The Unifying Power of Music

(The following is a first-hand account about MastermusicNYC, an international music summer camp).

By Jaybian Salazar

Sunday July 21st was the culminating concert in a fascinating week for me and some of my fellow music students from St. John’s Preparatory School.

We were very fortunate to have been chosen to participate in an international music camp called Mastermusic NYC. There were eight students from MondoMusica, a renowned music school in Milan, Italy, and 10 from New York City.

We all met for the first time that week at the St. John’s Prep Visual and Performing Arts Center and the goal was simple: We had five days to put on a concert of over 20 songs of different styles and genres. That’s right. Only five days! Mamma Mia!

We began rehearsals at St. John’s Prep Studio 18 black box theatre and the work was intense from the start.

At first, we were all a bit self-conscious, as we did not know each other. But Mexican percussionist Valentina Ortiz soon began to loosen us up with an early morning percussion masterclass.

During breaks, we began to get to know each other by exchanging culture and language. We were from different countries, but our shared love of music had brought us together in this once-in-a-lifetime experience and we all knew it.

Our music tutors Simona Rodano, Fintan O’Neill and Ryo Yamaguchi kept us focused, and were tremendously encouraging. We had both a Broadway and a Jazz masterclass from Spyros Bobby Drakos and Enrico Grenafei, respectively, that we will never forget!

Despite the differences in culture, ethnicities and experiences between our two groups of young musicians, we quickly became friends and rose to the challenge of learning, rehearsing and performing our songs in an entertaining show at Athens Square Park.

The show was two hours long, but despite the high temperature, people came out and passersby stopped and stayed to enjoy the music. We were all very proud and delighted. Afterward, we shared a celebration dinner.

The next day, we showed the Italian students around some of New York’s landmarks and had a great time.

This has been an experience I will never forget and I have already received an invitation to visit my new friends in Milan!

(Special thanks to George Stamatiades and Athens Square Inc. If you would like to be part of Mastermusic NYC 2020, you can email: mastermusicnyc@gmail.com.)

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