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Teen Guitarists Meet Their Idol

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Teen Guitarists Meet Their Idol

Teen Guitarists Meet Their Idol

Teen Guitarists Meet Their Idol

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Carlo Corrieri and Tim Callobre
Carlo Corrieri and Tim Callobre both first encountered their idol, legendary guitarist Christopher Parkening, at workshops. (Photo: From the Top)

This week's From the Top comes from Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, where a 16-year-old French horn player with an inspirational story performs Saint-Saëns. Also, a teen trio plays music by Arutiunian, and two young guitarists collaborate on traditional tunes in the presence of their idol, the legendary Christopher Parkening.

The members of the J-Cubed Clarinet Trio admit that they spend a lot of time joking, gossiping and playing around during their practice sessions. But once they hit the stage, they're all business. They perform music from Alexander Arutiunian's Suite for Clarinet, Violin and Piano.

Carlo Corrieri, 18, hails from Italy, but these days he lives in California and studies guitar at Pepperdine with his idol Christopher Parkening. After participating in a Parkening master class in Montana, Carlo was thrilled to be accepted as his student. He performs Castelnuovo-Tedesco's Capriccio Diabolico.

Another guitarist, thirteen-year-old Timothy Callobre, is a From the Top old-timer, who first appeared on the program when he was just 10 years old. He's back to play a movement from 'La Catedral,' by Barrios, and then joins Carlo to perform two traditional pieces, "Le Rossignol," transcribed by Russ and Parkening, and "El Paño moruno," arranged by Len Williams.

Eliodoro Vallecillo, 16, says that exploring new musical frontiers has increased his exposure to traditional Mexican music. Now a member of the San Francisco Youth Symphony, he performs Saint-Saëns' Morceau de Concert, with host Christopher O'Riley at the piano.

This program originally aired Feb. 7, 2007

Eliodoro Vallecillo's Journey, in His Own Words

Eliodoro Vallecillo says music isn't just a part of his life, it is his life. From the Top hide caption

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From the Top

I've been becoming a musician ever since I was born. I come from a Mexican background and by the time I was 5, I had quite a repertoire of traditional Mexican songs memorized. On Saturdays and Sundays, my uncles and their friends sat drinking while listening to little concerts I put on for them in the backyard of our house. My mother, at the time, didn't have enough money to survive on her own, and was limited to a single room in a house jam-packed with brothers, sisters, and her mother. My father died before I was born.

As I got older, eventually I stopped singing, and the only live music around our house were my brother's toots on his recorder and later, on his clarinet. One day, my mother came home, and other than the permeating scent of fish (she worked in a fish packing plant at the time), she brought a cassette player she had found at a yard sale along with some blank tapes. My brother and I had a blast that day recording renditions of famous symphonies from his music book and church music we knew.

In fourth grade, my brother's teacher, Ms. Echenique, handed the kids of his class their instruments, and I will never forget how one of the kids who got a trumpet stood on the front steps, proudly showing off the instrument, and then, as he slowly raised the trumpet to his inexperienced lips, the eyes of the children surrounding him following every move fixedly. But as soon as he blew into the shiny instrument, the children drifted off because they realized he couldn't play. I was in that group of kids. This was what made me aspire to joining that class. And I did.

Like my brother's class, ours started on recorders in order to learn to read music, and two months later, we picked the instrument we wanted to play. At first, I was going to play clarinet like my brother, but when I saw the horn, I knew that was my choice. I don't think I'd ever heard the horn being played, but I just knew I wanted to play it.

As a child, living in a Mexican barrio isn't intimidating. In fact, those are some of the best memories, growing up there. But when one grows up, then one starts noticing the gangs running around. My brother later dropped the clarinet, and picked up some bad friends. At the age of 17, a fellow "friend" shot him to death. The French horn is what has helped me cope with such a loss. He wasn't just a brother; he was my father figure, and my best friend.

That, along with the fact that there are no music programs in Salinas to speak of, led me to Santa Cruz where I stay with my former teacher, Ms. Echenique, her husband and their six dogs. I go to school here and have a lot of opportunities with not just classical music, but also with Mexican music. It's ironic that I felt I was leaving my Mexican roots when I moved to Santa Cruz. Instead, even more opportunities are here. I met an accordionist who invited me to his Mariachi rehearsals.

Talking about opportunities, I auditioned recently for the San Francisco Youth Symphony, thinking I wasn't going to make it. I thought the musicians were all going to be older, more experienced players. My audition went really well because two days later I got the results; I made it in. I start in September.

Music isn't just a part of my life, it is my life. I'm shooting for a conservatory, and then a job in a symphony somewhere in the country. I might even try to become a soloist, following in the footsteps of Gail Williams. I am looking forward to a lesson with her this summer when I go to Northwestern. The horn is my passion and I'm looking forward to a future of being part of beautiful and exciting music.