BLUE HILL — Seventeen-year-old violinist Brandon Aponte last week was named as the sole musician to represent Maine on the nation’s 2018 National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, which is bound for Asia this coming July.
Under the auspices of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, Aponte will join 105 other teen musicians representing altogether 28 U.S. states as well as Puerto Rico in early July for a three-week coaching and rehearsal residency on the campus of New York’s Purchase College, SUNY.
Later in the month, NYO-USA will embark on an Asia tour including stops in Taipei in Taiwan, Shanghai and Beijing in China and Seoul and Daejeon in South Korea.
The eldest son of Juan and Louise Aponte, Brandon is a junior at John Bapst Memorial High school in Bangor. He started playing violin at the age of 3 and was taught for many years by Richard Hsu of Ellsworth. He currently studies with University of Maine professor Anatole Wieck.
“Besides performing on a high level and being immensely musical he is also a very dynamic young man with tremendous leadership qualities, Wieck said Monday. “This is why he is and was a concertmaster for the Bangor Symphony Youth Orchestra and also Maine All State Orchestra.”
Educated at home until high school, Brandon started banging on a xylophone and plastic drums at a young age.
Besides private lessons, Brandon also studied and performed chamber music at Blue Hill’s Kneisel Hall Music Festival from 2009 to 2015.
Brandon may be well known in Maine’s youth musical circles, but he also is remembered well for his prowess at spelling, winning the 2013 Maine State Spelling Bee.
“He was a musical kid from the get-go,” says his mother, Louise Aponte, whose other two children, Colin and Rebecca, also play violin. The pair battled it out, taking first and second respectively, at the 2018 Hancock County Spelling Bee.
During his New York residency at Purchase, Brandon will participate in a side-by-side rehearsal and performance with Carnegie Hall’s NYO2, an orchestra for gifted players ages 14-17, as well as local musicians from New York City. They also will perform chamber music at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts and will take the Carnegie Hall stage on July 19.
Led by conductor Michael Tilson, Brandon and the NYO-USA orchestra’s other members will perform Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F Major, featuring pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet; Sibelius’s Symphony No. 2 and a commissioned work by Los Angeles singer and composer Ted Hearne. The orchestra members’ ages range 16 to 19.
“Brandon is a very modest and kind young man very much liked by his teachers and peers,” Wieck wrote in his letter recommending the Blue Hill teen to represent Maine in the NYO-USA orchestra program. “I believe he will have a good influence on other participants because of his fine character.”