Sir Jonathan Mills to host public lectures at Yale

Sir Jonathan Mills. Photo by Seamus McGarvey

Sir Jonathan Mills, Trumbull Fellow, will present a series of four public lectures that will collectively address issues related to “Culture, Creativity, and Community.” Mills, who is known for his directorship, from 2006 until 2014, of the internationally celebrated Edinburgh International Festival, has also led prestigious festivals in his native Australia and is recognized around the world for his thought-provoking compositions. Mills holds a bachelor of music degree in composition from the University of Sydney and a master of architecture from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. He was appointed Officer of the Order of Australia in 2011 and knighted in 2013. All lectures are free and open to the public.

Tuesday, September 26
“A Potted History of Festivals and Festival Making”
4:30 p.m., Sudler Recital Hall, William L. Harkness Hall

As you read this brief description, chances are several new festivals will have been inaugurated, somewhere in the world. But are such events genuine? Do they achieve that special mixture of substance and serendipity, so essential to the intriguing, immersive idea of a festival? What do we even mean when we use the word? Using the festival as a model for social and artistic engagement, Jonathan Mills explores aspects of the complex relationships between ritual and place, habit and space, that throughout history have come to define an illusive, fragile, universal though diverse phenomenon – a festival.

Thursday, October 5
“A State of the Arts”
The case for cosmopolitanism – putting culture at the center of multiculturalism
5 p.m., Whitney Humanities Center, Auditorium

We live in a world that faces huge challenges: exploding population growth, diminishing natural resources, vanishing indigenous cultures, increasing tribalism and bitter localized feuds, human dislocation of unprecedented dimensions, large-scale suffering from easily preventable or treatable diseases. It is increasingly evident that we will not be able to rationalize or legislate, let alone engineer, our way beyond our current predicaments. Culture is a prism through which to perceive the equilibrium of any society. The value of the arts has an inestimable impact on not only the vibrancy of the world we create, but also on the ways in which such challenges might be addressed.  Jonathan Mills explores ways in which one might conceive of a central role for an engagement with culture as an essential element of understanding, imagining, and realizing our social and economic well-being.

Monday, October 9
“Artists and Communities – Performing the City”
6:30 p.m., Paul Rudolph Hall, Yale School of Architecture, Hastings Hall (basement level) 

“Just as places are sensed, senses are placed” – Maurice Merleau Ponty

How do we respond to the intimate details of our surroundings? Our homes, or streets? Our neighborhoods and offices? Our urban, or, decreasingly, our rural environments? Driving through a city, a town, a neighborhood, even within speed limits, how much do we really notice? Are the textures and assemblages of buildings and streetscapes, landmarks and landscapes, ever more than fleeting glances? Are we doing anything other than passing through? Do we truly inhabit or celebrate the places in which we work, love, or play? What kind of sensory relationships exist within these familiar places? Do we perform, through ritual or reverie, consciously or intuitively, simple acts of recognition to reflect upon and evoke the places in which we live  and how those places and spaces transform over time? Jonathan Mills explores the idea of performance as a way in which we might want to inhabit and reimagine our place in the world.

Tuesday, October 24
Improvisation and Leadership”
5 p.m., Evans Hall, Yale School of Management, Room 4410

How stable or predictable is our world? Can we truly know what the future holds for any of us? Are we in control of our lives or livelihoods? Or is life nothing more than a great big improvisation? The very word “improvisation” conjures images of mellow musicians spontaneously sparking off one another in remarkable and ingenious ways.  The idea of improvisation is much more than a musical phenomenon. In so many ways, and in a wide variety of professional circumstances, at some stage in our careers, we are all called upon to improvise. How we choose to respond to such moments can define our personal, professional, and ethical achievements. Drawing on a range of personal experiences, Jonathan Mills proposes to develop a repertoire of improvisational scenarios and link them to the insights of leadership.

