Long Beach Poly grad to be featured violinist for youth symphony at Disney Concert Hall
LONG BEACH – With his Aurora, Jordan Busa feels like he can turn sounds into colors.
Before you get the wrong idea, Aurora is the name Busa has given his violin.
“I named my violin Aurora for the Northern Lights and because it creates an aurora of colorful sounds,” Busa said.
At 17, the recent Poly High graduate is painting musical landscapes that are getting him noticed in the classical music world.
Not bad for a kid who dreams of becoming a jet propulsion engineer.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that Busa, who plans to attend Long Beach City College in the fall and transfer to Chapman University, isn’t your typical incoming college freshman.
For all his interest in science and physics, it is his mastery of the violin that gets Busa noticed.
The music he draws from the instrument has led the 2012 Long Beach Poly grad to a position as the concert master of the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles.
On Sunday, Busa will be a featured performer as the orchestra closes its season with its first performance at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. He will perform “Meditation” from the opera “Thais” by Jules Massenet.
A piece that conductor Charles Dickerson describes as “tender and lush and emotive and sensitive,” the Massenet work seems particularly suited to Busa and his connection to Aurora.
“He has one of the finest tones on his instrument,” Dickerson said.
“I’m so glad it’s a piece I like and know,” Busa said of the meditation, which was written as an interlude between acts in Massenet’s opera and has become a popular concert piece. “I don’t like it when I’m forced to play something I don’t like. This piece I know and I can just let myself go loose with it.”
Busa’s mother, Karen, says her son has a special connection to the violin.
“It’s like an extension of his arms. When he plays you see the passion coming out of him,” she said.
Karen Busa said her son can disappear for hours playing the violin, the same way other teens play video games.
Busa has never known a life without music. His mom said when the family has gatherings, Busa’s older cousins are all expected to bring their instruments and perform.
The boy picked up the violin at age 5, and, Karen Busa said, “we didn’t tell him every 5-year-old doesn’t play.”
She said her family didn’t really appreciate that there was anything “special” about Busa for many years.
“I guess we just got spoiled hearing him all the time,” she said.
Soon though, she said friends began telling her that, no, not all kids can make the kinds of sounds Busa was able to create with the violin.
Busa received his first lessons from Bernard Jain, and they have been together ever since.
“He’s more of a best friend,” Busa said of the relationship now. “He’ll come over and I can talk about anything with him.”
That includes science.
In addition to music, Busa said, he “always had curiosity of how things worked.”
While this has led to a collection of dismantled appliances in the Busa household that were never quite reconstructed, it has also created a thirst for a kind of understanding far afield from music.
“My interest in science is greater than music,” Busa said.
Busa said Jain is a chemistry teacher, meaning he can explain both molecular and music theory.
What can’t be explained or taught is the connection of a boy and his music and the violin that speaks to his soul.
Busa said Aurora is his most prized possession ever, literally and figuratively.
His emotion is so tightly connected to the instrument that he wrote a kind of love poem to her.
The instrument is Austrian made and more than 100 years old. It was given to Busa by a charitable foundation led by a grade-school teacher of his, and he has been told it’s valued at about $10,000.
Dickerson, the founder, music director and conductor of the Inner City Youth Orchestra, said Busa joined his orchestra while performing with the Poly symphony orchestra under Andy Osman.
Busa remembers Dickerson visited Poly several years ago and asked the violinist to join his orchestra after sitting in on a rehearsal.
“Normally I don’t say yes, but there was something about him,” Busa said. “It turned out to be the best decision of my life.”
With the Inner City Youth Orchestra, Busa has been able to travel nationally to major events. He has played at an event at the unveiling of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C., the NAACP National Convention and a fundraiser honoring first lady Michelle Obama.
“It’s definitely an amazing opportunity,” Busa said of being with the youth orchestra. “The purpose of (the orchestra) is to give young people opportunities to do things they wouldn’t be able to otherwise.”
Busa has also played in much more intimate, but equally meaningful settings.
Busa played “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” at the funeral of his baseball-playing cousin Brian Beato, who died tragically after being hit by a car last month in Long Beach.
The not-for-profit Inner City Youth Orchestra, composed mostly of inner city black children aged 10 to 25 from Los Angeles County, will have about 85 instruments on stage for the Sunday performance.
As the concert master, Busa leads the string section, which numbers about 60, according to Dickerson.