2016 Student Spotlights

January, 2016

Our January MusicLink Student Spotlight is on Khoi Hoang. Khoi has been playing piano for nine years. Now in 8th grade, Khoi has studied with Dr. Debra Sostrin through MusicLink since 2012. Dr. Sostrin describes Khoi as passionate about music, dedicated and hard-working, and playing with remarkable maturity and expressivity. In the past year alone, Khoi has performed at studio recitals, the “In Good Hands" Cascadia Composers Concert (where students play contemporary works by local composers), a Master Class at the Oregon Music Teachers Association (OMTA) Summer Conference, several recitals sponsored by the Piano Santa Foundation, and earned “Winner" in the OMTA Romantic and Ensemble Festivals. Khoi was the winner of this summer's Piano Santa Grand Scholarship Competition, awarding him the use of a grand piano for the next two years. Khoi also plays regularly for services and weddings at his church. He maintains a 4-hand piano partnership and participates in a Young Composers club. Khoi also loves to draw, play basketball, and is active in numerous clubs at his school, and can solve Rubik's Cube puzzles in the blink of an eye. In addition to all this, Khoi has an excellent academic record, having earned the President's Education Award of Outstanding Academic Excellence and maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA. Khoi says, “Music helps me express my emotions and comforts me when I am feeling down. Having the use of a grand piano allows me to explore a whole new realm of music and techniques, which helps me advance my skills in piano playing." We congratulate Khoi on his accomplishments, and wish him luck in the future!


March, 2016

Our March Student Spotlight is on John Lopez, a tenth grader from Annandale, Virginia.

It all started when one of John's teachers heard him singing one day after school when he was in sixth grade. She was so struck by the beauty and maturity of his voice that she took him to the choral office and asked him to sing for the teacher. The choral teacher then referred him to Joan Jurenas, and he began studying privately with her the summer before seventh grade. He had stumbled onto Luciano Pavarotti on YouTube and wanted to sing opera like him. John enrolled in MusicLink three years ago, and in addition to his voice lessons, he began private piano lessons with Ruth Locker two years ago. John was also fortunate to be provided a piano through MusicLink. He won his first scholarship from NVMTA two years ago--the Judy Leonard Memorial Scholarship--after auditioning for the scholarship committee. He won Division 1a as an 8th grader in NVMTA's Voice Achievement Awards event and sang in the Honors Recital for awardees at the end of that season. Last month John participated in the Spring Auditions for the Virginia Chapter of National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), held this year at George Mason University. He won first place in his division, Lower High School Men -- Classical Voice. He sang in the Honors Recital at the end of the conference, in which all first-place finishers of the various categories are invited to sing. By ballot among the voice teacher membership after the recital, John was voted an additional award: Superlative Award for Best High School Male Classical Singer. John also had the opportunity to participate in Washington National Opera's Associates Program in Fall 2014. He attended rehearsals and events surrounding one of the operas in the WNO season. John even sang for the tenor on the plaza of the Kennedy Center.

John is a very valuable member of his high school's chorus program, and this fall John decided to try his hand at acting and auditioned for his school's production of Les Misérables. Katie Brunberg, the Theatre Arts Director at his school, said, "I'll never forget the look on his face when I said to him, ‘John... I need you to sing... less pretty.' By the time we reached show week, John's acting was right on par with the other boys. He commanded the stage as the bumbling Grantaire, poking fun at Marius' love for Cosette. He was an audience favorite with a high-pitched character laugh to contrast the sobering stare of Enjolras. I am so proud of how far he has come in such a short time and look forward to his continued success in all of his artistic endeavors!"

His voice teacher, Joan Jurenas, said, "John is a naturally born talented singer. He expresses so much emotion through his gorgeous voice in a way that is mature beyond his years. He is developing his voice with care and attention to detail. I am grateful to have been able to teach him. I am very proud of him and his achievements."


May, 2016

Our May Student Spotlight is on Erika Roderick, a 14-year-old from Minnesota. She began studying piano through MusicLink with Diane Alveshere seven years ago after hearing her cousins play the piano. According to Diane, she has studied diligently, and developed a style uniquely her own with ultimate expression. Together they have studied all types of music....ragtime, swing-style, show tunes, classical, and tunes by today’s composers. Erika attended a Christian grade school where she was able to share her music on several occasions at chapel. Now in 8th grade, she not only plays piano, but has started playing the flute in the school band. In addition to maintaining excellent grades at school, she is very active and excels in volleyball, soccer and track. Her mother said, "Her musical talent would never have been developed to the level it is at without the leadership, guidance and knowledge of her teacher, Diane Alveshere, and the support of the MusicLink program. Through MusicLink, Erika received a full size electric keyboard and stand. Now she is able to have the piano in her room where she can go on at any time and practice, wind down, vent, celebrate and express herself through music. Her piano teacher and music overall have been such a positive experience in her life, she fully intends to continue growing and developing her music education in college. Thank you to the MusicLink Foundation for making music possible in her life!"

When asked about how her piano lessons with Diane have impacted her life, Erika said, "She is my role model, a close friend, and she means so much to me. I really enjoy playing piano because it is an accomplishment of mine that I am very proud of and will keep pursuing because I enjoy it a lot. It is also very relaxing and touches me deep down on a personal level. Piano and music have a special place in my heart. I am so lucky to have a teacher as wonderful as mine to show me just how amazing piano can be and to help me throughout my piano career with learning new things and teaching me how to get better. Without her I would not be where I am today."

Erika has participated in two recitals each year of her study; one at the Viking Plaza Mall in Alexandria for family, friends and shoppers, and a Spring Recital at the end of each piano year. Diane said, "She loves to perform for her peers and is proud of her accomplishments, but always in a humble way. What a joy it has been to be Erika’s piano teacher."