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March 07, 2016


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An die Musik

March 07, 2016

By Wells Fargo Point Scholar Gabriel Maffuz-Anker


I can honestly say that music saved my life.

I’ve been trying to get a good sound out of the violin since I was in diapers, and while that has not changed, many things have, including my undergarments.

My parents divorced in 2003, and, soon after, both my father and I came out of the closet. I managed to further disappoint my mother by abandoning childhood promises to study psychiatry and, instead, becoming... a music-major.

Private lessons, youth orchestra, chamber music, classical radio, and YouTube recordings of Milstein have kept me away from reality for as long as I can remember. Being tossed around every weekend for the latter part of my childhood as part of some tragic game of ‘catch’ at the whim of a joint-custody agreement, I found solace in a funny-looking wooden box with four strings and an expensive stick.

I enrolled in college thinking that I was here to get the most bang for my tuition grant’s buck, and that, if I was going to major in violin performance, I was also going to major in something that sounded important. I was going to have a response to the “back-up plan” question I’m still guaranteed to hear at any family gathering or dentist appointment. My 20-year-old insecurities signed me up for 20 credit-hours too many.

I started writing this post about how spending hours in a practice room, or in rehearsals, or in private lessons has “shaped my identity.” But hearing the Brahms violin concerto through the speakers of my questionably dented 2003 Toyota Matrix, on the way to the grocery store at midnight, I realized, “Music is not about me.”

It’s about beauty and how we spend our whole lives seeking it. It’s about how I almost ran a red light because of that common-tone-diminished-seventh-chord, courtesy of the oboe, that I hadn’t noticed before.

I have found purpose in my life: to make music and die trying. There was a reason my great-grandparents left behind their Ashkenazic name but not their fiddles on their way to America.

Brahms_Violin_concerto_beginning The sheet music to the beginning of Brahms violin concerto

Sometimes, when things are uphill, I look back on meeting my fellow Point Scholars, each passionate and driven, each an artist in their own right. In a world where frustrations and dashed hopes often outnumber successes, having Point, an organization that believes that youth like me have purpose, that youth like me are worth hearing, investing in, and celebrating—it keeps me going. No, it keeps me thriving. For me, music is a discipline as much as it is a support system, and the same goes for this incredible organization.

I’m lucky enough to stare beauty in the face daily and to spend every breath with the intent of understanding or reflecting it. The “self” matters less to me each time I hear the Bartok string quartets or my roommate hammering a passage from Rachmaninov’s second piano concerto at half-tempo for the millionth time. To my captive audiences, past, present, hopefully future, and, especially, the Point Foundation, thank you for listening.

And to everyone else, do yourself a favor and play something.

This post was written by Wells Fargo Point Scholar Gabriel Maffuz-Anker


Gabriel Maffuz-Anker is originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico. He attends Rice University in Houston and is studying violin performance and linguistics. An alumnus of Houstons High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, he is not only an avid orchestral and chamber musician, but also a zealous proponent of LGBTQ issues and music education. Gabriel's experiences with bullying during middle-school encouraged him to become involved in building affirming learning environments for queer students.

Read more about Gabriel.


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