June 2017 Magazines - Page 55

Meet the Neighbor By Callie Thomas songs you hear that take you back to your youth, first love, first dance, wedding day, or the here and now. It’s even in the lessons you took as a kid. Alexandria Le was just two and a half when her mom, a piano teacher, started her on les- sons. “My mom is a wonderful teacher,” Alexandria said. “But as things go when parents try to teach their children, it was better off that I eventually took lessons elsewhere.” Little did she know that from the ages of 10 and 18 she would end up flying from Las Vegas to the Bay Area every other week to get those lessons. Her hard work paid off and after graduating high school in 2001, Alexandria moved to New York to pursue three degrees in piano performance, includ- ing a Doctorate of Musical Arts. After applying and winning the Pro Musicis International Award, an organization that has been in existence since 1965, they presented Alexandria in her solo debut…at Carnegie Hall. But that wasn’t all. The organization believed in holding concerts in unique community venues—where music is needed the most, including recovery centers, incarceration facilities, rehabilita- tion centers and schools. “I loved that mission,” Alexandria recalled. “Not more than six months later I auditioned for Ensemble Connect, the resi- dent ensemble of Carnegie Hall and won the posi- tion as one of twenty musicians who played in their regular concert series, along with receiving formal training to become a Teaching Artist. I found myself performing around sixty outreach concerts in the span of two years. Music is powerful– it transcends many boundaries.” In its first season, Notes with a Purpose reached over 2,300 children and 12,000 underserved adults with their outreach efforts. The organization con- tinues to engage the community with creative music programming that invests in effective educational and societal enrichment. Notes with a Purpose impacts people of all ages and socioeconomic cir- cumstances through four core programs. The first, The Music Juice Box Series, introduces young ears to classical music by offering elementary-age stu- dents the opportunity to participate in interactive performances. Wednesdays Live at the Mission offers weekly musical performances inside the Las Vegas Rescue Mission by high school music stu- dents and has been especially rewarding. “We per- form for nearly 500 people who come for a hot meal. The outpouring of gratitude from the diners and staff is truly heartwarming. I’ve even been recog- nized on the street weeks or months later by diners,” states Alexandria. The Las Vegas Music & Wine Festival and the Pop-Up Series pairs wine to classic music selections in unique venues. Finally, Carnegie Hall’s Lullaby Project helps pregnant mothers in challenging circumstances bond with their baby by composing a lullaby with musicians. By way of these cultural programs, Alexandria is bringing the beauty of music to those who may have no other opportunity to engage with it. “Giving back has been an incredibly rewarding experience for me,” Alexandria said. “The community loves the arts and holds a great attitude toward culture which is revealed through the many expressions of appre- ciation from students and adults impacted by our programs.” ◆ After living in New York and experiencing cultures of different cities and countries during her travels, Alexandria wanted to contribute to her hometown of Las Vegas. While attending a concert, she envi- sioned sipping a glass of chardonnay alongside a performance of Antonin Dvorak's “American” String Quartet and brought the idea to life in 2015 by launching a three-day event called the Las Vegas Music and Wine Festival. The festival was centered around pairing wines with Alexandria’s music pro- grams. “I was introduced to Jamie Smith, a highly- respected sommelier in Las Vegas who now had the unusual task of pairing wines to the music. This inaugural event took place at the Nevada State Museum and featured 23 musicians, including a nine-time Grammy-awarding winning violinist, three Juilliard professors, Carnegie Hall musicians and principal musicians from the Metropolitan Opera and the New York City Ballet. After the suc- cess of the festival I created Notes with a Purpose to do more in the community.” M USIC TRULY IS THE FABRIC OF OUR LIVES . IT ’ S THE June/July 2017 55