without recording.

These clips are catalogued in Arquetopia’s permanent library for future access by the students who may draw upon them for submission to various future endeavors such as competitions, concert performance opportunities, job auditions, and especially for college and conservatory scholarships.

Arquetopia’s New Music Space in Puebla

As of July 4 and after more than two and a half years of searching for a permanent home for Arquetopia, we have acquired a new space for our foundation, international artist residencies, and growing music programs in the central historic district of Puebla. The beautiful, spacious, and acoustically ideal music studio in the building’s solarium tower provides the long-awaited solution for our music programs’ previous space limitation of operating only in Oaxaca. Additional plans for the purchase of a quality grand piano and for the construction of a premier chamber music rehearsal and performing venue on the top floor are currently underway.

All of us at Arquetopia, staff and students alike, wish to profusely thank you, our many donors, for your continued support. It is no small miracle to have reached this important milestone in our journey, and we humbly acknowledge and appreciate the exceptional generosity of all of you.  Have a wonderful summer and autumn.

Angel in lesson with Maestro Chris Davis
Angel in lesson with Maestro Chris Davis
Angel in recording session w/Maestro Chris Davis
Angel in recording session w/Maestro Chris Davis
Preview of domed ceiling of our new music studio
Preview of domed ceiling of our new music studio
A stained-glass window in our new music studio
A stained-glass window in our new music studio
Night view, downtown Puebla, from our music studio
Night view, downtown Puebla, from our music studio

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Organization Information

Arquetopia, Foundation for Development

Location: Puebla - Mexico
Website: http:/​/​www.arquetopia.org
Project Leader:
Christopher Davis
Puebla, Puebla Mexico
$19,133 raised of $30,000 goal
 
 
488 donations
$10,867 to go
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