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RECENT ACHIEVEMENTS AND CRITICAL ACCLAIM FOR OUR

YMCO ALUMNI

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Elena Pinderhughes  (YMP Graduating Class of 2013; Manhattan School of Music, Class of 2017) reviewed in NY Times for recent performance with Christian aTunde Adjuah, formerly Christian Scott.

 

Click here to read the article.

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Elena Pinderhughes (YMP Graduating Class of 2013; Manhattan School of Music, Class of 2017) is a recording Jazz vocalist and flutist. She began singing and playing the flute when she was 7 years old and joined YMP at the age of 8. By age 9, she had already recorded her first CD, "Catch 22." At age 11, Elena was featured in an HBO special on young musicians entitled, "The Music in Me." She has won numerous awards for "Best Soloist" at jazz festivals and from DownBeat Magazine, including 3 Grammys for Teens. Elena graduated Berkeley High School in 2013, as the recipient of the 2013 Presidential Scholar Recipient and 2013 YoungArts Gold Award.

 

Elena has now graduated Manhattan School of Music as a recipient of the Joseph F. McCrindle Scholarship. She has studied with Linda Chesis and Gretchen Parlato, amongst others.

 

Although Elena is only 24 years old, she has already performed alongside legends Herbie Hancock, Hubert Laws, Kenny Barron, Esperanza Spalding, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Ambrose Akinmusire, Vijay Iyer, Carlos Santana, Orlando "Maraca" Valle, Stefon Harris, Omar Sosa, Joshua Redman, Kamasi Washington, Josh Groban, Patrice Rushen, Rodrick Dixon, Alfreda Burke, Frederica von Stade, the late Ndugu Chancler, Future (Coachella 2017), Lupe Fiasco, the Grammy Band and Choir, and many more.

 

She has performed in several venues such as the White House, Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, The Walt Disney Concer† Hall, Hollywood Bowl, The Met Philadelphia, The Aretha Franklin Amphitheater, UC Berkeley's Greek Theatre, SF Jazz, Yoshi's Jazz Club, Davies Symphony Hall, The Jazz Standard, Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, The Jazz Gallery, and Coachella. Elena has performed in several festivals and clubs throughout Europe, Japan, and South America.

 

Elena has been featured in several albums, including Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah's Stretch Music, which debuted at No. 7 on Billboard. She has also recorded on Ambrose Akinmusire's Blue Note album, "The Imagined Savior is Far Easier to Paint," Wayne Wallace's Grammy-nominated album, "Latin Jazz, Jazz Latin," and performed in the premiere of Vijay Iyer's work, "Open City." Additionally, Elena recorded a solo cut on rapper Common's single, "Red Wine," which appears in his 11th album, Black America Again. Elena has also played and toured internationally with Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah and Stefan Harris.

Elena is currently very booked and busy; she has just finished touring with Herbie Hancock and Kamasi Washington, as well as working on her debut album. Stay tuned!

 

Samora Pinderhughes (YMP Graduating Class of 2009; Julliard School of Music, Class of 2013) is a recording artist, jazz pianist, and composer. He embarked on his musical journey at the age of 2, studying Venezuelan and Cuban percussion. He went on to joining YMP on Jazz piano and discovered that he had a passion for composition. Samora recorded his first album at the age of 13, titled " La Peña."

 

Samora graduated from YMP in 2009 and went on to study Jazz piano at the Julliard School of Music on a full scholarship, graduating in 2013. While there, he was able to compose and record "The Transformation Suite," an album where he combined jazz and poetry. It included spoken words from Martin Luther King Jr. Malcolm X, and Tupac Shakur.

 

Samora has had the honor of studying with Kenny Barron, Benny Green, Patrice Rushen, Frank Foster, Frank Kimbrough, Rodney Whitaker, the late Ndugu Chancler, the late Marcus Belgrave, and Kendall Briggs. He has performed with artists such as Branford Marsalis, Ron Carter, Harvey Mason, and Hubert Laws.

 

His performance venues include the White House, Carnegie Hall, The Blue Note, Alice Tully Hall, Dizzy's Coca-Cola Club, Yoshi's Jazz Club, Monterey Jazz Festival, San Jose Jazz Festival, Caramoor Music Festival, Moan Music Festival, the Museum of Natural History, and the Masonic Auditorium, as well as music venues throughout Brazil, Cuba, Japan, Australia,Colombia, Costa Rica, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy.

