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"When you play from your heart you are being open and honest. And when that is the case, the instrument becomes the vehicle by which you can reach others with the music."                                               -Carlos Santana

Sergio Viveros’ tall, lean body towered over the keyboards sitting before him. Slowly, almost tenderly the 15-year-old boy’s fingers began to move across the keys; within seconds his audience of more than 120 people erupted into applause and cheers as they recognized the familiar melody of La Paloma.

The performance was part of the 2014 Summer Arts Program finale held recently at S.S. Peter & Paul Church in Toledo. The free eight-week summer church program, which provided area youth with an opportunity to learn how to play a musical instrument, dance and paint, was sponsored by the Sofia Quintero Art and Cultural Center, Inc.

María Rodríguez-Winter, the center’s interim executive director and the Rev. Juan Francisco Molina praised the many community volunteers who donated their time to instruct students, provide transportation, or helped chaperone. More than 40 youths participated in the summer program.

 “We recognized that there was a need to do something with the children,” said Pastor Molina, who has made nurturing and addressing the needs of youths one of the church’s top priorities. “The purpose of the program was to help cultivate the talent within our children. This is basic progress; there is more work to do.”

Providing youths an opportunity to play an instrument is an idea that Pastor Molina feels especially passionate about. Thanks to community donations and funding from the Sofia Quintero Art and Cultural Center, the church was able to provide youths with guitars, accordions, violins, keyboards, flutes, and trombones. The church hopes to acquire more instruments in the future so that youths can continue to learn.

“Learning how to play music is so important because it allows the children to express themselves,” said Pastor Molina, during the Wednesday event. “Music is a part of them; it comes from their soul.”

 The young dance group, which included Vanessa Hernández, 10, Aiyana Eason-Gabbard, 8 and Eileen Silva, also displayed a lot of soul as they performed to Shakira’s Suerte.

The youngsters performed several energetic numbers before making way for the older students, who performed more intricate dance steps.

“I’m very proud of all the dancers, especially the teenagers,” said Ilse Rodríguez, who, along with AliciaKae Hansberger-Goodman, served as the dance instructors. “It took a little longer to teach the older students; we had to do a lot of loosening up exercises.”

Yulisa Carmona, 13, of Millbury, Ohio and Valente Villegas, 14, of Toledo, tried to ease their nerves by getting in a little more guitar practice before the program began. Carmona and Villegas were among several students who later performed an instrumental version of House of the Rising Sun, “by some group called The Animals,” Carmona said.

“It’s been easy learning the guitar because I already knew how to play the saxophone,” said Carmona, who explained that she was more nervous about performing in front of a large audience, which consisted of students’ family and friends. “It’s really been fun meeting new people.”

Church and Sofia Quintero officials said they hope to offer a similar arts program this fall.

Copyright © 1989 to 2014 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 08/19/14 18:23:33 -0700.




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