BIO: Alexa Burnston

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Aexa Rose Burnston” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text][alg_back_button][/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]My piano is a mahogany upright, gifted to me by my mother’s mother for my fourth birthday. I quickly discovered a knack for the musical arts, eagerly putting on shows for my family with the simple piano pieces I learned. Little did I know that my Grandmother’s mother, my Great-­-Grandmother Alice, who I am named for, was herself a gifted pianist throughout her life. My grandmother gave me this piano as a way to weave a thread connecting four generations of women, from oldest daughter to oldest daughter. Although I never had the opportunity to meet Great-­-Grandma Alice myself, I have heard countless stories about her musical endeavors. She earned a living as a piano teacher during a time when employment opportunities for women were limited, and I learned that her musical gift was both her profession and her passion. This love for music was passed down to me, her great-­-granddaughter. Although I never met my Great-­-Grandma Alice, I know we would have both shared a love for the traditional music that has guided both our lives. As a young girl, my mind raced with excitement each time I played Ode to Joy on the baby grand piano in my Great-­- Grandmother Lenore’s retirement home. My Great-­-Grandmother sang along, with me as her tiny accompanist. Her singing voice was as unforgettable as those classical pieces I played for her at each visit. I am fortunate to have known Great-­-Grandma Lenore for the first six years of my life. Her voice is as clear as ever in my memory, whether it is her teaching me Ma’oz ATzur when lighting the Hanukkah candles, or singing nursery rhymes I learned in preschool. She inspired me to become a passionate singer, even posthumously. My father has shared with me stories of her remarkable voice, rising in prayer in shul in Brooklyn, and lifting the Hatikvah to such heights during their trip to Israel that everyone around them stopped singing just to listen to her. The strong, clear vibrato of the voice that sang to me is now reflective of my own voice. I too, am a singer, with an unwavering passion for classical music and opera. Her musical gift is what I immediately think of when I consider any of my “musical genealogy.” For the past seven years, I have studied voice at my audition-­-only public middle school of the arts and then high school of the arts, learning the classical art of vocal performance. I can only thank Great-­-Grandma Lenore for the musical inspiration she bestowed upon me at the end of her life. Her voice could fill a room, and now as I study opera, singing Italian arias and German lied, I think of my own booming voice that can fill any room of its own. Along with voice and piano, in high school I added guitar to my musical repertoire. With these skills, I was elected to be regional song leader for the National Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY) Southern Tropical Region, leading a new generation of Jewish teens in song. The influence of my Great-­-Grandmothers, women with such prominence in my early childhood, has had a profound and continuous influence on my musical development for my entire life. As they were my link to my musical past, I hope to instill a love for music in my family’s future, and inspire a new generation of dedicated and passionate artists.

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