Vivaldi Music Academy at Kennedy Center
by Bernadette Verzosa
On any given summer day, you can find 8-year-old Emiliano del Valle playing soccer with his friends, swimming, writing or creating stop-motion movies. But before all the activity, he starts his mornings on the piano, in his pajamas. This week, he is practicing a piece by composer Johann Sebastian Bach.
“When I walk past the piano, I just feel like I want to play. Playing piano makes me feel confident,” he says.
Emiliano is preparing for his recital at a historical venue: the prestigious Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. He is one of more than 40 students and faculty members from Vivaldi Music Academy in Houston who are traveling for the out-of-state recital. “I am excited to play my piece in the capital of the United States. I’ve been working on this for so long,” he says.
“I see in him a sense of pride. He wants to make sure he performs well. He feels that this is special.” says Trienet del Valle.
This is the third year in a row that Vivaldi Music Academy has chosen an extraordinary location for its summer recital. Last year, students and staff performed at the historic Vivaldi Church in Venice, Italy. Two years ago, the recital was held at world-renowned Carnegie Hall in New York City.
“It makes me so happy for him that he can do this and that Vivaldi has created this opportunity for him,” says mom Trienet del Valle who’s sentimental about her son’s passion for piano.
“I get emotional watching Emiliano play the piano because it is a legacy, a continuation in my family. My grandmother played the piano, my parents played and I played the piano my whole life,” she says.
Del Valle and her husband registered Emiliano and her other two children have taken instrument lessons at Vivaldi Music Academy.
“Music enriches your life. So we wanted to open the door for our children, to expose them,” she says. “I like Vivaldi’s philosophy of teaching – one size does not fit all. My children have different personalities. For example, my daughter is sporty. We needed a teacher who would allow her to play pieces she wants to play like Bohemian Rhapsody and jazz.”
Vivaldi Music Academy presents its summer recital at the Kennedy Center on June 23. The program includes students and faculty playing a range of genres – from popular music to classical pieces – and a variety of instruments – from piano and violin to banjo and drums.
“We chose Kennedy Center because it’s a cultural hub. It’s the busiest performing arts center in the country, a huge complex with multiple theaters. It has historical significance and musical significance,” says Zeljko Pavlovic, owner of Vivaldi Music Academy. “We’ve had a tremendous response. It’s so exhilarating seeing so many interested people. Families make an educational vacation out of it. Learning about these places in school, it helps that it’s in a nice city and historical place.
VIVALDI EVOLUTION: CHOIR, STRINGS ENSEMBLE & GROUP GUITAR
Vivaldi Music Academy opened its West University studios in 2013. Last year, they opened second location in Bellaire. The school now has 50 faculty members and more than 1,500 students.
“We knew there was a need for high-quality music education. Although people have always known that music is integral part of children’s education, more parents are even more cognizant of it and they consider it part of a well-rounded education,” says Pavlovic.
Vivaldi Music Academy has also built a reputation of being responsive to the needs and requests of Houston families. For example, its “Vivaldi Seasons” early childhood music program was created to prepare young children for instruments – students learn about composers and some music notation.
“We’ve expanded to meet what people are interested in and what they want to learn. It leads into expanding their palette,” says Pavlovic.
The school is also adding options for other group lessons to enhance learning. It now also offers a Children’s Choir for kids ages 6-10, a Strings Ensemble and Group Guitar.
“It’s a good mix to have both individual and group lessons for maximum benefit,” says Pavlovic. “Students enjoy the social aspect of group classes, the collaboration. But students first need private lessons to make sure they develop good habits and discover their individual style.”