 

In April 2018, Samora premiered his second suite, VENUS, featuring J Period, in New York's (Le) Poisson Rouge.

 

Most recently, Samora has been attending Harvard University after being awarded the Soros Justice Fellowship.

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Sean Erick (YMP Graduating Class of 2003; Berklee College of Music, Graduating Class of 2006) first picked up the trumpet in elementary school and continued to excel all throughout his middle and high school career. He attended the famous Berklee College of Music in Boston, graduating a year early, and then moved to L.A. to pursue a career in contemporary music recording and performance. Sean currently plays trumpet and flugelhorn in the Regiment Horns, the Los Angeles-based trio he co-founded with trombonist Kevin Williams and saxophonist Leon Silva. They are part of Justin Timberlake’s backup band, the TN Kids.

 

Sean and The Regiment Horns have recorded with some of the industry's biggest names and played some of the world's most prominent and recognizable stages. They have recorded on albums with the following: Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Solange Knowles, Mary J. Blige, Jill Scott, Lady Gaga, Kelly Clarkson, Lil Wayne, Drake Bell, and many more.

Live performances include: Stevie Wonder, Cyndi Lauper, Smokey Robinson, Lauryn Hill, Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, Chaka Khan, Jennifer Hudson, Queen Latifah, Bruno Mars, Lupe Fiasco, A$AP Rocky, The Weeknd, Coldplay, Robin Thicke, Keri Hilson, Ne-Yo, Akon, Keshia Cole, Brandy, Fantasia, Leona Lewis, Tony Braxton, Busta Rhymes, Bobby Brown, Tori Kelly, and Meghan Trainor, amongst many more.

TV and award show performances include: BET Awards (14), Jimmy Kimmel Live (6), The Ellen DeGeneres Show (4), The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon (2), Lopez Tonight (2), The Oscar's, The Grammy Awards, The Brit Awards, Saturday Night Live, MTV's Video Music Awards, TNT's NBA All-Star Pre-game Show, and many more.

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Kendra Broom (YMP Graduating Class of 2009; Manhattan School of Music, Graduating Class of 2013; Curtis Institute of Music, Graduating Class of 2015) is a critically acclaimed mezzo-soprano known praised for her vocal ability to "move, perplex, and stimulate," according to the New York Times. She graduated from YMP in 2009 and went on to study vocal performance at the Manhattan School of Music on a full scholarship. Kendra then went on to the Curtis Institute of Music, where she received a Master of Music in Opera degree.

 

Kendra is currently performing in several operas, most of which she has received the lead role or the solo alto part. In 2016, she made her Carnegie Hall debut in Berio's Sinfonia with French conductor Ludovic Morlot and the Curtis Symphony Orchestra. Kendra also received critical acclaim as Cherubino in Mozart's Le Nozzi di Figaro at Philadelphia's Kimmel Center. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, she is "in voice and character, a perfect Cherubino."

 

Kendra's other repertoire includes the role of Jack in the first fully-staged U.S. performance of Ethel Smyth's The Wreckers, conducted by Leon Botstein, the alto soloist in Mozart's Requiem, the alto soloist in Beethoven's 9th Symphony, the alto soloist in Menotti's Missa O Pulchritudo, the role of Melisande in Debussy's Pellèas et Mèlisande, the role of Nicolette in Prokofiev's The Love for Three Orange, and several more.

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Thérèse  Chaix  (YMP Graduating Class of 2011; Manhattan School of Music, Class of 2015) won a full scholarship to attend the NYU/ASCAP Film Scoring Program, where she conducted members of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, while they played HER compositions. She was there for 2 weeks.

 

She then went on to the Talis Festival and Academy in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, a tuition free academy. There were daily readings of Thérèse's chamber pieces and concerts at the end of the two-week period.  

 

Thérèse closed her summer experiences with two weeks in Paris to visit the Conservatoire de Paris, where she returned for her Masters in Classical Composition, upon graduating from Manhattan School of Music.

 

Thérèse is now an award-winning composer and multidisciplinary artist. She holds a Bachelor of Music as a recipient of the Ludmila Ulehla Composition Scholarship. Most recently, Thérèse has spent a year studying under the tutelage of renowned German composer, Isabel Mundry in Zurich Switzerland. Recent commissions include a 16-part choral piece premiered in New York City by Maestro Harold Rosenbaum and The New York Virtuoso Singers. er song, Rain That Swims, with words by Pablo Picasso, was premiered at the Zurcher Hochschule Der Künste and performed at the Hochschule Fur Musik und Theater München. Recent honors include an ASCAP Morton Gould Award for her orchestral work, Strange Bird.

