2014 In Review

Our first full season has been action-packed. We are so thankful to the many collaborators who helped expand our mission and to our incredibly loyal and generous supporters. As 2014 draws to a close, the following is a reflection on some of the highlights from the past year.

Project Claytie: Danielle, Tiffany, and Rebecca met with playwright and director Claytie Mason weaving a musical thread into her play for and about children dealing with life-threatening illness. In April we celebrated the debut in New York City.






Project Sarasota: Collaboration with members of the Sarasota Opera empowering girls at an after school program.

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Project Homestretch: A June visit to Homestretch, a program serving homeless families in Virginia.







Project Costa Rica: Many planning meetings discussing repertoire, logistics, and fundraising for a 10-day tour, teaching and performing in schools all across Costa Rica.10624860_565318036906313_3508233403758806837_n





Project Costa Rica: An exciting and fruitful tour empowering many children and promoting cross cultural relationships through music.






Performance at BeanGood Café celebrating our Project Costa Rica supporters.





Developing and presenting an interactive and educational program, SHALL WE DANCE.








First meetings with our new board members Rachel Brumberger and Michael Sapienza.






Project Chris4Life: Premiering a new commissioned piece for the Chris4Life Colon Cancer Foundation at their annual Blue Hope Bash.






Project Fulbright: Presentation and performance at the Fulbright Annual Convention.






Danielle and Rebecca collaborating with National Geographic’s Emerging Explorer, DJ Spooky.






Outreach performance at the Goodwin House.







Holiday party at Hugo Creative.






Outreach performance at the Juvenile Detention Center in Felton, California.







Happy New Year!! We truly look forward to continuing deepening these partnerships and exploring new horizons. Thank you for taking part in this journey with us!

Giving Thanks this Holiday Season

There is so much to be thankful for, including the many friendships made through Sound Impact. This blog was a fun way to reconnect with our organization and project partners. We are thankful to them and our many supporters!! We are giving thanks and wishing  all of you a very Happy Holidays!

Rachel with her husband

Rachel with her husband


In the beautiful autumn light walking through my neighborhood today I realized how grateful I am for the life I am living. This year I remain thankful for having a roof over my head that I love which I share with my beloved, and a neighborhood and community where I can really enjoy my days. I’m thankful for my deep friendships with many wonderful people, the wellbeing and humor of my family, my snuggly cat, and my husband (an all around wonderful human) – all who nourish my spirit on a daily basis just by being in my life.

-Rachel Brumberger, Sound Impact Board Member






First of all, I can’t believe how fast this year has flown by! When I sit back and reflect, I am grateful for so many things… family, friends, health, community. As a musician, I am thankful to have been part of so many rewarding projects and moving musical experiences through different collaborations. I am thankful to my partners in crime- Rebecca and Tiffany. We started with a small dream and in a short amount of time, we continue to expand and build partnerships and projects to inspire and bring music to many different communities.

-Danielle Cho, Cellist & Co-Founder





Eliza with her kitty Ginger

Eliza with her kitty Ginger


I am thankful for life! It is the best gift I have ever received. Nothing can trump a wonderful bond between you and a loved one. I am also grateful to live in a country where the opportunities and resources are endless and the impossible is possible.

-Eliza Cho, Violinist, Project Sarasota







I am grateful for the many colleagues that I get to share music with everyday, for my family and friends, and all the little things in life that make us happy!

-Jennifer Choi, Violinist, Project DJ Spooky@ Culture Hub






elizandroI am thankful to God for good health, family, friends and the opportunities I had this year to share life changing experiences through the gift of music. This picture (to the left) is very significant to me because it was taken after a very moving performance of Sound Impact in my hometown San Ramon, Alajuela Costa Rica. To my left in the picture, my niece Alexa Armas, who was visiting Costa Rica for the first time from New York, and my mother Carmen Montoya to my right. The other people in the picture are relatives who I had not seen in many years!

-Elizandro Garcia-Montoya, Clarinetist, Project Costa Rica




Rebecca with Hal-monee and her sister

Rebecca with Hal-monee and her sister


Having the freedom to pursue music with the people I greatly admire is something I am very thankful for. Spending half the year on the road, I have many individuals and families to heartily thank for welcoming and hosting me in their homes, too many to name. I am increasingly thankful for the generosity of so many donors and volunteers whom without musical dreams would never see the light of day. I also am thankful for the relationship I shared with my Hal-monee (mother’s mother) – I miss her every day.

