Vivaldi Music Academy Students Perform at Carnegie Hall
FIRST STOP: NYC, NEXT STOP: VENICE, ITALY
*Note to Parents: Vivaldi Music Academy recently developed and launched its own Early Childhood Music Classes called VIVALDI SEASONS. Classes focus on narrow age ranges: 9 month – 2 years, 2 – 3 years, 3 – 4 years and 4 – 5 years.
by Bernadette Verzosa
It was an exhilarating summer evening. Forty children from the Houston area performed at the prestigious Carnegie Hall in New York City. They are students at Vivaldi Music Academy and they filled the hall with music, playing pieces on the piano, violin and cello. “We took kids and adults of all skill levels, some were beginners. We created an opportunity to see and play at this incredible hall and really dream big. Dream big is what we do here at Vivaldi. It teaches them that anything is possible, not just musically, anything is possible in life,” says owner and director Zeljko Pavlovic.
Pavlovic says the Carnegie Hall event was open to all of the academy’s students and served to inspire them. “It makes a huge difference in their practicing. You can see it in their eyes. Everyone came home full of life,” he says.
Many students traveled with their families including 10-year-old Julia Nguyen of Bellaire who played a piece on the piano by the composer Frederic Chopin. “I will remember the performance for the rest of my life. The experience made playing piano more exciting,” she said.
Her parents and younger brother were in the audience. “Watching our daughter perform on that stage was surreal. We could not be more proud,” says her mom Tammy Tran Nguyen.
Pavlovic, a Houston dad and violinist, started the school in 2013. He was searching for a music academy for his son and couldn’t find one that met his standards. “It was sad for me to see that many lessons were being taught at the back of a guitar store. There had to be a better way. That’s when I had the idea of creating a school that’s on par with the best music schools. There is so much talent in Houston. Some of the best musicians are here. That’s why we have an amazing faculty.”
Pavlovic personally conducts a series of interviews to select instructors. “I always interview them as a teacher for my own son. You take that filter and you’re good. Even though we’re so large, I interview every teacher multiple times,” he explains.
The dynamic approach is working. In 2014, Vivaldi was named National Music School of the Year by the organization Music Academy Success. And this year, the academy opened its second location in Bellaire. In two and a half years, about 1,000 students are registered for lessons with dozens more families on the waiting list.
Pavlovic was partly motivated to open a music academy because of his musical pedigree. He comes from generations of musicians on both sides of his family. He came to the United States from Eastern Europe as a refugee. “The war started in 1992. I was 14 years old and we were homeless in Sarajevo. We moved to Minnesota with help from a sponsor family,” he says.
In 2004, Pavlovic moved to Houston with his wife Uma, a physician at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
The couple now has two children, 6-year-old Alexander and 4-year-old Natalia.
As a salute to life in the United States, Pavlovic performed Yankee Doodle at Carnegie Hall with his father and his son. “It was dear to my heart. We were three generations and we rocked that Yankee Doodle. My 72-year-old dad played the tambura, a folk instrument from Serbia,” he fondly recalls.
Vivaldi Music Academy may expand to the Memorial area in the following years. “This Houston community is incredible. People really care about high-quality education for their kids,” Pavlovic says. “Our plan is to satisfy this community. Our goal is to build our own facility and consolidate.”Meanwhile, students are planning another very special recital – this time it’s a tribute to the academy’s namesake Baroque composer Antonio Vivaldi, and it’s overseas. In June, more than a dozen Houston families from the academy plan to take their young artists to perform at the historic Vivaldi’s Church in Venice, Italy.
“Our students and faculty will perform ensembles, duets and solos,” says Pavlovic, “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity like Carnegie Hall.