by Winston Chua
Valentine Elementary School is host to a number of talented individuals in the community. This week we feature a special group of brothers with an enormous talent for music, on the violin and cello. They are Joshua (10) and Nat Yue (8).
For an eight year old, Nat has developed quite the appreciation for high-quality music. Two of his favorite pieces are Cello Concerto No. 4, Op. 65 by Goltermann and Concerto in G minor for two cellos by Vivaldi (which he’ll be performing with Colburn graduate student and teacher Vardan Gasparyan in May at the Colburn School of Music. Nat has also been invited to perform a concerto piece in Ron Leonard’s cello class at Colburn’s Thayer Hall in front of graduate students.
Ronald Leonard was LA Phil’s principal cellist for 24 years and currently teaches at Colburn.
Joshua, a fourth grader at Valentine, is a member of the Minions Quintet, a group aptly named, according to his mother Maggie (Nat is a participant and another minion is Valentine’s Natalie Leung).
“When they’re not playing their just like the minions,” explained Maggie Mar, referring to the characters in Despicable Me. Both Joshua and Nat are students at the Pascale Music Institute, named after respected teacher Susan Pascale. It’s at PMI where Mar believes students are prepared to “take off” musically.
“I most appreciate how well my two boys have been matched by Susan Pascale with their teachers. With all the group performances we do together and the hours of practiced involved, the children as well as the parents have formed everlasting friendships,” Mar observed.
Mar noted that the camaraderie of the musicians is also often what drives the young ones, at least hers, to practice well.
Joshua’s teacher at PMI is violinist Clara Kim, a doctoral candidate and adjunct instructor at USC’s Thornton School of Music. Nat’s teacher at PMI is Gasparyan.
Both Joshua and Nat have also been a part of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the former since 2010 and the latter since 2012. Thanks to their participation two years ago, LACO received the highest performance ratings. To say the two are advanced for their ages would be an understatement, considering the venues they’ve already had the privilege of performing in.
“I like playing my solo pieces and going on trips,” Joshua recalled. “I like making new friends on all the trips and also like my teacher.”
Just a few of the places Joshua is referring to on the duo’s trips are Carnegie Hall, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Kidspace in Pasadena, One Colorado, various farmers markets Disneyland, and, of course, Valentine Elementary School.
“I like playing with my teacher and knowing that my teacher likes me,” explained Nat, a second grader.
Nat is very excited to be playing at his teacher’s graduation recital. His teacher is Ron Leonard.
The Minions and cello quartet will be competing in March 7, at the SCSBOA Ensemble Competition.
The young musicians are preparing for a festival in Disneyland where last year they received a gold rating (the highest one achievable) and walked away with the most awards (4).
Although the pair featured in this article are highly accomplished, it doesn’t always come easy or perfectly all the time.
“One of the hard parts is not listening to the metronome,” Nat said. “Sometimes I go a little faster or slower.”