Sunday, February 18 , 2018, 8:34 pm | Fair 51º


Students Take Note as San Marcos Welcomes Pianist for ‘D.R.E.A.M. Talks’ Series

The high school's new outreach program launches with musician Charlie Albright, who shares his experiences and inspirations

Some San Marcos High School students shouted out different musical notes. Those suggestions then came to life Tuesday when 24-year-old pianist Charlie Albright sat down in the Santa Barbara school's auditorium to play.

“I love improvising,” said Albright, a professional award-winning musician who began playing piano by ear at age 3. “I used to do this a lot before I learned how to actually read music.”

A half-full auditorium of students, teachers and staff marveled at the young talent during the school’s first “D.R.E.A.M. Talks,” standing for Dance, Recording, Entertainment, Arts and Music.

Modeled after the popular TED talks, vocal teacher Carolyn Teraoka-Brady organized the San Marcos outreach program to allow guest artists, directors, teachers and others to share their experiences in varying disciplines.

UC Santa Barbara Arts & Lectures sponsored the kickoff event ahead of Albright’s live performance Wednesday, set for 7 p.m. at the Music Academy of the West’s Hahn Hall.

After sampling Albright’s talent, a panel of students moderated a question-and-answer session, asking what inspires the artist and how he improvises so well.

“Notes lend themselves to others,” he said, adding they need to be shaped into song.

When asked what other instrument Albright would play, if he could, the young man from a small town in Washington joked that nothing would be better than piano before giving a nod to the violin.

“It would be cool to not have to play a new instrument everywhere else,” he said.

Albright said he stuck with music but initially developed a backup plan, attending Harvard University to study economics and pre-med.

“I realized that music, for me, was something that was a passion,” he said. “Medicine and business were interests. Even though it’s risky, I wanted to give it a full go. You’ve got to keep it fun. I still find piano fun, and I hope that it stays that way.”

Students listened attentively as Albright described famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma as a down-to-earth musical role model he has collaborated with on several occasions.

Some young girls were audibly displeased when Albright mentioned he had a girlfriend as part of his support system.

“Will you be able to play something else for us?” a student asked.

Albright played a rendition of the "Turkish March," eliciting smiles, applause and a standing ovation.

As the brains behind the program, Teraoka-Brady said she was pleased with the first installment, which she hopes will become a monthly event building a stronger student community.

“Of course, our speaker was right up their alley,” she said, noting Albright’s age and potential impact on the younger generation.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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