UND student violinist Vinicius Sant’Ana knows the way ? practice and a whole lot more


Amy Halvorson

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UND student violinist Vinicius Sant’Ana knows the way ? practice and a whole lot more

"On that Friday (Nov. 28), I had one of the biggest dreams a musician could have come true," said Vinicius Sant'Ana.

Sant'Ana, a Sao Paulo, Brazil native and University of North Dakota student violinist, was referring to his recent prestigious honor of playing violin in the revered Carnegie Hall in New York City.

"For me, it was more than special because I was able to have my solo debut at Carnegie Hall with Orquestra Instituto Grupo Pao de Acucar (GPA), the orchestra group that taught me how to hold a violin," Sant'Ana said.

Sant'Ana didn't come from a musical family; his father is a police officer and his mother is a secretary.

"The only things I knew at that time were playing video games and soccer," he said.

One day Sant'Ana's dad happened to see a poster advertising music lessons at the Instituto GPA. And so, by mere chance, Sant'Ana ended up taking music lessons at age 12.

"The only instrument options to learn were classical, so I chose the violin because it was the most popular," said Sant'Ana.

After two years of practice, Sant'Ana was given the option to join the orchestra."By age 15, I knew I wanted to be a professional musician," he said.

And, at age 15, Sant'Ana became the concert master of the orchestra.

"We had played at many other places in order to get (to Carnegie Hall), starting at supermarkets and hospitals, and eventually working our way up to performing in places such as Paris and Italy," said Sant'Ana.

Sant'Ana had played regularly with the Orquestra Instituto GPA until coming to UND to study music three years ago. He recently received an invitation from the Orquestra Instituto GPA, asking him to rejoin the group for a performance at one of the most prestigious recital halls of all ? Carnegie.

"I was just shocked and amazed at the unique opportunity," he said. To play at Carnegie Hall, is one of the highest honors an orchestra can strive for. I appreciated that they invited me because I worked extremely hard for many years for them."

The Orquestra Instituto GPA offered to pay for Sant'Ana's hotel and food expenses, but he still had to come up with money to pay for his travel.

When Sant'Ana brought this concern to his UND professor, Alejandro Drago, "he immediately said 'don't worry, we'll take care of it,'" said Sant'Ana.

Sant'Ana has felt an overwhelming amount of support for this endeavor from the Music Department at UND and feels that it wouldn't have been possible without them.

Sant'Ana also expressed his sincerest gratitude to Amy Muiderman, who helped raise funds for his travel costs, by offering cooking lessons.

And before he knew it, Sant'Ana was on his way to the Big Apple to live out his dream as a musician at Carnegie Hall.

"The sound acoustics were just perfect," he said. "You can't believe you are making that sound with your instrument. It's easy to see why it's so famous."

During the Thanksgiving concert, Sant'Ana and the group were led by conductor Daniel Misiuk, performing works by Tchaikovsky, Wieniawski, Breiner and Kreisler, as well as renditions of Billy Joel's "New York State of Mind."

UND President Robert Kelley and his wife, Marcia, personally congratulated Sant'Ana on his achievement, as he is one of the very few UND students and alumni who have performed within the walls of Carnegie Hall.

"It was a privilege representing UND while preforming at Carnegie Hall," said Sant'Ana. "It was an amazing experience that I'll never forget."

Amy Halvorson University & Public Affairs student writer

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