Avanti

Celebrating our ‘star’ students: Liliana Ledezma has a heart for music—and justice

This April, our KidWorks blog series will highlight two extraordinary students.  All of our students are “stars” in our humble estimation, and the two we’ll introduce you to this month are examples of how your support develops them in ways that make them contributing members of society throughout their entire lives.  In this installment, we are proud to feature Liliana Ledezma.

 

When you’ve been in the music industry as long as KidWorks volunteer Joe Cristina, recognizing exceptional talent almost becomes instinctual.

 

When he first met Liliana Ledezma, he knew there was something special about this 18-year-old Mater Dei High School student.

 

She was one of the very first KidWorks students to enroll in Avanti Music, founded by Joe in 2012 to help our students learn from a professional musician with 37 years of experience in composition, arranging, orchestration and production.

 

“Lili’s a gifted musician,” Joe says.  “She has what we in the music industry call ‘chops.’  Her proficiency includes the flute, piano, ukulele and vocals.  She’s also been a big part of live performance musical events hosted by KidWorks.”

 

Joe also sees a deeply considerate and caring person in Lili, who believes strongly in justice and searching for truth.

 

“Lili does not settle for the easy answer,” Joe says.  “She asks very direct questions in order to get to the underlying truth.”

 

Another strong trait Joe appreciates in Lili is her encouraging nature.

 

“Although Lili might be tired from a week of school and work, she is always quick to offer help to another Avanti Music student,” Joe says.  “She’s very accepting of new students.  Lili makes people feel welcome.”

 

Joe says there is also a lighter side to Lili that’s just as engaging as her musical talent and sense of fairness.

 

“She’s really funny.” Joe says.  “Her comedic timing is just as finely tuned as her musical talent!”

 

By Glenn Leibowitz, Volunteer Content Writer

 

Worship and Concert at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church Feature Our Gifted Musicians

As the pews filled up at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach this past weekend, over 1,200 worshipers were in for a delightful surprise.

They were about to enjoy a Sunday concert and Sunday worship service featuring students from KidWorks’ Avanti program, who joined with Brandon Muchow, St. Andrew’s Minister of Modern Worship & Production, and several other professional studio musicians.

It all came together thanks to the efforts of KidWorks’ volunteer Joe Cristina, who began a KidWorks music program in 2012 called Avanti Music.  In Joe, the students learn from a professional musician with 37 years of experience in composition, arranging, orchestration and production.  

“The ‘KidWorks/Avanti Music Concert’ was a bilingual presentation, and therefore was a true bridge-builder since residents from Newport Beach and Santa Ana worshipped together,” Joe says. 

There are 18 KidWorks students currently participating in the Avanti program.  Those who performed at the St. Andrews concert included Lilian Ramirez (vocals) Liliana Ledezma (vocals and flute), Melisa Luis (piano), Julie Cons (violin) and Luis Lopez (guitar). 

The second event was held in the church chapel, and was equally well received. Lilian Ramirez joined Brandon Muchow and Hector Rivera on vocals.  Emily Barrios, 12-years-old, recently joined Avanti, and she joined in on percussion and vocals.

David Benavides, Executive Director, KidWorks & Councilmember, City of Santa Ana, also spoke to the congregation, sharing KidWorks’ story.

Dan Wendell, Minister of Missions & Outreach at St. Andrews says he is delighted with the result:   “Having the students up front, leading through worship was a beautiful example of extending the family and valuing them as part of our community.  I was particularly encouraged to learn that as a result of Avanti’s work, Lilian Ramirez, one of the vocalists, will be leaving for San Francisco State University to study music in just a few weeks. The ministry is changing lives." 

Lilian and our Avanti students are equally grateful to Joe and the staff at St. Andrews for providing them with such a special opportunity to perform.

"I couldn't get this experience anywhere else than KidWorks and Avanti,” she says.

Knowing Joe’s commitment to Avanti and our students, we can’t help but say, “Encore!” to him and “Bravo!” to St. Andrews for providing such an extraordinary opportunity.

I just wanted to celebrate a great collaboration between Gather and Send in featuring the students of Avanti/Kidworks at the 5:30 and 11:11 services. Having the students up front, leading through worship was a beautiful example of extending the family and valuing them as part of our community. I was particularly encouraged to learn that as a result of Avanti’s work, one of the vocalists will be leaving for San Francisco State to study music in just a few weeks. The ministry is changing lives.
— Dan Wendell, Missions Pastor

By Glenn Leibowitz, Volunteer Content Writer 

Take Note: Lilian, 18, Sings On Professionally Produced Music Album

Editor’s note:  This is an update to a previous KidWorks blog story about Avanti, founded in 2012 by KidWorks volunteer Joe Cristina. In Joe, the students learn from a professional musician with 37 years of experience in composition, arranging, orchestration and production. 

KidWorks student Lilian Ramirez might not yet have a GRAMMY award on her shelf, but just give her a little time.

The 18-year-old high school senior recently contributed several vocal tracks to a Latin/jazz/fusion album project being written/produced by Joe and fellow professional musician, Victor Cajiao.

Both Joe and Victor lead Avanti classes at KidWorks that are very popular with our youth.

“Lilian will be on two of the album’s tracks,” Joe says.  “One is an original titled ‘Through the Dark Night / The Lamp.’  It’s a modern lament psalm that has an end section that speaks of hope coming to the neighborhoods in Santa Ana.”

Lilian found the entire process exhilarating.

“The recording experience was phenomenal!” she says.  “It was more difficult than I thought it would be. Getting that perfect sound is tedious but once you pinpoint it, it feels amazing. I felt the adrenaline pumping the entire time.  I never thought I had that energy in me.”

Lilian will begin attending San Francisco State University this fall.

“I want to become a full-fledged musician and earn my Bachelor of Arts degree in music,” she says.  “I also want to become a composer and record music.”

Joe is very encouraged by Lilian’s God-given musical talent.  He also says her participation on the upcoming album is giving her priceless insight about what it’s like to be a professional musician.

“During the session, Lilian sees how we do sound checks, monitor her vocal levels, and keep performing each piece over and over again until we get a take that’s the keeper.”

Joe expects the album he and Victor are producing to eventually be available on iTunes and Amazon.

So, as they say in the music business, “stay tuned”!

 

By Glenn Leibowitz, Community Volunteer and Content Writer