Island student honored as All-State musician
Island resident Jason Smith Vidaurre, 16, recently earned a seat in the All-State Orchestra for his prowess on the violin. Jason was awarded the esteemed position along with 20 Moses Brown schoolmates who were also honored with coveted seats at the 2007 RI Music Educators' Association All-State Festival for Band, Orchestra, and Chorus.
Jason was not available for an interview last Friday because he was playing his violin in a concert. He was not available on Saturday because he was participating in a wrestling tournament. Jason is also one of Moses Brown's star wrestlers - not something one would expect from an accomplished classical musician.
However, upon meeting Jason, it was obvious why being a skilled musician as well as a well-tuned athlete is the most natural thing in the world. At 16 years of age, he is focused and his priorities are in order. Although slight of build, he is lean, muscular, and agile. His affable personality and quick, warm smile are infectious. He is also extremely bright. A lot can be expected from Jason Smith Vidaurre because he expects a lot from himself.
Besides being a respected musician and athlete, Jason enjoys surfing, skateboarding and woodworking. He designs and builds skateboards. He is also a good student, and says that he is enjoying his junior year in high school. Although his many accomplishments at such a young age make him appear driven, that is not the case. Jason just enjoys life to the fullest, and he believes in doing everything well.
"I believe in giving everything I pursue my best effort," Jason said. "If you do that, you'll always do well."
Jason takes the time to think before answering questions. He ponders his answers so the wording is as accurate as possible. He does not react to questions, he responds, an uncommon trait, even in adults. Without a doubt, Jason is an exceptional young man.
He attributes his work ethic to his parents. "My father is patient and persistent. So is my mom," Jason said. Then he asked, "Is that the same as tenacious? I guess it is. Anyway, they are both patient and persistent. That would be a good way of describing them. They are my inspiration. I don't know any other way."
Jason started playing the violin when he was in first grade. He said he quit for a year during second grade because he "didn't like practicing." However, he missed playing his instrument and resumed taking lessons the following year.
He has only studied violin with one teacher, Emily Anthony, a respected musician and educator who lives on the island. Jason speaks of her fondly. She has nurtured and helped him develop his extraordinary talent from the onset.
"I've only played one other instrument since I started studying music. I played trombone in the school band when I was in the fifth grade," Jason said.
He is excited about his acceptance into the Senior All-State Orchestra. "We have a demanding rehearsal schedule between now and the concert in March," Jason said. He went on to say that the fullcompliment orchestra only gives one concert a year, every spring.
When talking about music, Jason said that his favorite composers for the violin are Vivaldi and Bach. He also said that he enjoys playing and listening to classical music, but he does not limit his musical experience to just one genre. "I like all music," Jason said. "I give everything a chance and if something grabs me, I'll listen more, as long as it's played well."
Jason considers himself to be an interpreter at this stage of his musical career, although he said he would like to experiment with improvising. "Improvisation interests me. I think it would be really cool to improvise," he noted. I've always liked Gypsy music. Gypsy violinists are good at improvising."
He talked about his late-model violin, which was made by Romanian violin-maker Ivan Dunov. "My carbon fiber bow is a Coda," he noted - a product of modern technology.
When asked about why he plays music, Jason said, "I love playing. When I'm playing, I never have to think, I just play. It's a beautiful break from reality, like schoolwork, and all the pressures that go with it. Everybody leads rushed lives, and playing music is a wonderful relief from the demands that we live with from day to day."
He said that he came by his musical talents honestly. "My sister plays trumpet and my dad plays the banjo. Many of my relatives are musicians. I come from a musical family," he said.
He commented briefly on his wrestling pursuits. "My music teacher (Emily Anthony) understands the commitment. Throughout life we have to make choices. At some point I'm probably going to have to choose between playing the violin and wrestling. Right now, I can do both, so I'm going to enjoy it while I can."
Jason started wrestling when he was in the eighth grade. "I broke my arm wrestling in my freshman year," he said. "So I didn't compete and I missed All-State that year. I made it to the New England and National competition last year by placing third in an Independent School League tournament. I was wrestling in the 103-pound class at the time. Now I'm wrestling in the 119-pound class. It's much tougher."
Born in Newport Hospital, Jason has lived in Jamestown all his life. He has a younger brother, Chris, 11, and an older sister, Grace, 18, who is away at college. His father, Bill, designs and manufactures furniture. He owns a factory in Nicaragua where Jason's mother was born. His mother, Rosita, helps with the family business and attends the University of Rhode Island where she is studying to be a social worker.
Jason doesn't know if he'll pursue music as a major when he goes to college. "I have plenty of time to make that decision," he said. "I want to see where my interests take me. I'm going to keep an open mind."
Between now and then, Jason Smith Vidaurre will play the violin and wrestle. Whatever he decides to do with his life, he will undoubtedly be a true champion.