Shuffles is very proud to feature our student, Paloma Dineli Chesky on our blog this week. This April, 11-year old Paloma will be singing an original orchestral piece of music that she composed for the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center.
Paloma’s incredible moment comes after two years taking part in the New York Philharmonic’s Very Young Composer’s Program which is available to 4th and 5th graders in the New York City public school system. The program mentors young artists and teaches them musical composition and how to broaden their pieces to accommodate a full orchestra.
Last April, Paloma, now a 5th grader at the Professional Performing Arts School in New York City, performed as vocalist with the NY Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra on her composition “Peace in All Worlds”, created through the Philharmonic’s Musical Postcards Initiative, which allows students from different countries to share stories and musical ideas.
Seeing the wonderful potential and talent in their student, Paloma’s mentors in the Very Young Composer’s Program asked her to once again compose a piece for the full orchestra, and sing with them as well, which she will do at David Geffen Hall on April 4th-6th. Paloma told us how much she appreciates that her mentors in the program strive to respect each student’s vision for their piece by giving them creative control while also guiding them to understand how to incorporate the full orchestral selection of instruments.
Paloma explained that her new piece, “Rising”, is about “people going thru challenges and difficulties and having the power to overcome and come out of it stronger”. She said her mentors gave her great advice and guidance on expanding her original composition, initially written for just piano and voice, to include added emphasis on violins, as well as the rest of the ensemble.
Paloma has been a student at Shuffles since she was 4 years old and feels fortunate to live in the shadow of Lincoln Center, the backdrop to her neighborhood and her dreams. “I know so many people that have travelled from all over the world to study and perform in New York City…I feel so lucky that I get to live here and walk by there every day.”
Music is definitely at the heart of Paloma’s family life; her Brazilian-born mother, Patricia, is a dancer and guitarist, her brother sings, dances and plays the cello, and her father, David is a professional musician . When Paloma was just 9, he brought her up onstage at Jazz at Lincoln Center to sing and scat her way through a version of “Georgia on My Mind”.
Paloma is inspired by legendary performers such as Ella Fitzgerald and explained that she admires both her style and also her strength. “She was so strong…nothing stopped her, even though she couldn’t watch her friends sing in the clubs she was performing in because of the racism at the time…she still went up there and performed her best and never gave up.”
Paloma began studying piano at the age of five at Kaufman Music Center’s Lucy Moses School and said that as her piano playing has improved, her ability to write on a more complex level has also grown; she loves composing and now has hundreds of songs in her notebooks. “I’ve been writing songs for as long as I can remember”. She feels one of her greatest strengths is improvisation and the comfort she feels onstage, both evidenced at a school performance last year when her partner got a last minute case of stage fright and couldn’t go on. “I made up a new song on the spot and just sang it myself- it was fun!”
Tickets for Paloma’s show with the New York Philharmonic go on sale on March 1st! See you there!