Published September 15, 2017
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YSM now accepting applications for fall 2018 enrollment

Violinist Wynton Grant ’17MM. Photo by Matt Fried

The School of Music is now accepting applications for enrollment in fall 2018. “We have openings in all areas, including the tuba and harpsichord studios and the orchestral conducting program,” Donna Yoo, YSM’s director of admissions and alumni affairs, said. “It is unusual for us to have available spaces across all programs, and we are looking forward to welcoming new students to all areas of study.”

The Admissions Office anticipates interest in the School’s revamped B.A./M.M. program, which is now open to applications from high-school seniors. The program, Yoo said, “should appeal to students who are interested in pursuing both academic and musical excellence at an Ivy League institution.”

The School will announce available fellowship opportunities in December. These would include openings in the string quartet fellowship program and the recently launched collaborative piano program. Applications for the Morse Postgraduate Teaching Artist Fellowship will also be accepted starting in December.

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Published September 15, 2017
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Convocation 2017 defines YSM as place for “Music Among Friends”

School of Music Dean Robert Blocker often describes music as “the currency of hope” and has long championed the School’s commitment to inclusivity and diversity. That commitment was reiterated emphatically on Thursday night in his 2017 Convocation speech, “Music Among Friends,” in which he celebrated “courage, inclusivity and diversity, connectedness, tolerance and respect, and compassion.” Upon its founding, he said, “the School of Music opened wide its doors and heart to all those who brought their gifts of talent and intellectual curiosity to campus.” Today, Blocker pointed out, the School stands in solidarity with those whose place in our community hangs in the balance.

“All of us bring anxieties, concerns, and even fears about the human condition to this room tonight,” he told new and returning students, faculty, staff, alumni, and guests, “for we live in a time in which human dignity and indeed humanity are being assaulted throughout the world. Nothing, I think, is as incomprehensible and unimaginable as the vengeful rescindment of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, known as DACA. Now, these young people we call Dreamers live with fear rather than hope. This action touches our community profoundly because we are witnesses to the deep grief and stressful uncertainty these Dreamers and their families suddenly face. I do believe reasonable and compassionate leaders among us hear and feel the anguished cries of Dreamers and that they, with our encouragement and support, will find a way to keep their American dream alive.”

Connecting YSM’s values to its mission, Blocker said, “music teaches us that every voice is distinct and important, that each is necessary for harmony, and that is precisely why we know that our combined voices will help repair our troubled world.”

Following University Provost Benjamin Polak’s installation of the incoming class, whose members come from five continents, 25 countries, 26 states, and 58 institutions, Convocation attendees sang Schubert’s An die Musik (with Franz von Schober’s text, as translated by YSM faculty bass-baritone Richard Cross), as is School tradition. Blocker then delivered his remarks before introducing the faculty, alumni, and current students who performed as part of the ceremony.

Violinist Daniel S. Lee ’06MM ’08AD, a newly appointed faculty member in early music whose ensemble, The Sebastians, is in residence at the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments, performed Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber’s Sonata No. 3 in F major, C. 140 (from Sonatae, violino solo) with faculty harpsichordist Arthur Haas. Bass-baritone Dashon Burton ’11MM sang “Grosser Herr, o starker König,” from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248, and “Mache dich, mein Herze rein,” from the St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244, with pianist David Fung ’11MM ’13MMA ’17DMA. And violinist Sirena Huang ’19AD performed Tchaikovsky’s Valse-Scherzo, Op. 34, with pianist Lam Wong ’18MM.

The performances added punctuation to Blocker’s remarks, which concluded with him telling members of the incoming class that “here at YSM, you will experience fully the gift that is ‘Music Among Friends,’ and encouraging all in attendance, referencing a favorite story about Robert Louis Stevenson, to “take hope, and make holes in the dark with the beauty and light of your music.”

Photos by Harold Shapiro

Published September 8, 2017
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Yale Philharmonia principal conductor Peter Oundjian on “The Rite of Spring”

Peter Oundjian. Photo by Sian Richards

On Friday, September 15, the Yale Philharmonia will perform Stravinsky’s revolutionary Rite of Spring, which was written for the Ballets Russes and whose 1913 premiere in Paris sparked protests. We spoke to principal conductor Peter Oundjian about the piece, its place in history, and what the audience can expect to experience.

