From Costa Rica to the U.S….

Elizandro is one of our guest artists for our upcoming outreach tour to Costa Rica. Read on to learn more about his journey.

A young Elizandro Garcia-Montoya

A young Elizandro Garcia-Montoya

From San Ramon to Cleveland…

By Elizandro Garcia-Montoya

Learning music in a small community like San Ramon, Costa Rica presented several challenges in my early training. First of all, instruments, sheet music and accessories were very scarce. Specialized education was a luxury and implied traveling a long distance; usually 2 hours by bus to get to a clarinet lesson, choir or theory class at the conservatory in San Jose.

As a young student, I found it very exciting to learn about music and the clarinet. My desire to learn made it bearable to travel 3 times a week to San Jose for my lesson, class and rehearsals. I was constantly entertained by learning facts about composer’s lives, and how their music came about.

My first trip abroad as a young musician came at the age of 13. I traveled to Brazil, Ecuador and Mexico with a Youth Wind Ensemble sponsored by the Costa Rican Government and the OEA (Organization of American States).  This trip was a great inspiration for me and it was then when I decided to dedicate my life to music.

Many events and opportunities for learning have occurred after that memorable trip. Solo and chamber music competitions, summer festivals, tours; but it was during my studies at The Cleveland Institute of Music that I saw one of my dreams come to reality. I was invited to perform with the Cleveland Orchestra! On my first performance with the Cleveland Orchestra we played Also Sprach Zarathustra by Strauss. Not only the piece itself is majestic, but the event marked the realization that dreams do come true!

Performing the famous opening theme of Also Sprach Zarathustra, also used by Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 movie “2001 Space Oddyssey”, was a very special moment in my life. I could feel very strong emotions running through my body as the piece started. I could not help but  remember my humble beginnings in San Ramon, Costa Rica.

I am motivated to help Sound Impact’s mission to bring learning opportunities to these students in Costa Rica. I am certain there are many students that will use the resources we bring and will start dreaming on about a life full of fulfilling experiences in music.

Following a Cleveland Orchestra Concert

Following a Cleveland Orchestra Concert


Heartfelt Gratitude

Monday June 16, 2014

By Rebecca Jackson

When you dig deep and think back to when you were a little kid, what were some of the big dreams you had? This is something I have been thinking about over the course of this most extraordinary of days…

Earlier today we had our regular meeting via GoogleHangout. Amidst discussing the many logistics involved in planning our Costa Rica tour, there were outbursts of joyous laughter as we remarked on being just 6% away from reaching our funding goal. During our meeting we were alerted of a couple more donations which caused more squeals of delight.


Celebrating via Google Hangout

As the day progressed our goal was achieved and exceeded. Not only have our needs been met to fund our tour but exceeding our goal allows us to bring even more music supplies for the students than originally planned – such excitement and gratitude!! During my long commute I reflected…

I recalled in the brainstorming phase how passionate we were about this outreach project but also accompanied by feelings of trepidation about how or if we could find the funding to make it possible. This quickly took me back to being a young child when dreams or desires were uninhibited by fear or doubt. How easy it is to depart from that unfettered wonder and pursuit.

How glad I am that Danielle, Tiffany, and I decided to take a leap of faith. Daily we have been moved by the generosity of messages and donations. Attaining our goal signifies more than the means necessary to empower hundreds of Costa Rican students. Equally significant, each supporter has given us a renewed sense of purpose, reaffirming our mission to serve through music.

I hope our journey inspires you to continue to dream and shoot for the stars!

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” –Pablo Picasso


Rebecca, Tiffany, and Danielle


A conversation with Dani

For our 2014 Costa Rica tour, we are absolutely thrilled to be joined by violinist Daniel Andai.  Dani is not only an incredible violinist but a passionate music educator, as Artistic Director of the Kilington Music Festival and violin professor at the University of Texas in Edinburg.


Tell us a little about your background. How did you get into music?

