SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Blues Society's latest Sam Baird scholarship winners are from Claudia Taylor 'Lady Bird' Johnson High School. Isabella Perez and Jake Troop Valdivia are graduating seniors who said the scholarship money is appreciated.
"I really appreciated the opportunity to really show what I've been doing and be appreciated and like, celebrated, like giving me some financial help that can help out in my future endeavors," Valdivia said.
The flute player said his first instrument was a guitar. In middle school, a music teacher's call for musicians led him down a list of possibilities, including the flute.
"I didn't do so well on trumpet or sax, and my rhythm was kind off also percussion wasn't either," he said.
The 17-year-old said after that, his proficiency in the instrument started to grow.
"I really think the flute as a very versatile instrument, very delicate, but yet also very powerful and strong when done correctly," Valdivia said.
Perez said she had more of an instrumental journey to finding the bassoon.
"I've actually played a lot of different instruments until I got to the bassoon," she said. "I went from piano to violin to the oboe."
Around middle school, she took to the bassoon and won't let go. It's become more than an instrument.
"I really like blossomed with my musicality," Perez said. "It really like gave me a voice---not just, you know, like a talking voice, but like a singing voice."
The 17-year-old award-winning bassoonist is a self-described introvert who believes music became the bridge to her expression.
"Like, I feel like I can tell stories not just with my voice, but with music," she said. "I want to be able to convey like anger, sadness, love, romance."
When KENS 5 caught up with the graduating seniors, they worked hard with other band members trying to flesh out French composer Emmanuel Chabrier's opera 'Gwendoline.'
Their submission to the San Antonio Blues Society came from the classical repertoire. They didn't play the blues at all.
"I was a little scared that because I didn't play blues, that maybe they wouldn't look at my application or care," Perez said.
Valdivia said he was more concerned about getting his submission on CD than he was about his musical choice.
"Even if I didn't get the scholarship," he said. "I'm still proud of the process."
The judges from the San Antonio Blues Society didn't seem to mind. Of Perez, they wrote on their website:
"Isabella produced a beautiful piece on the bassoon, and her essays repeated her desire to one day be a musician in a renowned symphony. Pure and simple."
Valdivia's challenges with his CD paid off too. Here's what the judges wrote about him:
"Jake excelled on his performance piece with music for the flute. Jake's love for music not only includes performing but also sound engineering."
According to Valdivia, the scholarships are $1,000, and the money will come in handy when he goes to college for mechanical engineering. But he said his music would remain an interest.
Perez said she is going to the University of Texas-Austin, where music education would be her major. She'll use the scholarship money to supplement her with music festivals and summer intensives.
"I think my parents were a little worried because they were like, Oh, well, we don't know if music, you know, can bring money," she said. "But I was like, no, I can do it."
Director of Band Jarrett Lipman said this was the first year he had students apply for the scholarship.
"We think it's pretty special," Lipman said.