Q: How have stories and reports of the audience’s reaction to the premiere of The Rite of Spring framed the work’s place in the repertoire? And what should today’s audiences understand and take away from that reaction?

A: The “riot” which occurred is one of the reasons the piece achieved such prominence. If anything, it had more to do with Vaslav Nijinsky’s choreography than the music, as far as we can tell. Just imagine this first audience witnessing dancers stomping their feet for long durations, strange costumes … it was just bizarre! Stravinsky was unhappy about it; however, the events of that night stimulated him to promote the piece and make sure its excellence was appreciated.

Q: In what ways, musically, does The Rite of Spring represent a watershed moment in music history?

A: The piece is the antithesis of 300 years of development of Western art music. Everything that had come before was relatively uniform. Style and musical forms had been created. What Stravinsky did with this symphonic arch was annihilated by his new concepts. We should also remember that Czech composer Leoš Janáček’s music was radical, as well, and he was Stravinsky’s contemporary. The Rite of Spring was completely fresh and new. Harmonically, is it polytonal … it was all quite dissonant. Rhythmically, it was quite a departure from the musical norms of the day.

Q: What are your reasons for programming The Rite of Spring as part of the Yale Philharmonia’s season? In what ways and to what degree is the piece a unique teaching tool?

A: I am sure some of our students have played it before. It is, after all, one of the most important pieces in the repertoire. It is not only for the students in the orchestra, but also for our audience, who are bound to be curious to hear and witness a live performance of such a masterpiece.

Q: How do you approach the work each time you conduct the piece?

A: I think I approach it as though the pagan ritual were occurring before my eyes, and the sacrificial virgin is about to dance herself to death. It’s a new girl each time.

Q: What if anything is lost (or gained) by performing The Rite of Spring as a concert work as opposed to a fully produced ballet?

A: There is not a performance of this piece that is not ballet, in some aspects. If you come, you’ll see some sense of spectacle. The omission of the visual aspect allows people to focus on the inventiveness of the music and the power and drama behind it.

Q: Besides the obvious, what can audiences experience through a live performance of the piece that they can’t by listening to a recording?

A: To see all these musicians playing off the beat of the conductor, from an audience perspective, it’s alarming to see this being reproduced in front of your eyes. It is an extraordinary experience!

The September 15 Yale Philharmonia program includes Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, as well as Mozart’s Symphony No. 40, Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, and Tallis’ “Why Fum’th in Fight,” performed by the Yale Voxtet. Learn more and purchase tickets.

Published September 8, 2017
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YSM interns serve as Morse Academy Teaching Artists

Jesús Cortés-Sanchez, left, and Jocelyn Hernandez

Talking about Jesús Cortés-Sanchez and Jocelyn Hernandez, in the context of YSM’s Music in Schools Initiative, Associate Dean Michael Yaffe said, “They represent the reason we’re doing this.” While Cortés-Sanchez and Hernandez worked as interns in previous years, this was the first summer that they served, alongside YSM students, as Teaching Artists during the month-long Morse Summer Music Academy. They also helped Yaffe’s team in June during the School’s sixth Symposium on Music in Schools, whose focus was on “how to ensure that every child in every city in America has access to an active music life,” as Yaffe has described it.

Cortés-Sanchez and Hernandez, who are studying music education at the University of Connecticut and Western Connecticut State University, respectively (he’s a senior and she’s a junior; each is a clarinetist), are “going to be great role models for the next generation,” Yaffe said. Cortés-Sanchez and Hernandez have spent half their lives in and around the Music in Schools Initiative, starting as participants when they were middle-schoolers at John C. Daniels School of International Communication. Their participation continued through their high-school years at New Haven’s Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School. Today, they are New Haven Promise scholars and served their internships at YSM through that program.