I got into music as a young boy when my parents gave me a toy violin as a gift.  It seemed to have been my favorite toy because I showed enough enthusiasm for it that my parents felt compelled to start me on violin lessons.  Apparently the hard work I put into the instrument was paying off because I started winning competitions, leading the local youth orchestras as a concertmaster and traveling to perform.  I was fascinated by expanding my knowledge of instruments and learned to play the cello and piano as well.  By the time I was in high school, I was being invited to different parts of the world, as far east as Russia, to perform as a soloist with orchestras.  By the time I earned a doctorate degree from graduate school, I had performed as a soloist, chamber musician, clinician and concertmaster of professional orchestras in over 50 countries, on 5 continents, and over 30 States in the U.S. and won violin professor positions at universities in Texas and Florida.

You are the Artistic Director of the Killington Music Festival.  Can you talk about your experience there? 

Being the Artistic Director of a music festival is a highly rewarding position.  I am responsible for unifying a vision of educational standards and performance goals for interested students, faculty artists and audience members, so that they have a memorable experience. Managing all the artistic needs of the 32 year old festival is particularly meaningful to me because I am an Alumni of the festival.

Why is music education important to the younger generations?

Education in general is one of the most powerful tools our world has in shaping its future.  Experiencing high quality education permits a student to meet or exceed their potential.  Music education in particular offers many benefits that students can use in their musical and social development. While these benefits are too many to describe in detail here, as a violin professor, I have witnessed first hand the power that music has had on students that have permitted them to take control of many other aspects of their lives.

Can you tell us about a rewarding experience you’ve had working with underserved communities? 

I recently created and directed a project to link music composition, paintings and a symphony orchestra to young students from an under-served area of Miami.  The students’ creative and inquisitive minds yielded astounding results.  In several sessions over a period of a few months, my team and I witnessed how this project gave students an opportunity to express their inner love of music, art and poetry, regardless of their skill level, that resulted in 5 symphonic world premieres performed by The Miami Symphony Orchestra during one of their subscription series.  It was moving for everyone involved, the orchestra, the audience, the parents and most of all, the young and talented students!

What is your process when tackling new works?

Tackling new works can seem like a daunting experience if one isn’t used to the process.  The first thing I like to do is acquaint myself with the work as thoroughly as possible.  I like to have an idea of the style it should be played in, find different sections that appear throughout the work and also understand the technical demands of the piece.  Once this is in order, I work on combining the style with the technique, to achieve the sound and character I feel the piece is asking for.  Only then do I decide on the bowing and fingering decisions I’ll use to achieve the character and sound I seek.

Who has been your most influential musical hero?

This is a challenging question to answer because I have learned valuable lessons from so many people I have encountered over my lifetime that have contributed to my musical development.  Sometimes I wish I could meet some of the the composers whose music I interpret, to thank them for their inspiration, and other times, thank those individuals who shared their wisdom to help me nurture my musical voice.

Why is music important for our world?

Music is all around us.  We experience some aspect of music, sometimes without realizing it, in just about everything we do.  Everyone has the power to connect with rhythm and pitch at some level.  What is often times challenging is the organization of these elements to achieve expressive results, to be effectively shared with others. Music allows people to express feelings when words would fail to do so, while it is a tool that can also be used to enhance feelings when words are available.  Having the ability to coordinate pitch and rhythm to match an emotion helps develop ones brain and motor skills, in addition to being able to communicate using one of the world’s most universal languages.  It is also one of the biggest promoters of peace that I have ever encountered.  Imagine, 40 nations can be represented in a symphony orchestra to work towards a common goal – to experience music together!

If you think of your favorite teacher, what made them a great teacher?

My favorite teachers had something in common: they were talented and deeply cared about music and the transference of that music to me.  I also think that in order to be a great teacher, the student needs to be inspired and ready to learn.

Who is your favorite visual artist and why?

Lately I have been focusing my attention to the Dutch painter, Johannes Vermeer.  I am fascinated by his techniques and possible methods of painting.  He seemed to be a visionary, and I appreciate that.


Hailed by The New York Times as an “Exemplary Leader” for leading members of the New York Philharmonic and the Manhattan School of Music in Carnegie Hall, violinist Daniel Andai has shared his versatile artistry as a soloist, recitalist, chamber musician, concertmaster, conductor and recording artist in major concert venues across five continents, the Middle East, the Caribbean and over 30 United States.