-Rebecca Jackson, Violinist & Co-Founder






Juan (right) and friends



I am thankful for what music and violin playing continue to offer me. This year brought me to: a different country (Costa Rica), closer to friends, to new friends and the joy of new experiences and repertoire.

-Juan Jaramillo, Violinist, Project Costa Rica








I’m thankful for the freedom to pursue music as an occupation & not starve to death!! It’s amazing to think that people actually pay me for it & I’m always grateful that I can situate myself to do it at the highest level I know how. I’m also appreciative of the generous friends & family I have in my life & how they inspire me to be exactly who I am. Happy holidays!!!

-Jae Young Cosmos Lee, Violinist, Project Haim





konstantinThis Holiday Season I’m grateful to see that despite the common talk of decline of the Arts more and more wonderful, inventive and super-talented groups are making their way in the world and bringing music, theater and visual arts to the far corners of the world. I’m grateful to be able to develop creatively and embark on new journeys of composing, arranging, producing different forms of music and performances. I’m grateful for love, for friends and family who so kindly and unconditionally support me. I’m grateful for fashion which allows me to play dress-up everyday and be of good cheer! Wishing you all a very merry christmas! xoxo

-Konstantin Soukhovetski, Pianist, Project Haim



Debu with his family

Debu with his family


This season I am thankful for several things. First, I am thankful that my music and musicality has touched a cross section of people around the world. It also opened up different genres to perform with. It brought up several opportunities to perform with some of the most beautiful artists around the world. This year more than any other years, I am glad that my brand of drumming brings joy to the hearts of many I got to know this season. Second, I am thankful to God for giving me this gift. I am eternally grateful for that. Third, I am thankful that my family has been a constant source of support for me and my music.

-Debu Nayak, Tabla, Project Chris4Life




Tiffany (bottom left) with team Project CR


This past year has been a huge adventure! Traveling to many new places, experiencing new cultures, reconnecting with old friends and making new ones…I’m so grateful that music continues to challenge me to grow and to evolve. I’m fortunate to have tremendous support from my family and friends, and I’m grateful this brings me health and strength. I’m grateful to perform with such fun loving people, and to have teammates who share my desire to experience the world and who join me in dreaming BIG!

-Tiffany Richardson, Violist, Co-Founder








I’m thankful for an amazing family, loving friends and a job that helps make the world a better place.

-Michael Sapienza, Project Chris4Life & Sound Impact Board Member








I am profoundly thankful for the exceptional people I had the fortune to meet this year and their outstanding and remarkably generous contribution in making my artistic project and dream come to life. My producer Nathanael Nicol, his wife Natalia and my photographer Billy Elkins. They donated their world class artistry and time to my vision. I feel they are my angels. I’m humbled by their generosity and filled with joy and gratitude. A special mention goes to my San Francisco friend Patti Niemi and her family. True gems that gave me solace in a very difficult time. Grazie a tutti!!

-Giuseppina Ciarla, Harpist, Project Sarasota








This is a picture of me and my rescue Wonder-hound, Justice at the National Arboretum in DC.  I’m so thankful for opportunities to escape the city, my caring friends and family, my health, and opportunities to collaborate in chamber music.  Wishing a peaceful and grace-filled Thanksgiving to all!

-Amy McCabe, Trumpet, Project Chris4Life

Reflections on Project Costa Rica

By Violist Tiffany Richardson

Embarking on our trip to Costa Rica knowing VERY little Spanish, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I was so excited to work with the students and perform with my amazing colleagues, but I just couldn’t imagine how communication would go. I have to admit, learning my very sweet host mom didn’t speak a word of English was a little scary at first. But over the course of the next three days, I was energized! Communicating through “sign language,” with a dictionary in hand, and through music, anything was possible. Even though my understanding of the Spanish language is minimal, I felt like I was truly able to connect with everyone, and became a part of the community.

Between our generous host families and the amazing students and teachers we met, we were received everywhere with such warmth. The passion the students possess is truly inspiring. I was awestruck by the stories of the students learning so much, but still having a lack of resources. Although SINEM is a government-funded program, we learned that there is still scarcity of music, instruments, and proper supplies. The students approach music with such passion that these issues were merely hurdles, which they faced fearlessly in their journey through music.

We all had the privilege of witnessing that SINEM creates a home, a community, and a family for the students and families, and we were so wonderfully welcomed to this community. Every program possessed a strong culture of support between fellow students. The older students mentor and teach the younger students, and you can see clearly that this helps the older students gain responsibility, leadership, and maturity. There’s a culture of encouragement and collaboration in SINEM, that should be present throughout the worldwide musical community. For me, this entire experience reaffirmed that we can all connect through music, and it is our responsibility as performers to contribute this to our communities.