Reflecting on what music afforded him early in his life, Cortés-Sanchez said, “It kept me busy, and as simple as that sounds, it did a lot for me. The easy thing to do would be to be in the streets.” Instead, he said, “I was focused.” Working with young people this summer during Morse Academy, he said, “I saw my reflection in a couple of students.” He also saw in them the difficulties that many families face getting students to and from Morse Academy activities, as his parents experienced when he participated in the summer program.

Hernandez, too, recognized the hardships that young people and their families endure in our community and elsewhere. This summer, she worked with an Iraqi student who was a bit culturally out of step with his peers. “As a teacher,” Hernandez said, “I will not always have kids who will know what it’s like to live here.

“Be friends with him,” she told other Morse Academy students. “Don’t make him feel like an outsider.”

Several years ago, when Hernandez lost her drive to study and play music and entertained the idea of becoming a lawyer, her music teachers helped her find the musical inspiration she’d lost. It was at that point that she decided to pursue a degree and a career in music education. “It’s about inspiring kids to be the best that they can be,” she said. “Music is a universal language, and that’s what I want to help teach.”

Cortés-Sanchez decided during his senior year of high school to become a music educator — to influence young people’s lives the way his teaches had an impact on his.

“Music is the way that these two young people found themselves, found their voices,” Yaffe said.

MUSIC IN SCHOOLS INITIATIVE
2017 SYMPOSIUM ON MUSIC IN SCHOOLS

Published August 31, 2017
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Vijay Gupta ’07MM, on music as a vehicle for social justice

Vijay Gupta

Violinist and YSM alum Vijay Gupta ’07MM is a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the founder and artistic director of Street Symphony, an organization that “serves to foster a dialogue which tells the unheard stories of the most marginalized communities in Los Angeles through the power of musical expression,” according to language on its website. We spoke with Vijay about the artist’s role in society.

Q: What experiences at Yale and the Yale School of Music, and in New Haven, inform the work you’re doing now with Street Symphony and in terms of how the arts can be a vehicle for social justice in a larger sense?

A: Well, it was two classes in particular. One was my Hearing class with Joan Panetti, which totally transformed the way that I teach and perform and collaborate. I was actually Dr. Panetti’s TA for my second whole year at YSM, so that was really, really special for me. And it’s kind of amazing, I kind of feel Dr. Panetti coming up in my voice and in my steps when I teach, so that’s very cool. The second class was a survey of late Beethoven by Markus Rathey, and he went through, I think, from Op. 90 until the end of Beethoven. And just being able to present in his class, and being able to look at the composers for who they were as people and not just as these marble busts of dead white guys, really, really changed the way that I approach playing. And it’s a direct correlation to the way that I lead programs when I play Beethoven or Schumann in a county jail, because our audiences are not interested in how well we play, they’re interested in the stories. They’re, in a sense, interested in the humanity of the composers. So those are two things that I got from those two classes. And of course I have to give credit to my amazing teacher, who was Ani Kavafian. She was just so wonderful and kind and got me to think about different aspects of my playing that I hadn’t even thought about before, but she also cared about me as a person, which was kind of new for me having come from the conservatory system. Oftentimes in those situations my personhood didn’t count as much as how well I played my etudes. But I played a lot of Baroque violin at school with ISM; I was playing with Robert Mealy and that was an extension of what I was getting from Markus Rathey’s class and from Joan Panetti’s class. It was a very natural extension of what was going on in the life of these composers as they were composing. And one direct example of how that’s showed up for me in my organization is in our Messiah project. We do a yearly sing-along of Handel’s Messiah in Skid Row at a homeless shelter. And we’ve actually now started placing formerly homeless Desert Storm combat veterans as our soloists, and we give them lessons all year long. And when you look at the situation in which Handel performed his Messiah, it wasn’t in a concert hall, it was in an orphan’s hospital, and the first concert released 142 men from debtor’s prison. So if we’re really doing authentic performance practice, if we’re really going to put our mouth where our money is with regard to what these composers were actually dreaming and thinking as they composed, then we also have to have the same kind of social understanding of what kind of music our community needs. It became very clear to me at school that these composers were writing for their communities. I’m sorry to go on a little bit here, but Bach’s passions would have been called engagement sing-along concerts today, because everybody in the audience knew those chorales and they stood up and sang them. So what’s our modern day Messiah? That’s the kind of question that I’m asking in my head right now as I lead my life and do my stuff.

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Published August 29, 2017
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Fall 2017 Admissions Visits

YSM is coming to you! We encourage you to visit with us and learn more about YSM at an admissions event this fall.

As of September 19, 2017

New England Conservatory

College Fair
Saturday, September 16, 2017
New England Conservatory
Burnes Hall
2–4 pm
Boston, MA

Peabody Conservatory

College Fair
Sunday, September 24, 2017
Peabody Conservatory
George Peabody Library
3–5 pm
Baltimore, MD

Eastman School of Music

Upstate New York Music College Fair
Thursday, September 28, 2017
Eastman School of Music
Cominsky Promenade and Kodak Hall Balcony
5–7 pm
Rochester, NY

Oberlin Conservatory

College Fair
Monday, October 9, 2017
Oberlin Conservatory
Carnegie Building, Root Room
4:30–6:30 pm
Oberlin, OH

Juilliard Pre-College

College Forum
Saturday, October 14, 2017
5-7pm
New York, NY

Houston Youth Symphony

Sunday, October 15, 2017
Houston, TX

High School for the Performing and Visual Arts

Monday, October 16, 2017
Houston, TX

Rice University

NACAC Performing and Visual Arts College Fair
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
6:30–8:30 pm
Houston, TX

Irving Convention Center, Dallas, TX

NACAC Performing and Visual Arts College Fair
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
6:30–8:30 pm
Dallas, TX

Published August 16, 2017
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YSM announces revamped B.A/M.M. degree program

High-school students can now apply to the Yale School of Music’s bachelor of arts/master of music program. Previously open only to Yale College students making plans for graduate school, the revamped degree path allows high-school students to plan simultaneously for college and graduate school. The program is designed for outstanding instrumentalists who are also interested in pursuing a liberal-arts education.

As had been and remains the case, Yale College students can apply to the program during their junior year. Now, high-school students everywhere can apply to attend college and graduate school at Yale. That is, admission to the five-year program is through acceptance into both Yale College and the School of Music, either after the third year of the College’s bachelor of arts program or before matriculation into Yale College.

The program, in its expanded form, offers undergraduates the opportunity to spread master’s-degree course requirements and study with YSM faculty over the course of five years. Similarly, Yale College students who begin the program in their senior year can complete some requirements toward their master’s degrees before graduating and enrolling at the School of Music.

The revamped B.A./M.M. program should be particularly appealing to pre-college students who might otherwise have trouble deciding whether to go the conservatory or university route. YSM’s B.A./M.M. degree offers students the opportunity to pursue both degrees at the highest levels of education, and at the only music school in the Ivy League.

Among those who’ve taken advantage of the program are Philadelphia Orchestra assistant conductor Kensho Watanabe ’09BS ’10MM, who studied biology at Yale College and violin at YSM, and Charlotte Symphony Orchestra principal flutist Victor Wang ’14BS ’15MM, who also studied biology at Yale College and received his master’s degree from YSM.

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Published August 15, 2017
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Paolo Bortolameolli named assistant conductor at LA Phil

Paolo Bortolameolli

Conductor Paolo Bortolameolli ’13MM has been appointed an assistant conductor to Music and Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel at the Los Angeles Philharmonic for the upcoming season. Bortolameolli previously served as a Dudamel Fellow, an initiative, Dudamel said in a press release, that “continues the LA Phil’s commitment to supporting and training the next generation of exceptional conductors.”

While at YSM, Bortolameolli was an assistant conductor of the Yale Philharmonia. He has served as a cover conductor for Marin Alsop at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and led the New Haven Chamber Orchestra during his final year at Yale.

A native of Chile, Bortolameolli has worked with the top ensembles in that country including Orquesta Filarmónica de Santiago, Orquesta Sinfónica de Chile, Orquesta de la Universidad de Concepción, Orquesta USACH, Orquesta de Cámara de Chile, and Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional Juvenil.