Daniel Andai is concertmaster, frequent soloist and guest conductor of The Miami Symphony Orchestra (MISO). He was also concertmaster and frequent soloist of the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas in New York with whom he recorded the Billboard’s highly rated SONY Classical CD’s and made televised solo appearances for a crowd of millions during Mexico’s Bicentennial celebrations at the Angel de Independencia. He has held concertmaster positions with orchestras in Mexico, Brazil, Switzerland, and France, performed in the sections of the New York Philharmonic and the Miyazaki Festival Orchestra in Japan.  Daniel Andai is the Artistic Director of the Killington Music Festival in Vermont and violin professor at the University of Texas in Edinburg.  Previously he served as visiting professor and chair of the Marialice Shivers Endowment in Fine Arts at the University of Texas in Edinburg and on faculties at Miami-Dade College and New World School of the Arts. He earned a doctorate degree from the University of Miami, the masters and professional studies degree from the Manhattan School of Music and the bachelor degree cum laude from Lynn University Conservatory of Music.


If you would like to help support our Costa Rica tour, please visit Sound Impact’s KICKSTARTER page for more information.  



Growing up in Costa Rica

Sound Impact will embark on a 10-day tour of Costa Rica this August to present a series of masterclasses and chamber music concerts in both rural and urban venues,empowering children through music, serving their communities, and promoting cross-cultural relations. 

by Elizandro Garcia-Montoya

It is my pleasure to write a few words about the importance of Sound Impact’s tour to Costa Rica. I’m a clarinetist born and raised in Costa Rica.  I feel honored to have been invited to join the Sound Impact tour to Costa Rica for many reasons. One of the most important reasons is to bring education and musical supplies to schools in remote areas in Costa Rica.

I grew up in San Ramon, Costa Rica, a small town in the Central Valley about 2 hours northwest of the capital San Jose.  My father, Victor Julio Garcia, started a music program in San Ramon in the 1970s, which received some support from the local high school and the municipal government in San Ramon.

The music program started with a few students and some instruments donated by the municipal government. These instruments had been in storage for many years after the military band era in the 20’s and 30’s. As you can imagine, these instruments were in pretty bad condition, nevertheless they offered an opportunity for young students to make their initial steps as music students.


The program named Youth Orchestra of Instituto Julio Acosta, started with about 9 students. In a few years the program grew rapidly due to my father’s effort and the perseverance of the students, and became an important part of the community life in San Ramon, and later a model for music schools in Costa Rica. In his effort to find ways to make the music program grow in San Ramon, my father encouraged a few students, including myself, to study at the National Conservatory in San Jose. The idea was to expand our musical education at the conservatory, and then come back to San Ramon to share this knowledge with the other students at the school.

The Youth Orchestra of Instituto Julio Acosta in San Ramon grew way beyond its expectations and by the late 1980’s it was one of the most successful music programs in Costa Rica. Students from this program went on to study music at national and international institutions.


One of first students of this music program was Manuel Alpizar, now the director of Sinem in San Ramon. After his initial studies in San Ramon, Manuel Alpizar went on to study at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow.  Many students of this program became not only professional musicians, but also successful professionals in other fields.

The basic premise of the program was to use music as a powerful tool to teach discipline, perseverance and to empower change through music.


Clarinetist Elizandro Garcia-Montoya is an active performer and educator. He has performed with the Cleveland Orchestra, the Charleston Symphony, Houston Grand Opera, Jacksonville Symphony and the State of Mexico Orchestra in Toluca, Mexico.  A prizewinner in the 1999 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition, he has performed with groups such as the Chicago Chamber Musicians, Fulcrum Point New Music Project, Pilgrim Chamber Players and The Chicago Ensemble, among others.  Mr. Garcia-Montoya has performed at numerous music festivals including Tanglewood, National Repertory Orchestra, Kent/Blossom Music, International Festival at Round Top, Spoleto/USA and Yale University’s Norfolk Chamber Music Festival.  Mr. Garcia-Montoya completed his master’s degree at Rice University.  He also holds a bachelor’s degree from Baylor University, a professional studies diploma from the Cleveland Institute of Music, and pursued additional post graduate studies at DePaul University.  Mr. Garcia-Montoya lives in Chicago, IL and is currently principal clarinetist of the New Hampshire Music Festival and the New Millennium Orchestra in Chicago.

For more information on our tour, please visit: