Kamau Rodriguez-Pegg is a talented musician. He’s been making music since he was in kindergarten, and first joined GTCYS two and a half years ago. A current violinist in Concertino East, Kamau is also the recipient of a Roderick Cox Music Initiative (RCMI) scholarship. He shares what GTCYS means to him, and the impact the RCMI has had on his musical life.
“I was motivated to audition for GTCYS when my violin teacher at Walker West Music Academy told me about it,” Kamau says. “It sounded cool because it was an orchestra and I really liked playing in my school’s orchestra.” Now, Kamau looks forward to GTCYS rehearsals every week. Rehearsals are his chance to make music with other students and learn more about orchestral playing. “I like the music that is given to us, and the conductors are truly amazing. GTCYS has definitely helped me grow as a musician because I have been able to rehearse in an orchestra which is much different than not doing it in a group. GTCYS teaches me new things about music each time I go to rehearsal.”
But rehearsals are about more than the music, especially during COVID-19. For many students, GTCYS is their one time to see other students. Kamau says that he’s developed skills beyond musical technique through GTCYS. “GTCYS has really helped me work in a group which is something I used to struggle with,” Kamau says. “I also like music because it allows me to meet other amazing people. I have been able to make some friends and meet some amazing mentors.”
Kamau is taking his music to the next level as a recipient of a Roderick Cox Music Initiative scholarship. Founded two years ago by esteemed conductor Roderick Cox, the RCMI does incredible work within the Twin Cities to support young musicians of color pursuing music. Kamau describes the history of the RCMI scholarship. “Roderick Cox is a black man who was raised in Macon, Georgia. He worked with the Minnesota Orchestra and is now a world class musician who lives in Germany. He wanted to give back to the community, and more specifically underrepresented communities.”
“I first heard about the RCMI last year when other students received the scholarship for themselves, and I first started working on my application when my music teacher told me to write what impact music has had on me,” Kamau says. Recipients of the scholarship can put the funds towards summer camps, instrument repairs, music training, and private lessons. They also receive mentorship from Roderick Cox and other local professional musicians. Through his work, Roderick Cox is inspiring the next generation of diverse students in the classical music world – and Kamau is one of them. “The RCMI has most definitely inspired me to take my music studies more seriously,” Kamau says. “It makes me feel like I do have a potential future in music.”