Meet Adrian, the New Maestro of Dudamel Orchestra!

Violin virtuoso Adrian Anantawan has never let excuses stand in the way of his art. Born without a right arm, Anantawan took up the violin at the age of 9 using an adaptive device, which allows him to control the bow with great sensitivity. At the age of 27, the young protégé of Pinchas Zuckerman and Itzhak Perlman has performed concertos with professional orchestras in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal, earning acclaim as a “rising star” of the classical world. But for Anantawan, the glory of the concert hall takes a second fiddle to what he sees as his highest purpose: bringing the joy of music performance to those who are too often cut off from it.

This fall, he will join forces with the El Sistema movement as a conductor of the Dudamel Orchestra at Conservatory Lab Charter School, a public elementary school providing free, intensive music instruction to children from Boston’s poorest neighborhoods. Each student at the school receives 2.5 hours of daily orchestral music instruction beginning in kindergarten, woven into their academic schedule. Music at Conservatory Lab is a vehicle for building a culture of excellence, social responsibility, and self-confidence, a philosophy that Anantawan has shared from the beginning.

“A lot of people don’t realize how valuable their voices are;” Anantawan explains, “for me, music saved my life. I want my students to have the same opportunity to grow, to explore through music.” He cites his early success with the violin as a turning point in his life, when he began to began to expect more from himself and from his studies. His mentor, Itzak Perlman, who sits down to play the violin after a childhood polio affliction weakened his legs, taught him that the key to overcoming any disability is to develop a concept of what you want, then figure out how to do it.

With degrees from the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music as well as the Harvard School of Education, Anantawan is part of a new breed of teaching artists, what Eric Booth describes as, “a practicing professional artist with the complementary skills, curiosities and sensibilities of an educator.” He joins a team of like-minded professional musicians who teach each of the orchestral instruments offered at Conservatory Lab.

He understands himself as a musician who has been “enabled” by great teachers who helped him realize his own innate artistry. Now he strives to provide the same opportunities to children and adults, whatever their obstacles might be.

Anantawan is in his element as he sorts through poems his students have created to describe the emotions in Sibelius’ Finlandia, a piece he will conduct with them this fall. He smiles as he remarks, “I feel like this is the perfect place to be right now.”

*More information about Adrian Anantawan can be found at