by Danielle Cho
As I sit here on the plane returning to Washington DC, I am filled with many emotions from this incredibly inspiring trip to Costa Rica. As a musician, I feel lucky to have the opportunity to travel to many different countries and encounter new people and cultures. Personally, it enriches me both as a human being and a musician. This was my second time to Costa Rica (I will return again in three weeks with Sound Impact). This particular trip, I performed with jazz guitarist Mike Rood as part of serving the Abraham Project, a wonderful organization based in San José, Costa Rica. I first met Mike after playing chamber music with his father, violinist Richard Rood, at Rebecca’s festival Music in May. Richard, Mike, and I have spent some winters in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I always knew Mike was an awesome guitar player and one day I mentioned, hey we should play some duets together. So last year, we got to perform some in Washington DC and New York City, and what I enjoy so much is that i get to venture outside of the classical music world. I even took a stab at some improvising (go figure!)
We presented concerts in marginal communities in San Jose, often for people who don’t have access to hear live music concerts. One special experience was to perform at a small community in San Jose called Río Azul. It’s an extremely impoverished community, basically a slum, where drugs and prostitution are rampant. Perched on a beautiful mountainside with vibrant colors and lights, many of the houses are made of tin – the foundation so precarious that it seemed if there were a huge storm, the houses would be washed away in minutes. While I know there are so many communities like this, far worse, all over the world, I haven’t been exposed to many and to perform for this community was quite a special experience.
Another highlight was performing at the Montufar Elementary School. I already know some of the children who attend this school from my trip last year. Some of these kids are part of the Abraham Project’s children’s homes. Many of them have horrific unimaginable stories with parents either in jail or unable to care for them. But when you meet these children, they are some of the sweetest, most purest human beings I have met. Their hugs are powerful. As we went from classroom to classroom, the kids were screaming with excitement and cheering loudly to the music. What joy and eagerness!
A story that particularly touched me was a girl who attended our concert last year, when Rebecca Jackson was playing. She was so enthralled with Rebecca’s violin playing that Rebecca told her, next year I want to see that you are playing the violin too. She came to my concert this year to share that she has been studying the violin for the past seven months, and she’s loving it! How awesome is that! It goes to show that you just never know who you’re going to impact. We have to keep doing what we love and sharing that passion with others all across the world!
And… well what would a trip be without some sightseeing in this beautiful country? Normally when I’m traveling and performing, there is hardly any time to get to see the sights. It’s usually jam packed into a morning off or a few hours tucked in a day, but it was nice to get a WHOLE day to decompress and relish in the lush Costa Rican landscape, especially after the jam-packed week. We started the day with a coffee tour of a plantation, then to Poas Volcano, and ended up at La Paz Waterfalls. The views were spectacular, and I got to practice my photography skills with my new Canon lens. 🙂
I don’t know why but I completely freaked out about having a toucan sit on my arm, but after a couple minutes of screaming, I got to take the picture.
So I’ll be returning to this beautiful country in less than three weeks with an amazing team – Rebecca Jackson, Daniel Andai, Tiffany Richardson, and Elizandro Garcia-Montoya. We’ll be visiting five cities – San Jose, San Ramon, Acosta, Heredia, and Liberia. Thank you again to all our kickstarter backers. We look forward to sharing all our stories with you, and stay tuned for a documentary coming your way in the Fall!