After people suffered through sickness, job loss, death and emotional turmoil this past year during the pandemic, Carnegie Hall recently held a virtual event with engaging, personal pieces by musicians.
The program, titled “In Response,” was a special free streaming presentation that aired April 28 that featured original music from songwriters who participate in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute education and social impact programs.
“In Response” had artists explore a variety of themes, including COVID-19, social justice issues and many of the everyday challenges people faced over the last year.
Among those who participated was Bronx resident Dan Nuñez, who performed “Empatia” (empathy).
“The reason why it’s called that is because we need more empathy in this world,” Nunez explained.
Nunez, 18, of Pelham Parkway, has always loved music, but his passion grew when he taught himself to play the drums in middle school. However, he wanted to learn more and delved into the art of music production.
Nunez told the Bronx Times that while a few of his cousins and uncles were musicians, the melody and notes just came to him.
“It’s just a natural thing,” he said. “It just kind of found me.”
In high school, he joined his school’s tight-knit band club and the concert band, playing drums and percussion. During that time he got his first drum kit from his band teacher, Mr. Oquendo.
According to Nunez, Oquendo had a big influence on him.
“He really helped pushed me to be the musician I am today,” he stressed. “When I was in band in high school he gave me such good motivation. He never failed to help me.”
In his sophomore year he joined Carnegie Hall’s Studio 57 and Future Music Project. Prior to the pandemic he and other artists would meet every Saturday at Carnegie Hall where they would learn from professionals, collaborate and work on their craft.
He recalled that stepping in Carnegie Hall felt like into a whole new world.
“I remember my first day I was so nervous,” he said.
But once he got used to his surroundings and musicians, he fell in love with the program. It allowed become a better musician and feel more confident.
“It really helped me learn how to create with people musically and communicate with others through music,” he explained. “I was dedicated going to Carnegie every Saturday.”
Shuttered home this past year due to the coronavirus, Nunez spent most of his time focused on music production. He acknowledged that it was a bit depressing, but it was his escape from the world.
“Music was probably the one thing I never got bored of,” he stated. “It is truly like therapy for me.”
Nunez, who plans to eventually go to college for music production and pursue a career in music, was hoping the “In Response” performance impacted people.
He realizes that opportunities to perform in Carnegie Hall are rare, so he has cherished it and knows it will help him in the long run.
“I’m super excited for what’s to come in my life,” he said. “I really do feel like I’m on the right path.”