A 'Note'-worthy achievement: KidWorks Avanti Music celebrates 5 years

They play the piccolo, sing solos and even compose their own original songs.  They are the dozens of KidWorks students who have participated in Avanti Music, a KidWorks program founded in 2012 by volunteer Joe Cristina, a professional musician with 38 years of experience in composition, arranging, orchestration and production.


This year, we are celebrating Avanti’s five year anniversary with a free concert that showcases the musical talent Joe helps nurture in our students.

Called “Celebrating 5!,” the concert is set for Friday, Oct. 27, at 7:30 p.m. in the sanctuary at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 600 St. Andrews Road, Newport Beach.

“The concert will feature pop, R&B, classical and world music, plus a selection of traditional Mexican music with a vocal soloist,” Joe says. “Our students will be performing music that is uplifting and hopeful.”

We are very grateful to St. Andrew’s, a longtime KidWorks partner, who has generously made their sanctuary available for the concert.  Kyle Team, a KidWorks board member and classroom volunteer, is also the church’s ministry liaison with KidWorks.

“St. Andrew’s members have served directly with KidWorks students, provided back to school supplies and purchased Christmas gifts for many deserving families in central Santa Ana,” Kyle said.  “We are looking forward to this year’s Serve Day, Sat. Sept. 23, when St. Andrew’s members will visit KidWorks’ Dan Donahue Center to repaint the preschool mural and create college care packages for the recent high school graduates.”

In addition to Kyle, we also thank these St. Andrew’s congregation members for their help with the concert:  Lisa Gels, Dan Wendell, Julie Wood, Dr. James Melton, Brandon Muchow, Robert Cerda and other supporting staff.

Among those performing at the Avanti five year celebration concert are:  Evelyn Torres, vocals; Julie Cons, violin; Yaretzy Hernandez, vocals and guitar; Nancy Cervantes, vocals; Jocelyn Perez; vocals and guitar; Karla Camacho, flute; Yarin Camacho, clarinet; Melisa Luis, keyboards and harp; Evaluz Alvarado, bass and Emily Barrios, percussion and vocals.   Other Avanti music alumni may also join the fun on stage.

Avanti Music’s remarkable positive impact is best told in the words of its students:

Liliana Ledezma is an 18-year-old Avanti alumni now attending the University of California Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design, majoring in urban studies:  “I play several instruments, primarily flute and piccolo.  I also really like playing the ukulele.  A person has to find connections in life.  Avanti is like that for me.  It’s very precious and full of love.  I’m so lucky to have found something like this.”

Lilian Ramirez is a 19-year-old Avanti alumni attending San Francisco State University, where she is majoring in music:  “Avanti was the turning point in my life.  I was starting fresh at a new school and trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.  Avanti helped me find my voice and come out of my shell.  I want to be a performer, write music and tour.  Avanti has helped me have confidence in my dreams.”

 KidWorks hopes to see everyone at the Avanti five-year celebration concert, cheering on our upcoming musical stars of tomorrow.


By Glenn Leibowitz, volunteer writer