Encounters/Encuentros: Jennifer’s Reflection
“Right from the beginning, this trip changed my life completely. I could not be more grateful for such an unbelievable opportunity.”
“Where do I even start? Wow. This trip really left me speechless. Right from the beginning, it changed my life completely.
On the first day, we were walking to our rehearsal room with all the jitters and nervous butterflies, but on the last day, we wish that this feeling lasted forever. I know it sounds absolutely cheesy but you know when everything feels complete and perfect? That is how I felt the entire week.”
OrKidstra experienced this extraordinary program, “Encounters/Encuentros: Music Unites the Continents” in Mexico City, March 1-4, 2018, thanks to the generosity of The Gustavo Dudamel Foundation, which fully funded the music and citizenship intensive for all attendees and provided full scholarships for six OrKidstra participants including Nancy, Rinila, Kafele, Evelyn, Peter and Jennifer.
“March 1st, 2018 was the first time I really believed that music is the universal language. The majority of the population spoke Spanish, therefore most of my sectionals were held in Spanish. The language barrier was definitely difficult to overcome but when we first started playing together, it just felt right. The very first tutti rehearsal brought me to tears. Playing with a group of international strangers was so empowering. Everyone was supportive, enthusiastic and happy; overall, it was a very positive environment. This energy was so contagious and there is absolutely no way to explain it in words.
I met so many wonderful musicians who I would love to meet again. One musician, in particular, is my stand partner. He was incredibly kind and tried his best to translate for me, even though he struggled with English, too. I tried to learn Spanish to talk with him and he surprised me by trying to learn English to talk with me. He was always happy and cheerful, which made me feel welcomed. I am so grateful for all the friendships I have made and the incredible people I met, especially for the ones that I still keep in touch with.
I remember when I heard one of Arturo Marquez’s pieces played by my local youth orchestra and ever since, I’ve been obsessed with his pieces. From listening to Congo del Fuego in the audience to playing this piece with the Marquez conducting was an experience I will never forget. Meeting him and shaking his hand was a dream come true. Not only did we meet Marquez, but being conducted by Gustavo Dudamel was undeniably something to cherish in my memory. Being conducted by him is so much better than watching him in music class. He immediately knew our strengths and weakness’ as an orchestra and helped us accomplish a lot in such a short amount of time. He really brought us playing together and overall, he is just a remarkable person. Not to forget, our rehearsal conductor, Eduardo Garcia Barrios, was full of energy and enthusiasm, which made everyone feel encouraged to put their best foot forward. His dancing and excitement made long rehearsals short, fun and efficient.
When I was walking to my first sectional, I was absolutely terrified because I did not know anyone and I am not the easiest person to talk to when I am shy, especially in a foreign country. Everyone was so happy to be there and was always smiling. That sounds super cliche and ridiculous, but honestly, they were all friendly and welcoming. Not once did I feel timid or scared after meeting everyone. It’s like when you click with someone instantly, but this click happened with everyone. The teacher helped me improve as a musician and taught us how to play together as a section and blend our sound seamlessly. Even though he was not fluent in English, his explanations made sense and were valuable. I improved so much from my tone quality to playing together and I will continue to apply what I learned in my playing.
The concert was unbelievable. Right when we sat in our seats to when we were leaving the stage, I felt so many adrenaline rushes. The jitters in my fingers and the smiles on everyone’s faces were incredible. After the very first piece, Alas a Malala which was absolutely stunning, we had our first standing ovation; it felt like royalty. Another spectacular piece we played was the William’s Adagio. Playing the John William’s piece was moving and full of emotion, and it was an honor to play such a special and exclusive piece. The passion and intensity was so beautiful. By the end of the concert, we had a total of three standing ovations and unforgettable memories. The excitement from the audience, while they were applauding, was so contagious and left us all proud of our accomplishment. After the concert, everyone was hugging and saying goodbye, which left me tearing up.
The last day really hit me hard. All the other groups planned on leaving earlier than us. I had the chance to get to know a violist from the New Brunswick group who was about leave. That morning, she texted me that she was leaving so during breakfast, I ran down a few flights of stairs and saw her walking out the door with her luggage. I called for her and ran to hug her before she could get on the van. It felt like such a movie moment but I was really going to miss my new friend (11Erica, if you’re reading this, I miss you so much and I hope that we can meet again sometime). I am so grateful to have made new friends but this day was so hard on me because saying goodbye was really painful. After crying for half an hour, I had to use my sunglasses to hide my red and teary eyes before going out.
Although the morning was difficult to get past, the rest of the day was really fun. We went out for sightseeing with OrKidstra Program & Events Coordinator and tour guide, Ms. Katie. Exploring the city was lovely. The culture, the language, the weather; it’s truly amazing. Trying some authentic Mexican tacos and churros was awesome. Going to the market and experiencing the lifestyle was beautiful. I wish that we had explored more of Mexico and enjoyed the nice weather for longer.
Overall, there is no way to accurately describe this trip in words. Everything was so perfect and could not have been any better. I have never had a trip that has affected me this much and I could not be more grateful for such an unbelievable opportunity. I am literally crying as write this because I miss everything about this workshop. This has been the best week of my life and nothing could ever make me want to exchange this opportunity for anything else. I’m going to stress a lot on what I had said earlier about how I felt because it is the closest way of describing the feeling I had towards this trip; I know it sounds absolutely cheesy but you know when everything feels complete and perfect? That is how I felt the entire week.” – Jennifer, 16, OrKidstra student (viola)