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​​Students Prepare for Trip to Study Piano among the Italian Dolomites

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – JUNE 18, 2014 – All roads may lead to Rome, but for three University of Texas at Brownsville students, their road this summer is leading a bit further north – to the picturesque village of Völs am Schlern in the Dolomite Mountains of northeastern Italy – where they will attend the Schlern International Music Festival for three weeks in July.

Junior music performance major Sean Bolkcom from Guadalajara, Mexico; senior music education major Josue Medellin from Matamoros, Mexico; and music education graduate Linda Chavez from Brownsville will participate in the Schlern festival. They were selected by auditioning for their professor, Dr. Juan Pablo Andrade, Assistant Professor in the Department of Music.

Piano students (left to right) Linda Chavez, Josue Medellin and Sean Bolkcom are raising funds to travel to northeastern Italy with their professor, Dr. Juan Pablo Andrade, to participate in the Schlern International Music Festival for three weeks in July.Piano students (left to right) Linda Chavez, Josue Medellin and Sean Bolkcom are raising funds to travel to northeastern Italy with their professor, Dr. Juan Pablo Andrade, to participate in the Schlern International Music Festival for three weeks in July.
 

“This invitation came as a big surprise; it is a very well-known international festival, and I feel humbled and very excited to be part of it this year,” said Andrade, who will teach at the festival. “I am thrilled that these three outstanding students will have the opportunity to attend this major music festival. For them to see, hear and work among many other excellent musicians from different schools and different countries will be tremendously enriching. I know they will make the best out of it.”

To help with expenses, Chavez and Medellin have been saving the earnings from their jobs at the UTB Music Academy, and Bolkcom is selling his car. Chavez has already given a recital at Valley Keyboards in McAllen to raise funds; her next recital is at 8 p.m. on Saturday, July 5 at the Seventh Day Adventist Hispanic Church in Brownsville. Medellin will give a piano recital at 5 p.m. on Saturday, July 5 at Museo Casamata in Matamoros.

“We are all so thankful to Dr. Andrade for the tremendous opportunity he has given us,” said Chavez, who graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education from UTB on Saturday, May 10. “Being surrounded by such high-level talent will motivate us to continue growing. We will interact with people from all over the world; it will be a culturally enriching experience.”

At the festival, the three students will attend master classes, take private lessons, participate in chamber music ensembles and perform in the historic halls and castles of the area. They will also take classes in two of the languages intricately tied to classical music: Italian and German.

All three students began their piano study at a young age, and all three stopped for a number of years, returning to their love of the piano several years later. Bolkcom and Medellin both found their way back to the piano when they were 15 years old – Bolkcom in Guadalajara and Medellin at Colegio de San Juan Siglo XXI in Matamoros.

Chavez first sat on a piano bench at the age of four, and then put it aside during middle and high school until she graduated from Valley Christian High School in 2009.

“I was without classical training until I entered the program at UTB under the direction of Dr. Andrade; through him, I have learned and grown tremendously and am eternally grateful for everything he has done for me,” she said.

All three admit they have chosen to pursue challenging careers, and all expressed their good fortune to study with Andrade.

“Dr. Andrade inspires me through his wisdom in music and in everything in general,” Bolkcom said. “He pushed me in the beginning; then I knew I had to push myself. It’s a question of discipline. Dr. Andrade is a role model of course, because he’s who I want to be one day: an excellent musician and artist.”

Medellin agreed that Andrade is a role model.

“Dr. Andrade is not only a great teacher but also an awesome person,” Medellin said. “He is kind, patient, intelligent, and he has a passion for music. He makes us do our best always. I want him to be proud of me and let him see that I putting in my effort to be a great student.” 

During the spring semester, Chavez and Medellin taught private lessons and group classes at the Music Academy. Before leaving for the festival in Italy, they will teach piano at the Music Academy Summer Camp, June 23-27.

Medellin’s selections for his recital on Saturday, July 5 in Matamoros include two baroque sonatas by Scarlatti, a classical piece by Mozart, romantic preludes by Chopin and Rachmaninoff, and 20th century pieces by Alberto Ginastera and Jose Murillo. 

Chavez’ selections for her recital on Saturday, July 5 represent various musical eras: “Mozart Piano Sonata K331” (Classical Era), “Brahms Op. 118”, No. 2 and 3 (Late Romantic Era), and “Ginastera's Danzas Argentinas” (20th Century). For other selections, she will be joined by several fellow music graduates to include a violin, clarinet, soprano and a four-hands piano piece.

“I am so excited to be playing with my friends one last time before we all leave for graduate school,” Chavez said, who received a partial scholarship to begin work on her Master of Arts in Piano Performance this fall at the prestigious Longy School of Music in Boston.

Chavez’ upcoming recital is at 8 p.m. on Saturday, July 5 at the Seventh Day Adventist Hispanic Church, 3515 Old Highway 77, Brownsville, 956-455-8417.

Medellin will give his recital at 5 p.m. on Saturday, July 5 at Museo Casamata, Calle Santos Degollado Esq, Colonia Modelo, Matamoros. For more information, call 956-590-4629; in Mexico, 868-8179735.

The group departs for Italy on Monday, July 7 and returns on Tuesday, July 29.

Donations to assist the piano students with travel expenses, festival fees and incidentals can be sent to Dr. Juan Pablo Andrade, UTB Music Department, One West University Blvd., Brownsville, TX 78520, or contact Dr. Andrade at juan.andrade@utb.edu

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