Dare to Impact

by Danielle Cho

In October we had the honor of presenting at the 37th annual Fulbright conference in Washington DC.  We started off our session by playing the second movement from Kryzsztof Penderecki’s string trio.  If you don’t know it, you should listen to this beast of a piece. After we finished, we heard one lady in the audience exclaim, “What WAS that?!”  That is exactly the kind of response we wanted to hear! We wanted the audience to be a little offended and exposed to new sounds, which would eventually start getting people to think outside of the box.  The theme of the session was, “Dare to Impact”.  Isn’t that so perfect?  Because we are Sound Impact.

Sound Impact was formed a little over a year ago by myself, Rebecca Jackson and Tiffany Richardson with the common goal of inspiring communities and igniting change through the universal language of music.

A common question we get asked a lot is, “When did you start playing music?”  Well, I was five; Rebecca was three; Tiffany was seven.  From a very young age, we have spent countless hours in a practice room perfecting our technique and musicianship.  (Hopefully we reached Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour practice rule by the age of twenty.)  Playing music has taught us values such as dedication, discipline, perseverance and confidence.  Playing chamber music has taught us teamwork and communication.  Music has given us a community and a path to follow from a very young age.

We feel very lucky to be professional musicians that have performed in some of the biggest concert halls across the world.  But we reached a point where we began to feel restless and wanted to do more.  We wanted to use music in a bigger way, to go outside of the box, and push our boundaries.  How could we use music to serve a greater good, a greater purpose?

This is the premise of why we founded Sound Impact.  Whatever project we take on, we want to use music as a tool to empower people all across the world.

Many people ask if we are a string trio.  Well the answer is no.  Sound Impact is a collective of musicians, and therefore, each project brings aboard different collaborators.  We like to rotate the roster of musicians and instruments to diversify the sounds.  So far we have had some pretty awesome guest musicians from all over the world.

Many of you might have seen that we went to Costa Rica this past summer.  We embarked on a five city, ten day tour presenting masterclasses and concerts in SINEM schools all across the country.  SINEM is the national music education program which is government funded and open to all children.

In Costa Rica, we quickly learned there was a scarcity of music, instruments and resources but the students approach music with such eagerness and passion that these issues are merely small hurdles, which they face fearlessly.  We learned it wasn’t about us, but it was about giving back to these children the very things we had the privilege of learning as young kids.

This trip also showed us how through music we could develop ties of friendship and solidarity between different cultures.  This is something the Fulbright does so well.  The Fulbright program is the largest US exchange program and fosters cultural exchange and mutual understanding.  In 2006, I had the honor of receiving a Fulbright scholarship to study in Barcelona, Spain.  Without a doubt, this changed the trajectory of my life.  I wouldn’t be where I am today if it hadn’t been for the Fulbright experience.  It opened my eyes to a new perspective, to a new way of approaching the world and different cultures.

During the conference, we heard the powerful words of former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo – “I am free thanks to education.”  He spoke of the way that education freed him to pursue his dreams and become the man he is today.  Programs like the Fulbright allow hundreds of thousands of people the access and resources to make their dreams happen.

Similarly, Sound Impact wants to use music as a tool for empowerment in children across the world.  We can only hope to instill dreams and confidence for a brighter future.

As Senator Fulbright said, “The rapprochement of peoples is only possible when differences of culture and outlook are respected and appreciated rather than feared and condemned, when the common bond of human dignity is recognized as the essential bond for a peaceful world.”


Danielle with Mrs. Harriet Fulbright at the Ronald Reagan Trade Center

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Beyond the Limits

By Tiffany Richardson

Beyond the limits…there is no better way to describe Chris4Life. Chris4Life Colon Cancer Foundation was founded in 2010, by an incredible group of people including my good friend, Michael Sapienza. Michael and his family and friends joined forces in the wake of the loss of his mother, Christine Sapienza, to bring awareness to this disease. In less than five years, Chris4Life has risen to become the leading colorectal cancer advocacy group in the world.


Above: Tiffany Richardson and Michael Sapienza

I had the privilege of performing at the launch event, and being introduced to this group of people, and this cause. I was floored to hear that colon cancer was the second leading cause of cancer death, yet it was a topic people avoided. Feeling strong about spreading the word, and changing the future of this disease, I started volunteering, which later led me to be involved as a co-chair of the Young Professional Board and eventually I was honored to become a member of the Board of Directors.



