Van Wezel Foundation Announces Artist-in-Residence

Adrian Anantawan playing violin.

Originally published by Sarasota Scene

The Van Wezel Foundation announced Adrian Anantawan as its newest artist-in-residence. Anantawan is a world-class violinist and educator, was born without a right hand, and now advocates for people with disabilities to raise awareness about issues of access and equity in arts communities. 

“The Van Wezel Foundation is pleased to announce Adrian Anantawan for this year’s artist-in-residence program. As a multi-talented musician, educator, and advocate, we’re excited that Adrian will join us to illuminate the power of the arts. ,” said Cheryl Mendelson, CEO of the Van Wezel Foundation. “Attracting performing artists like Adrian allows the community to engage in a year-long exploration of accessibility in the arts. This is exactly the type of programming that will make the new Sarasota Performing Arts Center a place for ideas, a place for artists and a place for you.” 

The residency will begin with meetings with community partners and a Strings Master Class on October 25th. Anantawan will return to the area early next year to work with social service organizations, schools, the community, and health organizations to explore accessibility through the arts. The Residency will also include a free public recital at the Bay. 

The Van Wezel Foundation’s artist-in-residence program started in 2021 with Kennedy Center Citizen Artist, Olmeca. The program brings a nationally recognized artist to the Gulf Coast Region to engage in artistic exploration of a community need. The 2023 residency answer the question: What does accessibility in the arts mean, and what does it look like in our community? It will address accessibility and the arts through performances, lectures, and workshops as well as building and strengthening relationships with individuals with disabilities in the Sarasota community. 

“I can tell you without a doubt that music has transformed my life. I am grateful to be working in such an arts-rich community. As the Van Wezel Foundation artist-in-residence, I look forward to working throughout the community to engage in meaningful conversations about the transformative power of the arts, said Adrian Anantawan. “This is what brings me joy.”

About Adrian Anantawan: 

Adrian Anantawan holds degrees from the Curtis Institute of Music, Yale University, and Harvard Graduate School of Education. As a violinist, he studied with Itzhak Perlman and Pinchas Zukerman, and Anne-Sophie Mutter; his academic work in education was supervised by Howard Gardner. Memorable moments include performances at the White House, the Opening Ceremonies of the Athens and Vancouver Olympic Games, and the United Nations. He has played for the late Christopher Reeve, Pope John Paul II, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. 

Adrian has performed extensively in Canada as a soloist with the Orchestras of Toronto, Nova Scotia, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Montreal, Edmonton, and Vancouver. He has also presented feature recitals at the Aspen Music Festival and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. He also represented Canada as a cultural ambassador in the 2006 Athens Olympics and was a featured performer at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremonies. Adrian helped to create the Virtual Chamber Music Initiative at the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehab Centre. The cross-collaborative project brings researchers, musicians, doctors, and educators together to develop adaptive musical instruments capable of being played by a young person with disabilities within a chamber music setting. He is also the founder of the Music Inclusion Program, aimed at having children with disabilities learn instrumental music with their typical peers. 

From 2012-2016, he was the co-Director of Music at the Conservatory Lab Charter School, serving students from the Boston area, kindergarten through grade eight—his work was recognized by Mayor Marty Walsh as a ONEin3 Impact Award in 2015. Adrian is also a Juno Award nominee, a member of the Terry Fox Hall of Fame, and was awarded a Diamond Jubilee Medal from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for his contributions to the Commonwealth. He is the current Chair of Music at Milton Academy, the Artistic Director of Shelter Music Boston, and is on faculty at Boston University Tanglewood Institute during the summer. Throughout the year, Adrian continues to perform, speak and teach around the world as an advocate for disability and the arts.

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