This season marks the 50th anniversary of the Audrey G. Baird Stars of Tomorrow competition and concert. We've caught up with some of our program alumni and will be sharing their stories throughout the season. We recently spoke with members of the Brusubardis family, who have been incredibly involved with our Stars of Tomorrow competition over the years, with 2 honorable mentions, 3 finalists and one competition winner among the siblings!
From Indra (mother of Viktor, 2014 finalist; Kristian, 2011 finalist; Ernest IV, 2009 honorable mention; Sonora, 2016 honorable mention; Daniella, 2017 finalist, and Arianna, 2016 winner):
Music continues to be central to our family life. We’ve always included our children in our own musical pursuits, so whatever group or project Ernie and I were part of, that’s the music that permeated our family life. We took our children to rehearsals and performances from very young ages. Their exposure included musical theater, choral, orchestral, ethnic music experiences. My husband wrote the music for a Christmas Carol production when our children were all young, and we all participated in these productions for about five years or so. Of course, the children were cast in different roles each year, as they grew. Family gatherings usually evolved into jam sessions or group sing-alongs. With my background in Music Therapy, we always had a wide array of rhythm instruments in our home. I even bought used bagpipes and autoharp, which weren’t as popular as my guitar. They all studied piano, but the Suzuki Strings method really seemed to fit our family’s style of experiencing and learning. We were blessed with wonderfully demanding Suzuki teachers, and the children excelled quickly. So, that is why all six children are string players. As the children became older, they performed with choral groups my husband conducted, when the works called for strings. The Stars of Tomorrow competitions were always taken very seriously in our household. They knew they had to audition at a very high level, for the judges to even consider awarding Honorable Mentions, or to proceed to the next rounds. Their motivation was always the same: to play the Stars of Tomorrow concert with their MSO mentors, where they would perform orchestral music at a very high level. A huge bonus for us all, was to see our youngest, Arianna, move on up in the 2016 competition, to become the winner of the SOT. This also meant she could play with the MSO and play a pre-MSO concert recital the following season, which she absolutely loved.
Arianna is now a High School Senior; Daniella, Sonora, and Viktor are all pursuing Music Performance degrees at UW-Milwaukee. Kristian earned his Music Performance degree from Indiana University. Our oldest, Ernest IV, earned his BFA and MM from UW-Milwaukee. Kristian and Ernest strive to play in as many local orchestras as possible and earn their living with music. As our family continues to grow, with a daughter-in-law and grandchildren, they participate as well, in our Latvian choir and in piano lesson with me—a real privilege for a grandma.
Because my husband and I are both musicians, we understand the powerful force of music, and have witnessed its impact on our family life. Music is this mysterious form of human expression and communication that can unite, transcend, heal, transform, and elevate mankind to something richer, something nobler, something purer than our earthly surroundings.
From Daniella (2017 finalist):
Music plays a very important role in my family mostly because almost everyone in it, extended family as well, is active in creating some form of art or music. I grew up with my siblings and me being surrounded by music which is why I feel it has a special place in my heart. Music was always something that everyone could relate with together. It was always a place you could go to when you were feeling down or when you felt overjoyed and wanted to share it with someone. There isn’t one person in my family that I could not go to if I wanted to be creative with music. Music runs so deeply through our blood that it’s honestly hard not to say that it is a part of us. Music practically lives and breaths in our family and I believe that it is something that will never leave us. It is what brings our family closer together. It is a great unifier between all of us including our relatives. It has the special power to bring people to a place of peace and give them hope.
Being a part of the Stars of Tomorrow competition has taught me so much about what it means to be a musician. As an Honorable Mention recipient, and semi-finalist, the most memorable aspect of the SOT competition was being awarded the opportunity to play side-by-side with the MSO musicians in the Stars of Tomorrow final concert. I was given the role of concertmaster in the years 2016 and 2017. Being in the orchestra and listening and watching them breathe together and practically be as one, was such an exhilarating moment in these concerts. You could feel the energy running through the orchestra and it was impossible not to feel extremely happy in getting to be apart of it. These moments will always be memorable to me and have already been very influential to my musical life.
From Viktor (2014 finalist):
Music has always been an essential part of our family. Family gatherings would feel awkward if it didn’t involve jamming in the garage or singing christmas carols in four-part harmony. Even now that my siblings and I are older we still try to find time to sight read music and perform together. Music has always been important to use both as individuals and as a family, and we continue to find new ways to enjoy it together.
Participating in the MSO Stars of Tomorrow Competition was one of the highlights of my highschool musical career. As Honorable Mentions and Semi Finalists we were given the opportunity to perform with musicians from the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra in side-by-side performances. These concerts were some of the most influential experiences in my decision to become a professional musician.
From Sonora (2016 winner) :
Music has been a part of our family ever since I can remember. Growing up, my siblings and I would listen to music while we studied and did our chores. We would listen to Classical, Jazz, and any new music that any of us might have just started listening to. During our family Christmas parties, no matter who is hosting it that year, there is always a time where we all gather together and sing christmas carols. My Grandpa or my dad will be playing the piano and maybe me and my siblings will play our string instruments while our uncle plays his drums, playing along with those singing the carols. Those are some of the memories I cherish from my childhood and I still enjoy making them today.
My favorite memory from the Stars of Tomorrow Competition is the final concert. The students were able to play with the MSO musicians and it was my first year competing. I was sitting in the orchestra because I had recieved Honorable Mention that year and we were playing the "Three Cornered Hat Suite" by De Falla. By playing with the professionals around me, I learned what it meant to play together as an orchestra, how to breathe and move together and how essential this all is in order to have a great performance. It is one of the most valuable things I have learned as a musician.