Senior Interview: Symphony Orchestra ’24 Jaime García-Añoveros

Jaime García-Añoveros III has spent the last 8 seasons fine-tuning not only his violin, but his understanding, fascination, and love for classical music. This senior violinist in CYSO’s Symphony Orchestra realized from a very early age that having the weekly opportunity to make music in a group setting, is exactly the place where he felt like he truly fit in. As both a star violinist and an emerging composer, Jaime has found passion and comradery throughout his time at CYSO — from rehearsals, to music halls, to the 2022 tour of Europe. In the fall, Jaime will be starting his freshman year studying music composition and philosophy. Read more about Jaime Garcia-Anoveros, his experiences with CYSO, composing, and future plans.

Jaime presenting his composition at the 2024 Young Composers Initiative performance.
© Todd Rosenberg Photography 2024

How long have you been with CYSO? What are some of your favorite CYSO memories?

I have been in CYSO since fifth grade, which made the 2023-2024 season my eighth year in the organization. In that time, I’ve played with the Preparatory Strings, Concert, Debut, CORE, and Symphony Orchestras as last stand of seconds, concertmaster, and everything in between. 

Early on, I would playfully switch violins with my peers during rehearsals in the Preparatory Strings Orchestra. As I got older and advanced into the Debut and Concert Orchestras, I would play duets with other string players during breaks. My childhood and early adolescence were enriched weekly by the opportunity to make music in a group, and it was one of the few places I felt like I “fit in.” 

As a composer, playing works written by living artists profoundly inspired me. In my three years with the Symphony Orchestra, we played the works of fifteen living composers I know of few orchestras — student or otherwise — that promote new music as much as CYSO does, and it gives me some rare optimism about the future of contemporary classical music. 

Some major highlights from my time at CYSO were the recording sessions for the album “Storyteller: Contemporary Concertos for Trumpet.” I’d never recorded an orchestral album before–much less one of new music–but the four days we spent recording taught me more about the music business than whole semesters of lessons and concerts. The composers would come to every session, commenting on each individual take and giving us a deeper understanding of their music and creative process. Afterward, I would chat with them, discussing their music, my own, and my life as a professional composer. The high barrier to entry is a problem in contemporary composition, and CYSO has done remarkable work to make it more accessible. 

However, no experience in CYSO compares to the 2022 tour of central Europe. I experienced the most powerful musical catharses of my life playing that glorious finale in the Musikverein, Rudolfinum, and Gewandhaus. In just ten days, I created deep, genuine friendships with my peers; Rooming together, exploring ancient cities, and rehearsing for hours in a noticeably un-airconditioned heatwave united the members of the orchestra in a warm (literally and figuratively) and joyful pursuit of excellence. We felt like a single, cohesive entity, and the music echoed that.I don’t know when I’ll get the chance to tour with an orchestra again, but if it’s anything like the CYSO tour, I’ll not hesitate for a moment to join. 

What is one of the lessons you learned by being part of CYSO?

I learned to listen. Not merely to hear. Not merely – even – to understand; Rather, I learned to perceive so deeply that the sensation transcended the ear and became an extension of the music in my body. It became a meditation where nothing but the music existed in my mind. This obsessive focus is an exercise in the simultaneous perception of the minute and panoptic. It’s sublime and difficult, but above all, transferable. The unlistened life is not worth living. 

The intricacies of orchestral music all convene to create a unified whole through a miraculous feat of group effort is an exceptional exercise in listening. Playing your part is the bare minimum: you should know everyone else’s. Orchestral playing teaches you humility, and what better way to spend your childhood than taming your vanity through music? 

Why should someone want to be involved with and support CYSO? 

CYSO is more than its constituent orchestras, chamber music, steelpan ensembles, educational outreach programs, and community efforts. It is a kind, competitive, joyful, and intense group of kids dedicated to the pursuit of beauty, both within and beyond the organization. 

Orchestras require heavy maintenance to keep the tradition of symphonic music going. Student orchestras are the first step to introducing and educating young players in this art form. In this regard, CYSO is an incomparable role model for orchestras across the country. They do it all: pedagogical works as stepping-stones from Overture Strings through Philharmonic Orchestra, standard symphonic repertoire (plus frequent world premieres and orchestral jazz) in Symphony, Caribean steelpan, composition seminars, chamber music, period performance — you name it, CYSO has it. 

Support CYSO if you love music, no matter the kind, because it teaches its young musicians to do everything. 

What did CYSO do for you? How did it have an impact on you?

CYSO impacted me far beyond the musical sphere. Auditions and concerts taught me to control my nerves, composition seminars helped me develop my artistic voice, rehearsals showed me how to focus, and solo practice of orchestral music instructed me that personal sacrifice is necessary for the greater good. Above all, an education in music is an education in empathy. In that regard, it is better than learning ethics from the bookshelf. 

What experiences do you remember from CYSO that really helped you prepare for your college auditions? 

Learning lots of music fast for a short and stressful audition is a difficult skill to hone, but CYSO creates a fantastic training ground for aspiring musicians to develop it. For each Symphony audition, we had to learn large sections of both the first and second violin parts from 1-2 pieces. We were given roughly two months to do this, but between finals, extracurriculars, and vacations, that time tended to disappear. As such, many of us had to learn the music on a real time crunch. However, some disciplined souls began learning music early and spaced out their process. Regardless of the approach, the members of CYSO were encouraged to develop their audition skills early on, and many performed remarkably well at college auditions as a result. 

What made you want to pursue music in college and not just a hobby?

I realized sometime during second grade that if I went too long without creating something, life became bland. Time is subservient to the fervor of creation, and as I transitioned from painting to music, I realized that there was no greater challenge, relief, pain, and pleasure than etching ink on staff paper. 

My great uncle — a Spaniard, historian, and apasionado of “los toros” — once encouraged me to do the running of the bulls in Pamplona. My father questioned him “Is it worth it given the danger it poses?” My uncle responded: “‘Just as many say ‘one must live’, one must die as well. It is far riskier to become a composer or historian; A life committed to vocation is the ultimate sacrifice.’” And it is a sacrifice I am willing to take. 

Outside of music, what else are you passionate about?

I enjoy reading. Borges, Sartre, Aquinas, García-Márquez, and Wilde are some authors I’ve liked recently. 

What are you looking forward to most in college?

I am most looking forward to the “new music” scene in NYC, reading new authors, and playing with the Columbia Symphony Orchestra. 

As a nonprofit organization, we rely on the generosity of donors to continue our mission of inspiring and cultivating personal excellence through music. We hope you will join us this spring by making a donation before June 30th, to ensure CYSO can continue to provide not only musical education for young people like Jaime; but also the communal space to listen, learn, and experience the world they live in through the power of music. 

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