Mission District Young Musicians Program Celebrates Ten Years

In 2006-2007, CMC began a tuition-free program that offers a comprehensive music education through the study of Latin music. It is available for youth that live or go to school in the Mission District. Ten years later, the Mission District Young Musicians Program (MDYMP) is flourishing.

To celebrate this anniversary year, alumni were invited to speak to the musicians and audience members at the MDYMP’s end-of-year concert at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts.

Martha Rodriguez-Salazar, the MDYMP Program Coordinator since its beginning, shared some of the highlights of her guests’ messages to students that day:

Chus Alonso, founder and director of the MDYMP from 2006 – 2012, was our guest of honor. He shared some reflexions about his tenure with the program and the goals it’s accomplished, thanking students, parents, teachers, CMC staff, and the Mission Cultural Center. He also played a fabulous flute solo in Almendra, a classic danzón, during the concert.

Pianist Carlos Ballesteros (2009 – 2014) talked about how formative the program was for him and remembers the teachers fondly.

Violinist Yojani Ulloa (2008 – 2014) shared how important it was for her to have a community of people with common interests. She is encouraging her young brother to apply for the program this coming year.

Guitarist Kai Lyons  (2009 – 2011) said that he went a Jazz Conservatory in the East Coast (William Paterson University) to realize that he learned more about important and complex rhythmic patterns in his neighborhood program (MDYMP).

Trumpeter Ceci Peña-Govea (2006 – 2010) said that the MDYMP gave her the tools to build a musical career. She is now teaching guitar through a CMC program at the Mission Neighborhood Center. This fall, she will also teach in CMC’s Mariachi program in partnership with the SFUSD and in the MDYMP, along with her dad, Miguel Govea.

Trumpeter Kyana Orellana (2010 – 2015) shared how much the program taught her to be disciplined and provided her with the opportunity to learn Latin music. To the current students in the program, she said: “Even when it is hard to wake up early on Saturdays, appreciate the excellent opportunity that you are being given.” After Kyana graduated, she came back to write a paper about the MDYMP. She also volunteered as an assistant for a quarter.

Violist Joshua Urrutia (2012 – 2016) said that MDYMP supported him during the difficult teenage years and said how important it was to have Chris Borg, CMC’s Executive Director, as a viola teacher and mentor. He expressed gratitude for all of the MDYMP teachers.

Nena Aldaz wasn’t able to attend but sent a message that Chris Borg read. Here are a few highlights:

“I remember auditioning for the group and being intensely nervous. I was much more shy back then. I didn’t know if I could make any friends, or if people would like my singing. But, you all provided a safe space for me to learn and grow. You all supported me and helped me to find my voice.

MDYMP was more than just a program to me. It was the stepping stone I needed to become a more skilled and open artist. It taught me about the music from Latin American countries (which, sadly, is not the case in most universities’ music programs), and it taught me about feeling the music as much as understanding it.

What I learned with MDYMP has always been immensely useful to my musical education at UC Irvine. For example, I am currently taking Latin American Music (a class that was added this year and is only for the duration of the quarter) and my professor asked if anyone knew what a clave rhythm was. My hand shot straight up. I clapped it out for him… and he was impressed!

MDYMP helped me realize that what I truly want to do is to sing and perform. Now I am a vocal arts major at UCI, and I am being trained classically. I have also been accepted to the Bel Canto Institute of San Miguel Allende, in Mexico. I am going to train there for a little over a month. Only 20 students get in each year.

None of this would have been possible without all of you.”

Our thanks to Martha Rodriguez-Salazar for her account of this inspiring moment for our MDYMP community and her invaluable leadership and commitment. Each Saturday, Martha is joined by dedicated faculty members who also perform professionally: Javier Cabanillas, Miguel Govea, Lisa Larribeau, Tregar Otton, and Jesse Wolf.

Over the years, the MDYMP has performed in high profile events in the Mission District and beyond, such as Mission Carnaval, the Mission District Cinco de Mayo Celebration, the SF International Arts Festival, La Posarela performances at the Brava and Victoria Theaters, CMC gala performances at SFJAZZ and the Fairmont Hotel San Francisco, and El Son de la Mision at the Brava Theater last year.

Look out for our MDYMP alumni and faculty performing out in the community!