Sarasota Performing Arts Center Foundation Artist-in-Residence Shares Talent and Message of Inclusion

Adrian hugging small child.

By Sarasota Scene | February 3, 2023 – Sarasota

Last week, the Sarasota Performing Arts Center Foundation (also known as Van Wezel Foundation) hosted its newest artist-in-residence, Adrian Anantawan, for several days of music workshops and performances. Born without a right hand, Adrian 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. The violin virtuoso was accompanied by award-winning pianist Leigh Hope McAllister, a recent Boston Conservatory scholarship graduate born with three fingers on her left hand and no left elbow, what is known as a left ulnar deficiency.

Adrian’s week kicked off on Tuesday with a trip to St. Petersburg’s Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, where he visited with and gave private performances to patients. On Wednesday, Adrian attended the 2023 Principals’ Luncheon held at the Circus Arts Conservatory, where he addressed the crowd as the event’s keynote speaker. The luncheon honored Sarasota County Principals and their work in arts education.

Thursday’s itinerary included two private workshops at a local preschool and the Resilient Retreat. On Saturday, Adrian and Leigh joined teaching artist Stevey Jones at the Newtown Farmers Market in Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park for a family-friendly outdoor event. Adrian and Leigh alternated between storytelling and playing both classical violin and fiddle music for the young crowd.

On Sunday, Adrian’s residency culminated in a free public concert by the bay. As part of the Sarasota Performing Arts Foundation’s “Sundays at the Bay” concert series, more than 750 residents gathered late afternoon to enjoy the talents of Adrian and Leigh. Taking place at the Oval at the Bay, the concert showcased the intersection of classical music and the duo’s extraordinary talent.

“Adrian Anantawan is a true inspiration as both a world-class violinist and a passionate advocate for individuals with disabilities. He embodies the limitless potential of the human spirit and reminds us that ability, not disability, defines us. It was both an honor and pleasure to share his talent and work with the Sarasota community,” said Sarasota Performing Arts Center Foundation Board Chair and Interim CEO Jim Travers.

Adrian Anantawan said, “Music is my passion and so much more. It is my way of bringing joy to others, of inspiring and connecting. I feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to engage with the Sarasota community as the Sarasota Performing Arts Center Foundation’s artist-in-residence and to have been a part of its rich cultural fabric. I am humbled by the support and love I received over the past week and will remember this experience for years to come.”

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