In Balboa Park, there’s no better way to start summer than with a symphony at sunset. In June, fluttering flutes, lilting strings, and the unmistakable sound of a taxi horn resounded throughout the Plaza de Panama as San Diego Youth Symphony’s Symphony Orchestra performed Gershwin’s popular classic, “An American in Paris,” on the steps of the San Diego Art Museum for an enchanting free concert.
Bruno Bello, a 16-year-old cellist, was thrilled to be there. Last year was his first season performing in Symphony Orchestra, the most advanced ensemble of musicians at SDYS, and playing this piece as been his favorite experience with SDYS.
Bruno says he always dreamed of joining the ensemble, but didn’t expect it to happen until much later. “I remember thinking they were professionals,” Bruno says. But, due to his dedication, Bruno was able to join Symphony Orchestra as a high school freshman last year. “Being able to achieve that is more and more motivation to keep working, and the passion that I have for music just keeps growing,” he says.
Bruno has studied music in SDYS’ programs for seven years, since starting in the Community Opus Project as a 3rd grader when it first offered an after-school music program in Chula Vista. Before then, Bruno had never seen a cello, let alone played one.
“I was completely engaged,” Bruno says. “Before learning music in Opus, I had an interest in music but I never had the means to pursue music education. Since then, music has helped me become who I am today.”
His mom, Veronica, noticed that playing cello was affecting Bruno in other ways, too.
“Bruno made a positive change in his behavior,” she says. “Over time, he became more engaged in school—he didn’t want to miss a single day of class and was doing his homework without me having to tell him.”
Now, Bruno is the first of SDYS’ students to progress through the Community Opus Project and advance to the highest level of our Conservatory program.
“It has been through music that I have developed my ambition, perseverance, and work ethic,” Bruno says. He firmly believes that music is important in enriching anyone’s life, as it has enriched his own. “Music has given me all the tools and means to pursue my dreams,” he says. He’s since made one of those dreams a reality—with the performance of that cheerful Gershwin piece for the first time at last year’s fall concerts.
“Not only was it my first performance playing in the Symphony Orchestra, but [it] was actually the very first piece of classical music I had ever heard performed live in a concert hall,” Bruno says. He recalls the impression it made on him then, when he had just started playing the cello. For his mom, the time has passed all too quickly.
“Now I become very emotional when I see him playing in Symphony Orchestra,” Veronica says. “I’m so proud of him!”