When asked to share her “wildest dream,” 14-year-old Denver violist Gianella Falcon Escobedo said, “I want to play with the symphony when I’m big.”
Doctors diagnosed Escobedo with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in May 2010. Despite setbacks from the disease, Escobedo held on to her aspirations of becoming a professional musician.
Through Make-A-Wish Colorado, a foundation that grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions, Escobedo’s dreams to perform alongside the professional musicians of the Colorado Symphony will come true Friday night.
The young violist will join the orchestra during the first half of the “Cirque Musica” concert at Boettcher Concert Hall -- she’ll watch the remainder of the performance as an audience member with her family.
Colorado Symphony violist Mary Cowell helped Escobedo, who has been playing the bowed string instrument for three years, prepare for Friday night’s concert. They had only two lessons together. But Cowell says Escobedo was eager to learn the challenging compositions and push her musical capabilities.
Escobedo was particularly excited to learn “Flight of the Bumblebee,” by Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.
“She lit up when we listened to recordings of it,” Cowell said.
Cowell adds that she hopes to continue her lessons with Escobedo beyond Friday’s concert.
Escobedo is now in remission and visits her doctor routinely to ensure her cancer hasn’t returned.
Her family says she is both excited and nervous for her debut at Boettcher Hall. The Colorado Symphony musicians share Escobedo’s enthusiasm.
“It’s exciting for the rest of us on stage to be able to have this experience with her,” Cowell says.