Most recently, Thérèse has founded Natural Harmonik, a "creative agency building bespoke sonic worlds for creatives, brands, and films."

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2014 Senior Akintunde Ahmad on Ellen DeGeneres!

YMCO French Hornist, Akintunde Ahmad (YMCO Graduating Class of 2014; Yale University, Class of 2018; Colombia School of Journalism, Class of 2019), graduated from Yale with honors during the Spring of 2018 and went on to the Colombia School of Journalism the following Fall semester. In only one year, Akintunde earned his Masters Degree in Journalism and Documentary Film.

 

'Tunde graduated from high school with a 5.0 GPA and 2150 SAT score. Ellen DeGeneres put him on her show and gave him a $15,000 check to cover his co-pay and books for the first year at Yale.

 

During his tenure at Yale, 'Tunde founded the Black Men of Yale University and was on board of the Black Men's Union and Black Solidarity Conference. He was a member of the Aurelian Honor Society and was the Peer Liaison for the Afro-American Culture Center. He traveled to Ghana for a semester of legal study at the University of Ghana. He also had an internship in the legal department with Nike in New York City.

'Tunde recently modeled in the 2019 Abercrombie & Fitch relaunch of their iconic cologne, Fierce. His photos were printed inside the colognes and in several major advertisements.

 

'Tunde is also part of the launch of the Colin Kaepernick Icon Jersey in partnership with Nike. His photos were featured on billboards in Times Square and Los Angeles!

Asuka Yanai (YMP Graduating Class of 2011; San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Class of 2015, Royal Academy of Music, Class of 2019) picked up the violin at age 4 through her own interests, partially inspired by her grandfather. She has now worked with Friction Quartet, Elevate Ensemble, Gordon Getty, Curious Flights, and San Francisco Symphony members.

 

With her love of music, she now has a wide experience playing different kinds of music worldwide such as contemporary, classical, hip-hop, and jazz. Still, after 20 years of playing, romance still remains her favorite genre to perform. Her technique and confidence were spearheaded by her coaches, Axel Strauss and Bettina Mussumeli.

 

Through delicate guidance from her coaches, Asuka discovered a love for teaching starting to blossom. At age 17, she became one of the teachers for the Young Musicians Choral Orchestra, as well as their concertmistress. Asuka ended her tenure as YMCO's concertmistress with an outstanding performance of Samuel Barber's Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 14- completely from memory!

 

While attending the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Asuka was the only undergraduate selected to go on a European tour with the staff and perform alongside them. Her dedication to mastering the violin has earned her a Bachelor's degree in Violin Performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music on a full scholarship, and she is currently earning her Master's degree in Violin Performance at the Royal Academy of Music.

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Christabel Nunoo (YMCO Graduating Class of 2012; University of Michigan, Class of 2016) has recently obtained her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance, where she studied under Daniel Washington.

 

During her career as an undergraduate, Christabel sung in masterclasses with and led by artists such as Jesse Blumberg and Reri Grist. She also performed the lead soprano role of Blanche in a reduced version of Francis Poulenc's Dialogues of the Carmelites for the U-M Opera Workshop. Christabel had the honor of singing the National Anthem in the historic Hill Auditorium for the University of Michigan's 93rd Annual Honors Convocation. Additionally, Christabel won a scholarship from the East Bay Opera League Competition.

 

Christabel's most recent work includes Jazz Musician Marcus Shelby's new opera, "Harriet's Spirit," premiered by San Francisco's Opera Parallele and Rachel Portman's The Little Prince. She will also be starring in "Bill and Flicka: Generous Spirits" on September 19, 2019 alongside SF Opera's William Burden and world-renowned superstar, Frederica von Stade!

Kelly Cruz (YMCO Graduating Class of 2013; University of South California, Class of 2018) came to YMCO at the age of 9 and wowed Miss Daisy with her command over the drum set. Over the years, she developed her own unique sound and her passion for music captured the attention of the late, world-renowned pop, funk, and jazz drummer, Ndugu Chancler.

 

Ndugu Chancler, who was Michael Jackson's drummer in his hit, "Billie Jean," continued to teach Kelly throughout her college career, allowing her to master her technique. Kelly now holds a Bachelor's degree in Drum Set Performance from the University of South California.

