Longy started SeptemberFest a few years ago; it’s a big musical celebration and concludes with this concert by the Longy Conservatory Orchestra. Even though I graduated with my master’s in 2013, I was invited to participate with the orchestra.
I should be OK for the concert, but a few weeks ago I broke my collarbone. It’s a difficult thing to deal with, but for now I’m focusing my energy on teaching in El Sistema programs in the city: Revolution of Hope in Roxbury and Josiah Quincy School Orchestra Program in Chinatown.
Longy also has a class — Side by Side — that’s performance and teaching in an interactive way. Gustavo Dudamel, the principal conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic who’s a product of El Sistema in Venezuela — and the proof of what it can do — conducted the final concert of the series. It was such an unbelievable experience, being conducted by the world’s leading conductor.
I didn’t start playing cello till I was 20. Eight or 9 is a normal age. Sadly, the city where I grew up in Colombia isn’t very developed culturally. I was part of Batuta, which is inspired by El Sistema. After El Sistema, Batuta is the second biggest music-teaching program as a way of social change in the world. Colombia has a difficult situation with violence and the war against drugs. Batuta helps keep kids out of these bad situations.
I try to balance teaching and performing. I recently did a project with a friend, Simone Trollmo, performing a program entirely of Bach around the streets of Boston. We had signs that spoke about the pieces, so people listened and learned about the piece of music. I didn’t have opportunities when I was growing up. I found it to be an injustice — everyone should have access to music.
HEAR HIM As part of SeptemberFest, Gomez will perform with the Longy Conservatory Orchestra in Cambridge on Saturday. Tickets (free) required. 617-876-0956 ext. 1771; longy.edu
Interview has been edited and condensed.