By Janice Malone
Nashville, TN — Nashville Symphony has announced that four local students have been selected for the second class of Accelerando, the groundbreaking music education initiative designed to facilitate the studies of gifted young musicians from diverse backgrounds and prepare them for careers in music. All of the students are from Middle Tennessee. The new students are:
• Angelina Bautista, oboe: Grade 8, JFK Middle School, MNPS
• Xayvion Davidson, bassoon: Grade 8, Rose Park Middle School, MNPS
• Riya Mitra, violin: Grade 8, Sunset Middle School, Williamson County Schools
• McKane (Max) Robinson, trombone: Grade 7, Head Middle Magnet School, MNPS
Launched in 2016, Accelerando seeks to create opportunities for musicians from ethnic communities underrepresented in today’s orchestras by providing them with instruction, mentorship, performance experience and assistance applying to music schools. The program is part of a nationwide effort among American ensembles to ensure that the orchestras of tomorrow reflect the richness and diversity of the communities they serve.
The four students were introduced during an event at Schermerhorn Symphony Center last month. Several members of the Nashville Symphony staff were in attendance, including chief operating officer Steve Brosvik and director of education and community engagement Walter Bitner. The four new students will join the six members of the inaugural class of Accelerando, bringing the total number of participants in the program to 10.
“Each of these students possesses the talent and drive to make an impact on the future of American orchestras,” said Kimberly Kraft McLemore, Accelerando program manager. “They represent the Nashville Symphony’s commitment to ensuring that young people from across Middle Tennessee have access to the highest-quality music education, and I’m excited to watch their growth and development in the coming years.”
In March, nearly three dozen students took part in auditions for Accelerando, which were adjudicated by Nashville Symphony musicians. The four participants were chosen last month and will begin private lessons starting this month. It’s not an easy program to get accepted into. Accelerando has an intensive curriculum. Each of the students will participate in their local youth orchestras, will have the opportunity to participate in master classes, and will be provided complimentary tickets to the Nashville Symphony’s Aegis Sciences Classical Series.
Thirteen-year-old Xayvion Davidson is one of the four new students that’s been accepted into the new Accelerando class. The bassoon is his favorite instrument, which he’s played for the last three years. The bassoon makes beautiful music but physically speaking, the size of the instrument can look a bit challenging for a young student. But that’s not the case with Xayvion. “No, I’ve never thought the bassoon was scary looking. I’ve always loved it. One of the songs I enjoy playing on the bassoon is Man in the Mirror,” says Xayvion during the recent media event at Schermerhorn. The talented young eighth grader showed an interest in music as early as age seven but it was for the piano at the time. “Back then my dad and brother would be playing video games. And I wanted to play too. Sometimes my dad would just say, ‘Son go practice your piano lessons. I did the piano lessons until I was eight and then I just got enough of the piano,” he shares with a laugh. Today, Xayvion keeps his full attention on the bassoon and says he would one day like to become a professional classical musician.
Like Xayvion, 12-year-old McKane (Max) Robinson was also one of the four students accepted into the new Accelerando class. “Getting into the Accelerando program takes a lot of hard work and commitment. I’m so happy to be here,” says Max, who’s been playing trombone for two years. According to Max, it was while watching TV one day, his mom first told him about the Accelerando program, and so the process began. Max has plans to one day become a professional classical musician. “I am very inspired by Nashville Symphony trombonist Paul Jenkins,” reveals Max. “I hope to be just as good as he is as a professional musician, or perhaps even better. So, I want to be a great trombonist like Paul Jenkins and a professional classical musician too, all at the same time.” In addition to classical music, Max also has a love for other genres of music—particularly jazz and pop music. Two of his favorite songs to play on the trombone is the Star Wars theme song, which he has totally memorized, and the classic jazz song “Sing Sing Sing.”
The two other new Accelerando students are Angelina Bautista and Riya Mitra.
Angelina Bautista is a thirteen-year-old eighth grader attending John F. Kennedy Middle Prep in Metro Nashville Public Schools and has been playing oboe since the fifth grade. She participated in the 2016 MNPS Middle School Honor Band and earned second chair in the Symphonic Band. Angelina also received a superior rating in MTSBOA Solo and Ensemble and has auditioned for Mid-State Honor Band.
Riya Mitra is a thirteen-year-old eighth grader who attends Sunset Middle School in Williamson County Schools. She has been playing the violin since she was seven years old, and has been studying privately with Paul Johnian for six years and under Louise Morrison of the Nashville Symphony through the Accelerando audition process. Riya has participated in many orchestras, including Blair’s Summer Repertory Camp, the Williamson County Youth Orchestra, and her middle school’s strings ensemble, where she is the concertmaster. She has also participated in MTSBOA Mid-State Honor Band, earning fourth chair, first violin during her 7th-grade year. Riya’s older sister, Diya, is a big inspiration in her violin journey because they both play the violin and she is always learning from Diya’s experiences.
Accelerando is a program of the Nashville Symphony, in partnership with Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music, Metro Nashville Public Schools, Conexión Américas and Choral Arts Link.