Homeless violist finds shelter at Eastman

A viola player who grew up with his mother and sisters in a Salvation Army refuge in Baltimore has won a major residency at the Eastman School of Music.

Jafrè Chase has won a full-tuition scholarship. He said: ‘I had the opportunity to leave Baltimore, leave Maryland, and I was good with that,” he says. “I auditioned at Eastman last February. I got out of the car in the parking lot across the street and looked at the building and was like, ‘Whoa, I’m at the Eastman School of Music.’ And when the teachers spoke of how they work with the students, it stuck with me. I really need that type of guidance.’


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  • Spend 4 or 6 years of training to end up back in the same Salvation Army refuge. Could have a LOT of well trained musician company there in Baltimore.

  • I had to go chasing this story because the above is inadequate.

    They were homeless for a few months, circumstances unknown. but this boy graduated from the Baltimore School for the Arts and had been studying viola most of his life, so somewhere the background was not quite as Dickensian as the above implies. He is indeed admirable, for his self-discipline and application in maintaining his grades and his practising through what must have been desperately hard times for him and his family.

    But he tried crowd-funding for preparation and trips to auditions, apparently successfully. He sounds like a talent we should keep an eye on, though I don’t know how much we ever hear about violists after their studies…Pinchas Zukerman, perhaps, who plays his when his pal Itzhak is around and they are jamming together (in concert). But let’s face it, Pinky is better known as a violinist.

    • Thanks. The story above interested me sufficiently to look around for more info, but I did not find this or I would have linked it myself. I like this fellow. I hope he is the violist who makes the difference to the absurd contempt in which the instrument seems to be held.

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