Young cellist to make encore appearance at Carnegie Hall

HARLINGEN — Alfredo Bonilla, round two.

The young student at the Dr. Abraham P. Cano Freshman Academy has grabbed the attention of Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall.

So impressive is Alfredo’s talent with the cello he’s been invited to perform early next month at the celebrated New York City venue for a second year in a row.

“I am really excited,” said Alfredo, 15. “I am the first student from Cano to make it.”

The young cellist said he’s looking forward to seeing friends he made last year when he performed with eight other eighth graders from Gutierrez Middle School.

They performed together in the Middle School Honors Performance Series last year. He made such an impression that Carnegie invited him back for an encore — this year to perform with the High School Honors Performance Series.

“They said, ‘This is what you have to do if you want to audition,’” he said. “They had my information.”

That was at the beginning of the school year. He met with his former orchestra instructors at Gutierrez, Victor Flores and Natalie Haugeberg. They helped him record his solo audition, a Bach minuet, and he learned in November he was first runner up.

Five days before Christmas, he learned his performance impressed judges so well he could perform Feb. 1–5 at the popular event with other players from throughout the U.S.

His mother, Monica Bonilla, is delighted by the opportunity, he said.

“She’s really excited, really proud,” he said.

Preparing the audition tape was enjoyable and challenging.

“It’s not that long of a song,” he said. “It’s quite beautiful. There are so many slurs.”


“Notes that are connected with one bold stroke,” he explained. “The shift keys were difficult. That means you have to move your finger positions.”

Success commanded more success. Once his audition was approved, Carnegie Hall sent him six pieces to play at the Performance Series, each with its own challenges. One demands he move between different clefs, or registers.

“I’m having to learn new notes,” he said unflinchingly. All in a day’s work for a musician of any age.

So why does he feel the judges accepted his audition?

“Because I had the energy and motivation,” he said. “I put energy into all the music.”

What is the Series?

The Honors Performance Series was established to feature talented young musicians on stage at one of the world’s most famous music halls: Carnegie Hall.

Selected performers come together in New York City for several days of rehearsals with renowned conductors leading up to their life-changing performance at Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage.

Though much of the performers’ time is focused on preparation with their conductor, networking with peers and experiencing the sights and performance arts of New York City are also important parts of the experience.