PRESS RELEASE
PAOLO BORTOLAMEOLLI

Published August 1, 2017
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Alumna Olivia Malin ’07MM, on choosing a career as a music educator

Olivia Malin works with students at KAPPA International High School

Trumpeter Olivia Malin ’07MM, who studied with Allan Dean and worked in the Music in Schools Initiative during her time at YSM, is entering her 11th year as a public-school music educator and teaches at KAPPA International High School in the Bronx, New York. Malin spoke with us recently about being inspired, as a student, to pursue a career in education despite the pressure she felt to focus on performance.

Q: You were a Teaching Artist in YSM’s Music in Schools Initiative. How did that program prepare you for what you’re doing now at KAPPA International High School?
A: While I was a student at YSM, I was also working in the Music in Schools Initiative. At first I stayed firmly in my comfort zone, teaching elementary/middle school brass group lessons. Midyear, I was branching out to woodwinds and percussion, and in the spring, I was running full band rehearsals when the band director wanted to do isolated lessons himself. I also began working with first- to third-graders learning piano and guitar. My second year in the program, I was placed at a high school where I got the opportunity to teach higher-level lessons and music, and to assist teaching AP music theory. The varied placement over those two years gave me a significant taste of what teaching K-12 would be like, with significant hours teaching piano, guitar, band, and general music classes. Even more important, the program was the first exposure that opened my eyes to what urban schools need, and what they don’t need, from me. At KAPPA, I now teach rock band, guitar, IB music, band, beginner band, and chorus – and I have also taught piano and general music – so the majority of classes I helped with at YSM are in fact what I teach full-time now.

Q: Did you know or think, upon enrolling at Yale, that you’d become a music teacher?
A: I have always taught private trumpet lessons, but no, I never thought I would be a full-time music teacher. We all know the stigma that exists about music teaching, and I admit I used to believe that only those performers who weren’t very good would end up as educators. It’s an easy thing to believe, since once a person becomes a teacher, it’s pretty difficult to maintain a high level of performance on their instrument, and most people don’t see the “performance level” of teaching. It’s hidden in the classroom – your audience is 30 students who don’t always applaud. One of the most difficult barriers I broke through was deciding that public-school teaching would be a higher calling than performing. There is so much outside pressure in the performance world not to become a teacher, and that pressure shows up constantly in little ways from friends, teachers, family, and the general public.

[Prof. Dean, Malin said, “is a wonderful teacher who taught me well and supported me through this decision to switch to teaching, something I think not all professors would be able to do.”] 

Q: What informed your decision to transition from focusing on performance to focusing on education?
A: What I started noticing was that my levels of happiness and self-worth after teaching at Lincoln-Bassett School or Wilbur Cross High School were significantly higher than those after an orchestral rehearsal or concert. I also noticed that I looked forward to being around the students – learning from them and laughing with them as much as teaching them content – much more than I expected. Their energy in the band room was so fresh and vibrant that I wanted more and more hours teaching in the program, and I spent extra time there after my paid time expired. The real moment, however, was when Associate Dean Michael Yaffe approached me sitting in (operations manager) Tara Deming’s office one day. He started talking about me to other people in the office, about what great teaching looked like and that he saw amazing potential in me when he saw how I lit up around students. In that short conversation, I saw something in myself that had until that point been a hobby, something I was good at and made a little money at, but which had never been a true option. Hearing him say those things out loud suddenly gave the green light to a career I hadn’t realized was a possibility – and a highly respectable possibility validated by the associate dean.

Q: What would you tell incoming YSM students who’re starting to think about what their careers might look like after school?
A: Be open to absolutely anything, say yes to everything, and be professional constantly. The music scene for you can be a combination of so many fulfilling things that it makes no sense to pigeonhole yourself early on. Don’t rule anything out simply because of generalizations – they may not apply to you! I am going into my 11th year of public school teaching. I am a proud high-school teacher in the Bronx and a trumpet player in a salsa band in Manhattan – and I wouldn’t change anything about my life.

Published August 1, 2017
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