Durham-Based Nonprofit Receives $25,000 Donation From the Price Fund
One year ago, accomplished Kidznotes musicians Marcus Gee and Kiarra Truitt-Martin had an amazing opportunity to participate in the 2018 National Take a Stand Festival in Los Angeles, an intensive two week residency for musicians in El Sistema-inspired programs across the country. This summer, Marcus and Kiarra returned to Los Angeles for another unforgettable experience with the YOLA National Festival. This time, however, they were joined by Felicia Adizue, a 12 year old Kidznotes violinist from Knightdale, NC.
“I had to wait until I was twelve before I finally had the chance to audition into YOLA,” says Felicia. Seeing Marcus and Kiarra successfully audition for the opportunity was all the encouragement Felicia needed to work hard and audition this year.
Felicia spent two weeks playing music and bonding with the 44 young musicians who successfully auditioned for the YOLA Chamber Orchestra led by Soo Han, conductor, and Gustavo Dudamel, artistic director and conductor.
Meeting people that feel the same way about music as I do was pretty cool,” reflects Felicia.
Felicia and her sister, Fiona, joined Kidznotes shortly after arriving to North Carolina from Taiwan with their family in 2015. She is proud of her unique background; Felica’s native language is Chinese, her mother is from Taiwan, and her father is from Nigeria. Coming to Kidznotes helped both Felicia and her sister adjust to living in America for the first time, says their mother, Chao Chuan Wang.
For Felicia, music is more than just an extracurricular activity. It is the tapestry in which she weaves the strains of her Taiwanese and Nigerian heritage together. It is also where she joins the rhythms and colors of hip hop with the form and beauty of classical music.
Felicia enjoys playing songs like the traditional Taiwanese melody, “Spring Breeze,” that she learned while visiting her maternal grandfather, or hip hop songs from her father’s homeland, Nigeria – all performed on the violin she uses to play Bach, Beethoven and Bizet. The conductors and teaching artists at the YOLA National Festival, Felicia recalls, embraced musical diversity in a way that made the young musicians feel comfortable about expressing themselves.
Alongside the classical repertoire performed in the festival, Felicia was surprised to find music like “My Shot” from the Broadway musical “Hamilton” on the program. Felicia passed an audition to rap the lyrics at the YOLA Festival final concert at Walt Disney Concert Hall. “To have a chance to play a different type of music, and the ability to star in it was really honorable. I just can’t forget about the time that I got myself up there and rapped. It was a really memorable moment!”
My parents were glad that I was able to leave home and do something that I love with people that love [music] too,” says Felicia. “They are proud of me for doing something that will help me succeed.”
The festival orchestra aims to develop a model for excellence and a national community of citizen musicians from historically excluded populations in the United States. Felicia and her fellow musicians were able to participate in the festival at no cost – an investment that had a profound impact on Felicia and her family.
Felicia is grateful to Kidznotes and to everyone that has helped her succeed. “Success,” explains Felicia, “means accomplishing your goals in a way that you are satisfied and happy with, while being appreciative for those that helped you.”