Something I love about Chris4Life is that we’re always looking to push the envelope…have you seen the “Love Your Butt” ads plastered all over DC and even New York City’s Times Square???



Chris4Life really wanted to do something different at the Blue Hope Bash this year, and that’s where Sound Impact got involved. Chris4Life’s philosophy is that the arts are of the utmost importance in our world as they inspire, empower, and strengthen us during times of adversity, values Sound Impact holds highly as well.

We were thrilled that Chris4Life wanted to commission a piece based on the story of the organization, highlighting how the journey through this disease is a difficult one, yet through hope and perseverance and energetic efforts we can make a difference. And we were also thrilled that Michael Sapienza would join us on trumpet for the performance…did I mention he was a professional trumpet player pre-Chris4Life? We recruited Michael Caterisano, aka DJ Cutlet, who has an exciting multi-faceted career as a composer and percussionist to compose the commissioned piece. With a unique instrumentation of string quartet, two trumpets and tabla, joined by the powerful dancer Vincent Thomas, we were able to make this idea and story come to life.



Sound Impact was honored to perform the Chris4Life commission as a part of the BEYOND THE LIMITS Blue Hope Bash in October. It was an unforgettable experience to be a part of this amazing event that raised over $250,000 for the fight against colon cancer.


Left to right: Danielle Cho, Amy McCabe, Rebecca Jackson, Vincent Thomas, Michelle Kim, Tiffany Richardson, Debu Nayak

Project CR: Meet the Students!

In honor of “Arts in Education” week, we thought it would be great to hear from the amazing students we met in Costa Rica!

Here are some of our favorites words and photos from our visit…


What did you learn from Sound Impact’s visit?

“Magnificent. I am in love with your music. It is the most beautiful music I have heard in all my life. My biggest congratulations- extraordinary musicians.”

“Magnifico, estoy enamorada de su musica, es lo mas hermoso que he escuchado en toda mi vida. Mis mas grandes felicitaciones, musicos extraordinarios.”

-Student from SINEM Acosta


“That all people whatever their nationality can unite and do incredible things. I am amazed that these great examples of people exist.”

“Que todos las personas sin importer la nacionalidad se pueden unir y hacer cosas increibles.  Que las personas ejemplares existen.”

-Student from SINEM Acosta


“I learned many technical aspects of the bow and also how to improve my sound. I also learned the importance of posture and relaxation. I also really appreciate the humility of these musicians, their high level of musicianship and the fact that they have come to help us.”

“Aprendi muchas tecnicas de arco y para mejorar el sonido, tambien la importancia de la postura y relajacion. Tambien valere la humildad de ellos, que con su alto nivel, vienen a ayudar de forma muy amable.”

-Student from SINEM Liberia


“I learned that people who make a lot of effort can do great things.”

“Aprendi que las personas dando mucho esfuerzo pueden llegar a hacer graces cosas”

-Student from SINEM Acosta


“I learned to appreciate more the music we play. It also helped me a lot to obtain more security in my playing that I didn’t have before.”

“A valorar mas la musica y lo que tocamos, me ayudo bastante para obtener la seguridad que no tenia antes.”

-Student from Emusa Santo Domingo


What importance does music have for you and for humanity?

“Music can awaken in us feelings, new and indescribable. It is a form of expression for both composers and musicians. For humanity, it gives us a gift that has always existed and changes with time but also is preserved.”

“La musica puede despertar en nosotros sentimientos conocidos, nuevos e indescriptibles, es una forma de expression tanto para compositors como interpretes.  Para la humanidad les un regalo que siempre ha existido, y cambia con el tiempo pero tambien se conserva”

-Student from Emusa Santo Domingo


“It is like magic for me and it signifies friendship between all humans.”

“Es como magia para mi y significa amistad entre todas las personas.

-Student from SINEM Liberia


Why do you have interest to play and learn music?

“I love playing my instrument and in general music gives all people a different perspective of the world. Music fills and complements me.”

“Porque el instrument me gusta mucho y la musica en general lleva a las personas a ver el mundo desde otra perspectiva. La musica me llena y complementa.”

-Student from Emusa Santo Domingo


“I like it a lot, I feel good, and it transports me to other worlds. I can imagine wonderful things, it gives me much happiness and it helps me in all things that I do.”

