Alexander Peña has been appointed director of RocMusic, a music education outreach program that offers group instruction for economically disadvantaged children and teenagers from Rochester.
RocMusic currently serves more than 60 students ages 6 through 18, providing tuition-free classes for six hours per week in singing, reading and writing music, and instrumental study. The program is a partnership of the Hochstein School of Music & Dance, the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, the Eastman Community Music School, the Rochester City School District, the City of Rochester, and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. Currently based at the Dr. Freddie Thomas Learning Center, RocMusic will be permanently located at the David Gantt Community Center when renovations are completed, with plans to expand by offering the program at other community centers in Rochester, ultimately serving 75 students per site.
“RocMusic was created to make music available to all children of our city, especially those in our underrepresented and underprivileged urban areas,” said Peña. “RocMusic seeks to make music accessible and affordable. As director and as a graduate of the Eastman School, I am passionate about sharing the gift of musical joy that I have experienced in my life with these children, and look forward to continue to contribute and take part in the lush musical landscape that Rochester has to offer.”
In addition to his position at RocMusic, Peña teaches violin and viola, and directs Piccolo Strings at the Eastman Community Music School. Peña is also a founding member, violist, artistic advisor, and Children and Community Education Coordinator for the Lakes Area Music Festival in Minnesota. In addition to teaching, Peña frequently performs with ¡Voila!, a viola trio which will be featured on WXXI FM’s Backstage Pass series on Nov. 11.
Peña’s musical studies began in the Texas public school system before later focusing on private lessons in high school with Eastman alumna and principal violist of the San Antonio Symphony Allyson Dawkins. He then attended Eastman School of Music, where he earned a Bachelor in Music in Viola Performance and Music Education in 2010. This month, Peña will be awarded a Master of Music degree in Viola Performance and Literature and an Arts Leadership Certificate at Eastman.
Last year, Peña was awarded the Robert L. Oppelt Viola Prize, which is annually presented to an outstanding viola student at Eastman. Recently, Peña received a professional studies grant from The Harley School, which allowed him to train and study Dalcroze Eurythmics in Toronto, Canada.
More information about the RocMusic program is available online at rocmusic.org, by calling 585-490-1559, or by writing RocMusicKids@gmail.com.
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