A world-renowned violinist gives Newtown children a lesson in music – and overcoming challenges

Standing in a gazebo at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park in Sarasota on Saturday, violinist Adrian Anantuan told the children gathered around a story about how angry his younger brother would be when he stole a cookie from him.

“And sometimes I got so mad that I wanted to express it in music. And when Beethoven—a composer who wrote music—was really mad, he wrote a piece of music that sounded like this. “There was,” Anantuan said as he began to play Beethoven’s 5th. Symphony in C Minor.

Artist and pianist Leigh McAllister performed for nearly an hour, showcasing classical music and the violin’s alternate identity—the fiddle—and engaging children in spontaneous storytelling involving a king, a cell phone and a The tiger was involved.

The event capped off a week-long artist-in-residence with the Sarasota Performing Arts Center Foundation for Anantuan, 40, and gave children in Newtown’s historically black Sarasota neighborhood a chance to make their own instruments — out of paper plates. Bani tambourine – and to play. With a famous violinist.

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Anantuan is a graduate of Yale and Harvard, and has performed in high-profile venues such as the White House and the Olympics. But he said such events have a special draw.

Violinist Adrian Anantuan and pianist Lee McAllister smile on stage in a park in Newtown.

Kerry Sheridan


WUSF Public Media

Violinist Adrian Anantuan and pianist Lee McAllister perform at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Sarasota on Jan. 28, 2022.

“As a classical musician it is always important for us to be in front of the audience,” said Anantuan.

“Sometimes just going and making art where the people are is not only something that makes sense for our field and for classical music, but it’s a joy as a musician to work with people that I don’t know in general.” I will not see any music in the concert hall.

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Anantuan said there is another reason he appreciates the opportunity to meet his young audience.

“I grew up with a visible disability. I’m missing my right hand and often kids come up to me and ask me what happened, why are you different?” They said. “And often I tell them that some people are tall, some people are short, some people are dark-skinned, some are light-skinned, but we’re all the same inside.

“And I think playing music really enhances that message, so I’m very grateful to be able to share that gift.”

She was accompanied by 26-year-old McAllister, who was born with three fingers on her left hand. She also likes to perform for youngsters.

Leigh McAllister wears a blue dress and plays the piano in the park.

Kerry Sheridan


WUSF Public Media

Leigh McAllister, 26, says she wanted to play the piano from a young age.

“I just love seeing the look on their faces, knowing that when I was a kid, I loved music. I wanted to be a musician at a very young age, about three years old,” she said.

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McAllister said her parents initially did not allow her to play the piano because of her disability. But she persevered, and was finally allowed to take lessons.

“And I want kids to experience that, to see musicians who have overcome it and know that they can do it too,” she said.

Such arts education programs are held at Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Newtown. Once a month according to Steve Jones, a teaching artist and one of the organizers.

“We’ve been fulfilling that need for about two and a half years now, coming here once a month, just to expose, inspire, explore with our students and families living here in Newtown,” he said. are.”

Children make tambourine out of paper plates.

Chandler Balck work


WUSF Public Media

The children made tambourines out of paper plates to play as their instruments

Each month they have a different theme. This time, it’s “Music for Everyone.” The theme of the next one, February 25, is Black History.

“Music just makes a difference and letting kids learn about good music is really important,” said Valerie Bouchand, president of New Town Nation, another co-sponsor of the event.


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