 

The Yamaha Corporation of America, Band and Orchestral division chose Kelly for their highly competitive 2018 Yamaha Internship Program, where she provided Yamaha with marketing and sales support for its world-class percussion products until January of 2019.

Yafeu Tyhimba (YMCO Graduating Class of 2015; University of South California, Class of 2019) has just graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in Jazz Bass Performance. During his tenure at YMCO, Yafeu excelled in jazz piano, jazz AND classical bass, and the alto saxophone. In addition to mastering several instruments, Yafeu also has a talent for creating several of his own soulful compositions, many of which were premiered over the years at YMCO's recitals.

 

Now at USC, he is studying with jazz bassists, Alphonso Johnson and Darek Oles. He has also studied with jazz pianist, Patrice Rushen and the late, world-renowned drummer, Ndugu Chancler.

 

This past April, Yafeu had the opportunity to perform alongside Patrice Rushen at The World Stage. The concert all featured saxophonist Justo Almario and drummer Benjamin Ring

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Edward Nunoo (YMCO Graduating Class of 2015; University of Michigan, Class of 2019) came into the program playing the oboe at the age of 9 in 2006. Over the years, he began taking voice lessons, developing a beautiful and rich bass tone. Edward's voice captivated the audiences at recitals with its power and emotion. Through YMP, he was able to work with artists and professors such as Roderick Dixon, Alfreda Burke, Danielle de Niese, and Frederica von Stade, as well as American composer Jake Heggie. Besides being musically gifted, Edward also excelled in his academics. During his senior year, he was accepted into 20 schools on full scholarships! 

 

Now 21 years old, Edward is currently a senior at the University of Michigan, studying Vocal Performance with Professor Daniel Washington at the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance on a full scholarship. As a sophomore, Edward was a member of the opera chorus in Michigan's fall production of  Charles Gounod's Roméo et Juliette in November 2016. He was the bass soloist for Mozart's Requiem with the U-M University Choir and the Detroit Symphony Youth Orchestra at the DSO Orchestra Hall in March 2017. He made his operatic debut at Michigan in November 2017, playing the role of Gustave in William Bolcom's new opera Dinner at Eight, as well as performing in a Department of Voice masterclass led by American baritone Stephen Powell. In February of 2018, he performed the role of Jim/Crap Shooter in a concert version of the Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess; it was at the esteemed Hill Auditorium alongside Morris Robinson, Talise Trevigne, Janai Brugger, Norman Garrett, Chauncey Packer, Reginald Smith, Jr., and Karen Slack. Other performers included the U-M Chamber Choir and the University Symphony orchestra, conducted by Kenneth Kiesler.

More recently, Edward has performed excerpts from Les Misérables at the St. Joseph's Art Society for San Francisco Symphony's Conductor, Michael Tilson Thomas (Left).

Victor Ruiz (YMCO Graduating Class of 2015; San Jose State University, Class of 2019) joined YMCO during his junior year of high school. By then he had already mastered piano, organ, guitar (acoustic and electric), and bass guitar, but decided to take on the challenge of learning how to play the double bass.

 

His passion for music and drive for growth has taken him all across the Bay Area, where he regularly performs and continues to embark on his musical studies. Victor is currently the principal bassist of the San Jose State University Symphony Orchestra and the San Jose State University Wind Symphony. He is also a member of the Latin jazz program for San Jose Jazz. He currently studies with double bassist Bruce Moyer, and has also had the honor of studying with Scott Pingel (Principal bassist of the San Francisco Symphony), Joseph Lescher (Principal bassist of the San Francisco Opera), renown double bass professor Diana Gannett, and Joseph Conyers (Assistant principal bassist of The Philadelphia Orchestra), amongst others.

 

A few of Victor's repertoire includes: Brahm's German Requiem at the Santa Clara Mission, Mendelssohn's Elijah at the Hammer Theater, world premiere of Eric Schultz's Times, world premiere of Tina Tallon's Anthropogenic Tides, Steven Bryant's Ecstatic Waters, and a Leonard Bernstein birthday concert with the San Jose Wind Symphony.

 

Victor is currently conducting an exciting research on the original historical scores written by Giovanni Bottesini. This summer, he had the opportunity to tour in South America and coordinate his own summer camp in San Jose.

