Sarasota Performing Arts Center Foundation Announces Public Events for Artist-in-Residence Adrian Anantawan

Adrian Anantawan playing violin.

(Sarasota, FL) – On Saturday, January 28th, and Sunday, January 29th, the Sarasota Performing Arts Center Foundation (also known as Van Wezel Foundation) will host two free, public performances for its newest artist-in-residence, Adrian Anantawan. Born without a right hand, Anantawan is a world-class violinist and educator who now advocates for people with disabilities to raise awareness about issues of access and equity in arts communities. Anantawan will be accompanied by award-winning pianist Leigh Hope McAllister. McAllister was born with three fingers on her left hand and no left elbow, what is known as a left ulnar deficiency, and is a recent Boston Conservatory scholarship graduate. The artist-in-residence is  supported by Dr. Jenne Britell, Vice Chair of the Sarasota Performing Arts Center  Foundation Board of Directors.

Sarasota Performing Arts Center 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 answers 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.

“Adrian is a true virtuoso who has exemplified a strong commitment to the arts and the mission of the Van Wezel Foundation. We are absolutely thrilled to kick off the new year and Adrian’s residency exploring arts and accessibility,” said Cheryl Mendelson, CEO of the Sarasota Performing Arts Center Foundation.

The following events are open to press:

WHO: Adrian Anantawan, Artist-in-Residence
WHAT: Mr. Stevey and Friends; This is a free, family-friendly outdoor event.
WHEN: Saturday, January 28th @ 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. 
WHERE: Newton Farmers Market, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park in Sarasota’s Historic Newtown Neighborhood; 2523 Cocoanut Ave, Sarasota, FL 34234

WHO: Adrian Anantawan, Artist-in-Residence
WHAT: Sundays at the Bay; This is a free concert showcasing the intersection of beautiful classical music and extraordinary talent.
WHEN: Sunday, January 29th @ 4:30 p.m – 5:30 p.m.
WHERE: The Oval at The Bay; 1055 Blvd of the Arts Sarasota, FL 34236

*Anantawan will be available for interviews at both events.

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.

About Leigh Hope McAllister:

Leigh is a Chinese-American adoptee raised in Sonoma County, California. Born with three fingers on her left hand and no left elbow, Leigh has what is called a left ulnar deficiency. With a yearning to meet her biological mother one day, Leigh has been on a passionate and relentless journey with piano performance; she has performed in both Weill Hall and Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center of Sonoma State University (SSU), and in Seully Hall at the Boston Conservatory. In February of 2017, she performed Camille Saint-Saëns’ Le Carnaval des Animaux for two pianos and orchestra with the SSU Symphony and with her colleague, pianist Talyn Imhoff. In December of 2018, Leigh filled Schroeder hall for her Senior Recital to complete her Bachelor of Music degree. The following year, Leigh performed a concert in Schroeder Hall, with the opportunity to perform several solo piano works as well as collaborative works with the Santa Rosa Symphony’s principal clarinetist Roy Zajac and Leigh’s teacher, pianist Marilyn Thompson. Leigh has received the Evert B. Person, Marvin Olson Memorial, and Vesta Jelte Music Scholarships for outstanding performance, and she is a recent scholarship graduate from the Boston Conservatory, where she studied with Jessica Chow Shinn. While working as a collaborative pianist in Greater Boston, Leigh aspires to reach her goal of education attaining a Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) degree to be able to inspire and shape future generations.

Learn More about Adrian Anantawan.

Learn More about the Sarasota Performing Arts Center Foundation.

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