(Photo courtesy of Central Oregon Symphony Association)
It’s hard to miss the thick mop of dark hair in the front row of the symphony.
It’s a signature of sort, belonging to 17-year-old Mateo Garza, symphony violinist.
Violinist is the more prominent signature of the young man who became enthralled with Tchaikovsky at the age of 6. Recognizing the unusual interest of her son, Mateo’s mom took him to many outdoor concerts, and by the ripe old age of 7, he chose the violin. Home- schooled until high school, Mateo relied on private lessons from Wilma Hens and then Isabelle Senger, founder and executive director of High Desert Chamber Music. No surprise that the young Garza began playing chamber music at the age of 11.
Now a junior at the Redmond Proficiency Academy, Mateo has his hopes on a violin performance degree at Juilliard, Curtis, or one of the top music schools. To prepare for this future he has set aside his gymnastics and summer life in Bend to attend the Eastern Music Festival summer program in North Carolina. Eastern provides a rigorous schedule of private instruction and orchestral performances for 200 devoted musicians ages 14 to 23. While he admits that he may not be the “best” 17 year old violinist, Mateo says that the Summer Festival keeps him inspired to do those 2 to 3 hours of practice every day, and the Central Oregon Symphony helps build a foundation of orchestral experience that even more technically proficient musicians don’t have.
As for the hair? He says “Yes, people might not know me if not for the hair. But then that could be good or bad. I could be known as the bad kid with the hair, or the good kid with the hair.” Teo, I don’t think you have to worry.