Victor was recently selected as a recipient of the 2019 Leigh Weimers Emerging

Artist Award!

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Claire Chaix (YMCO Graduating Class of 2016; Berklee College of Music, Class of 2019) is an arranger, composer, and multi-instrumentalist. She has just graduated from the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA in only three years, free of debt! Her background in classical music combined with her collegiate education in jazz harmony and theory as well as her love for funk, R&B, and all things 80's gives her writing a unique flavor. She specializes in arranging for string instruments and vocal parts, and her compositions combine influences from across the genre board.

 

Beginning her musical journey as a pianist at the young age of 3, Chaix has always been surrounded by music. At age 6, she began studying viola, placing her in youth orchestras, and beginning her life long love for both collaboration and stringed instruments.

 

Inspired by the joy of playing in groups, Chaix began singing in choirs, and she quickly took to singing both classical and contemporary music. From 2007 to 2016, she was a member of the Young Musicians Choral Orchestra (formerly named the Young Musicians Program at UC Berkeley), the first and only choral youth orchestra in the United States. During this time, she studied classical piano under John McCarthy and further developed her love of collaborative music. With YMCO, she performed at numerous venues, including the reopening of the Presidio of San Francisco in September of 2014. The event was broadcasted nationally and attended by notable dignitaries. In addition, Chaix toured throughout Italy and Spain performing as a member of her church's choir.

 

In high school, she found her passion for arranging when she challenged herself to not only take up playing the cello, but also arrange contemporary music for her high school’s orchestra. Throughout her high school years, Chaix grew to be an experienced accompanist, organist, music director, producer, and arranger.

 

Since arriving at Berklee College of Music, Chaix has been vigorously writing and absorbing new musical information. She has co-founded Berklee’s Underground Choir, an a capella chamber choir formed by students whose focus is to learn and record student compositions. She currently studies piano with Moira Lo Bianco and is majoring in Contemporary Writing and Production.

Holden Lai (YMP Graduating Class of 2010; Oberlin College, Class of 2015; Stanford University, Class of 2020) graduated from Oberlin College in 2015 with a BM in Percussion Performance and a BA in Physics and Chemistry. He is now a Chemistry Ph.D. candidate at Stanford University. Holden plans to graduate in the summer of 2020 and is looking for work.

Holden was an exceptionally talented percussionist during his tenure at YMP, and he has continued to expand his skills throughout his undergraduate and graduate career. He has recently performed with Stanford University's Stanford Collaborative Orchestra.

In Their Own Words

The experiences of YMP alumni speak volumes about the impact the program has had not only on their musical training but on their personal and educational trajectories as well:

“YMP provided me a well-rounded experience in music…[and] got me ready for what was ahead as I prepared to be a music major in college. [In addition to the music training], discipline and time management were skills I certainly took away from YMP. We had to discipline ourselves to juggle everything. [YMP’s] motto of the power triangle—academics, musicianship, and citizenship—served me well then and even today.” 

 

Phillip Harris, YMP Graduating Class of 2007; Music Major, University of California at Irvine, Class of 2012

 

Khris Sanchez, YMP Graduating Class of 2011; Music Major, University of Michigan, Class of 2016

“The positive impact YMP has had on me is immeasurable…Musically, I received world-class instruction from violinists at the top of their fields…I [also] learned the importance of being a well-rounded and versatile individual through my YMP experiences. I realized that simply being musically accomplished or academically savvy isn’t enough. I gradually honed my skills in patience, consistency, attentiveness to detail, and thoroughness through YMP’s guidance and nurturing.”

 

Kin Lam, YMP Graduating Class of 2009; University of California at Berkeley, Class of 2012

 

“YMP was the first program to really empower me to reach for my dreams. The odds were stacked against me, as a child of refugee immigrant parents from China, and as a product of the Oakland public schools. [But] YMP believed in me...YMP equalized the playing field for me, and provided me with equal opportunity…I feel that the biggest takeaway [message] that I’ve gotten from YMP is [a] sense of service. Because they helped me, I feel empowered to help others. I aspire to become a public interest lawyer and policymaker. I hope to work toward the same ideals, and spread the YMP message to other fields besides music.”

 

Brianna Pang, YMP Graduating Class of 2009, Stanford University Class of 2013

 

YMCO

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4th Floor, Suite #420
Berkeley, CA 94704
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(510) 845-9626 |  ymco@youngmusiciansco.org
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