“Porque me gusta mucho, me hace sentir bien, transportarme a otros mundos, imaginar cosas maravillosas, le da diversion y vida a todo, me ayuda en el resto de que haberes.”

-Student from Emusa Santo Domingo


“For me, music is my life. I can not explain it concretely but I love it and it makes me happy.”

“Para mi la musica es mi vida, no puedo dar un explicacion concreta pero amo lo que hago y me hace feliz”

-Student from SINEM Acosta


“Because music fills me.”

“Porque la musica me llena.”

-Student from SINEM Acosta



Project CR: Stories from Tour

After 9 months of planning and through the generous support of 100+ donors, Sound Impact’s 10 day non-stop, action packed tour has come to an end. Joining Danielle, Tiffany, and Rebecca were guest artists Juan Jaramillo and Costa Rican native Elizandro Garcia Montoya. In the coming weeks we will post extended entries by each musician but for now the following are short snippets – just a few of the many moments experienced on this unforgettable and richly rewarding trip.

Rebecca: We are so grateful to Elizandro and Juan for giving so much and embracing and demonstrating the mission of Sound Impact. Not only did they share their musical gifts but they also helped us communicate through LOTS O’ translation, carried gear, patiently waited when things got delayed, infused the atmosphere with fun through their sense of humor, and the list goes on. Even though we only came together as a quintet for the first time less than two weeks ago, we worked as a well-oiled machine, each of us looking after each other and stepping in to pick up the slack whenever needed. In almost every city including this one, the children were so eager to learn – Juan always offered to work even longer hours to give more time to the kids. Prior to our departure one of the youngest clarinet students reminded Elizandro he said he would play a solo for them. He kept his promise and we even delayed our departure so that he could fix her clarinet. Throughout the tour I had the pleasure of observing these and many more acts of kindness.

Tiffany: I was awestruck by the stories of the students learning so much, but still having a lack of resources. Although SINEM is a government-funded program, we learned that there is still scarcity of music, instruments, and proper supplies. The students approach music with such passion that these issues were merely hurdles, which they faced fearlessly in their journey through music. We all had the privilege of witnessing that SINEM creates a home, a community, and a family for the students and families, and we were so wonderfully welcomed to this community. Every program possessed a strong culture of support between fellow students. The older students mentor and teach the younger students, and you can see clearly that this helps the older students gain responsibility, leadership, and maturity. There’s a culture of encouragement and collaboration in SINEM, that should be present throughout the worldwide musical community. For me, this entire experience reaffirmed that we can all connect through music, and it is our responsibility as performers to contribute this to our communities.

Danielle: On arrival to this beautiful country, our first stop was San Ramon, Elizandro’s hometown. Irene and Brittany (my host mother and daughter) met me at the school, and wow! what an impression they made. The first thing Irene told me was, “Yo soy tu madre!” She was bounding with energy and excitement and ready to take me to town and show me the festivities of San Ramon. When we arrived at her home, she quickly made me something delicious to eat with coffee… she took me to a fabric store and had me pick out some fabric and made me a beautiful dress so that I could wear it to the beach the next day. I was blown away by the generosity and love this family showed me after only knowing me for a few short days. It reminded me of the experience I had when I first moved to Spain, not knowing the language or culture. Having the opportunity to meet really genuine and sweet people who open their homes to me is something very special.

Juan: It has been five years since I have been back to visit my home country of Venezuela where I started my musical studies through the internationally renowned “El Sistema” program… seeing the landscape, being temporarily adopted by families and eating homemade food every day was like being back in Venezuela… Costa Rica confirmed once again that I always have the power to change lives with my violin in one way or another. The best example has been the comment that one our students wrote on facebook: “…you have returned the inspiration I needed for the violin and life in general…” I think that in only 10 days we have reached so many people that took something from interacting with us not just musically, but culturally and personally. Regardless of whether or not they pursue music full time, I hope that the experience Sound Impact brought these students will be a memorable one, not just musically.

Elizandro: One of the primary objectives of this trip was to bring forth the importance of music to make a positive change in the world, as well as show how music can be instrumental in developing stronger ties of friendship and solidarity between people. I want to highlight the beautiful gesture of the young students at Sinem Liberia. They organized a farewell for us, and offered token of appreciation by performing Costa Rican folk music. Costa Rican folk music, called “simarrona”, is used for entertainment and to celebrate special occasions in Costa Rican culture. These and many more events made this trip unforgettable and it surpassed all expectations we had for this cultural exchange. We will forever be grateful for this experience. Viva Costa Rica!