Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Paterson Youth Has Spot in LA Festival

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Paterson Youth Has Spot in LA Festival

Article excerpt

"It gives me an opportunity to forget about the sad times that I've had."

Hector Otero

PATERSON — Anyone who heard a woman screaming out the door of a home on Nagle Street earlier this month can stop worrying about her.

That was Maryluz Valerio reacting to the news that her 12-year-old son, Hector Otero, had been picked as one of 36 string musicians from around the country to participate in a 10-day music festival in California this summer, an event sponsored by the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra.

Valerio said she later explained the commotion to her neighborhoods, telling them she was just expressing her pride in her son's accomplishment.

"I am so happy for him," said Valerio, who came to the United States from the Dominican Republic in 2004. "He is such a good son."

Hector, a seventh-grader at Community Charter School of Paterson, was picked from among 350 applicants for his playing of the viola, according to his teacher. The youngster said he also plays the piano and this year began working on the cello and violin.

Hector started with the viola about four years ago, when he joined the Paterson Music Project initiative at his school.

"Music has helped me become quite successful," he said. "It's helped me in ways I don't even understand myself."

Shanna Lin, the director of education at the Paterson Music Project, described Hector as being "naturally talented." Lin said the youngster maximized his talent through hard work and commitment.

"He'll go home and practice for four hours," Lin said.

Hector admitted that he didn't think his chances were very good when he applied for one of the slots in the National Take a Stand Festival. "It's very competitive," he said.

But his classmates in the Paterson Music Project had more confidence in Hector's chances than he did.

"I knew he would get it," said sixth-grader Geanelly Vallecillo. "Sometimes, he believes in himself. Sometimes, he doesn't."

Hector has never been to California and is looking forward to seeing the giant "Hollywood" sign that has become an American icon. …

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