Artists Featured at the 2016 Avanti Award Dinner
The Joseph and Frances Brucia Foundation is proud to announce the winners of the 2016 Avanti Award and the 9th Annual Avanti Award Dinner and Showcase, to take place on Friday, January 22, at the Mill Valley Community Center in Marin.
Matthew Linaman, a cellist from San Francisco, Madelaine Matej, a singer from Mill Valley, and Andrew Sandahl, a guitarist from Camarillo, CA are the 2016 Avanti Award recipients. They will perform at the showcase along with cellist Juan David Mejia, singer Nolan Ramirez, singer-songwriter Preston Powis, and guitarist Iren Arutyunyan, winners of the 2015 Avanti Award. The winners agree to return a year later so the audience can enjoy hearing their more mature work after they have used their grant money to improve their skills.
Linaman, 24, will use the grant to fund his graduate studies of the cello in Europe, primarily in Barcelona, in order to fulfill his “personal vision to bridge diversity and connect humanity through music, one concert at a time.” In 2014 his quartet was sent to Eastern Europe and Russia through the U.S. State Department’s American Music Abroad Tour and it was there that he fully realized the power of music to transcend barriers. Linaman’s interest in Spanish music and the folk music that inspired it led him to his future teacher Lluis Claret in Barcelona, who has worked with several contemporary composers and premiered multiple works by important Spanish composers. Linaman plans to present and record a final recital and perform in churches and schools, as well as art galleries and corporate offices while he studies in Europe.
Matej, 21, a classical singer, will soon complete her studies as a Vocal Performances Major, Honors Program student, and Powell Scholar from University of Pacific’s Conservatory of Music in Stockton. Frustrated by the nature of roles for sopranos, and inspired by the work of Bay Area author Alexandra Amati-Campari, Matej embarked on a two-year research project of the operas inspired by the Orpheus and Eurydice myth written between 1600 and 2000. Her research took her to Italy and Germany where she found out that many of the 79 operas had been lost or destroyed. Focusing on 14 of them, she presented her results as a lecture-recital at her university. She will use the Avanti Award to take her recital to conferences and performance venues around the U.S. and perhaps throughout the world. Matej hopes “to shed light on the plight of the leading lady and to display the potential for strength in female operatic characters.”
Classical guitarist Andrew Sandahl, 22, now completing his final year at UCLA, continues to take musicianship and music education courses, sings in an auditioned choir, and studies and performs with the competitive UCLA classical guitar ensemble. Sandahl was also accepted into a non-profit teaching organization, where he serves as the lead music instructor to a middle school class in an underserved area of Los Angeles. Following graduation he plans to use the Avanti Award to travel to Spain to learn flamenco guitar style, and to continue studying, teaching, and performing. Sandahl, who once heard musicians referred to as “society’s therapists,” has adopted this view, and feels a strong obligation to continue making and teaching music. “You never know who may be in the audience, who may need healing,” he said.
The Avanti Award is granted by the Joseph and Frances Brucia Foundation to musicians who show passion, talent, and financial need. Starting with Giuseppe Brucia, who generously financed and helped found the San Francisco Opera in 1919, the Brucia family has supported the arts for nearly a century. In 2008, the grandchildren of Giuseppe Brucia — Larry Brucia of San Anselmo, Francesca Bestwick of Kentfield, and Louise Montalbano of Poppi, Italy — decided to keep alive the legacy of their family. They formed the Joseph and Frances Brucia Foundation, named for their parents, and called the awards “Avanti,” meaning to go forth, taken from a title of a poem written by their father.
Tickets to the 9th Annual Avanti Award Dinner and Showcase are $150. The fundraising event includes the dinner, performance, and a silent and live auction. The event will be held on Friday, January 22, at 5:30 p.m. at the Mill Valley Community Center, 180 Camino Alto Boulevard, in Mill Valley, CA.