This month, we caught up with Sébastien Ridore, a 2015 BYSO alumnus. Sébastien got his start in ICP at the age of 7, rising through the ranks and ultimately performing with BYS for two years before his graduation. After seeing how much his older sister enjoyed playing violin with ICP, Sébastien begged his mom to let him join too. He chose the viola as his instrument, because “I thought it was unique, just like I am.”
While sitting on the stage with a full symphonic orchestra was thrilling for Sébastien–he recalls “I had a bad habit of turning around to hear the winds play because it was the first time I was exposed to those instruments”–it was at camp during his second year in Junior Repertory Orchestra (JRO) that things changed. A chamber group needed a violist and asked him to join. Working in a smaller ensemble for the first time, “I really had to open up my ear, not just learn the notes but study the score, like a jigsaw puzzle. I really enjoyed putting the pieces together…I could have an opinion, discuss, come up with something we all really liked; that process was cool.”
When it came time to think about college, Sébastien settled on Sunderman Conservatory of Music at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, PA because its close-knit community was similar to the supportive BYSO environment that had nurtured him for over a decade. When he first realized he might want to pursue music as a career, his BYSO family rallied around him and guided him throughout the process. In fact, “they had always been prepping me for the possibility, recommending different summer camps and festivals just in case I wanted to take that path, they made sure I was ready for it…I had a whole team helping me.”
Inspirational teachers like Joan Ellersick and Ashleigh Gordon clearly left an impression on Sébastien. He has followed in their footsteps to create a strong community for young musicians from underrepresented communities, noting that “ICP was ahead of the curve in recognizing the importance of accessibility.” Sébastien has recently been teaching private students at ICP and coaching PE and YPSO classes, where he’s able to tailor his approach and materials based on their needs because “I know the standards, what it takes, how intense it is.” Prior to teaching with ICP, Sébastien ran the music program for the Immigrant Family Services Institute, and he is currently the Vivaldi Director at Boston Music Project, which works to ensure the long-term social-emotional and musical success of children and youth through quality music education and performance.
Sébastien continues to perform as well as teach, with his most recent endeavor being the new chamber collective Analog By Choice (https://www.analogbychoice.com/). ABC is dedicated to producing high quality performances featuring historically underrepresented composers alongside their better-known contemporaries. Their unique approach programs each concert around a single letter of the alphabet, expanding their repertoire while providing audiences with a fun and engaging entry point to both new and familiar music. Catch their next concert—brought to you by the letter C—on April 22 at 3pm at Allen Hall in Boston!