Harlingen student plays New York’s Carnegie

HARLINGEN — Carnegie Hall.

The very name of the music venue in New York City invokes feelings of prestige, flawless talent and an unreachable goal.

But Matthew Garcia seems to have made it synonymous with his name. Garcia, a freshman at the Harlingen School for Health Professions, has performed at the respected institution the past two years.

Now he’s been accepted to the National Youth Orchestra 2, also known as NYO2. The training residency, presented by Carnegie Hall and its Weill Music Institute, will take place June 18 to July 4.

“It’s really an honor to be able to play with such high-caliber artists,” said Matthew, 15, a viola player who plans to pursue a career as a cardiothoracic surgeon.

That’s right. It turns out music is a passion he plans to continue while he studies and practices medicine.

“I think the heart is the center of everything in the body,” he said. “Being able to help something with that much power and make it better is a challenge.”

In the midst of saving lives, he hopes to play in a symphony on the side. He seems to have a pretty good start.

He began playing viola only three years ago, but for the past two summers he’s been a member of the International Youth Middle School Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. Last summer he was a featured soloist at Carnegie Hall.

He was quick to apply for the NYO2 program, an intense training and performance session involving musicians from the Philadelphia Orchestra and The Julliard School. He sent a recording of himself playing, plus an essay, and three recommendations as part of the application.

Even with his talent, he didn’t think he’d be accepted. He received the news earlier this month, however, he’d be playing this summer with about 80 musicians like himself from throughout the United States.

“I’m looking forward to how much I can learn from it and better myself as a musician,” said Matthew, who is currently number 1 in his class.

During the residency, he and his fellow musicians will perform in both Philadelphia and New York City.

He’s already looking forward to next year when he hopes to play with the National Youth Orchestra. NYO2, he says, is sort of a “little brother” to NYO.

His sophomore year will also include studies about surgery and medical terminology.