|In this section of the Graded Gazette, we celebrate extraordinary students and their outstanding accomplishments in academics, athletics, the arts, service work, and other extracurricular activities.|
Last month, the Graded community gathered around their screens while school WhatsApp chats went wild. It was the final evening of the 2022 Fritz Kreisler International Violin Competition in Vienna. In just moments, seventeen-year-old Graded senior Guido Sant'Anna would be awarded first place in one of the world's most esteemed violin competitions. Open to violinists aged 30 and under who are embarking upon their international careers, the competition helps catapult winners into the global spotlight.
All eyes had been on Guido since his arrival to Graded in 2015. The musical virtuoso had earned a coveted spot in the Graded Scholar Program, a prestigious scholarship for exceptionally gifted Brazilian students.
In capturing first place in the Fritz Kreisler International Violin Competition, Guido enchanted the audience with his moving rendition of J. Brahms’ "Concerto for Violin in D Major, op. 7," beating out 41 other violinists. As the first prize winner, he will receive a monetary prize; a recording contract with NAXO; an Asian tour; and numerous other concert engagements, including a debut with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.
Guido began playing the violin at the age of five, after his mother insisted that he take up an instrument. He didn’t have a violin teacher, so his classes consisted of instructional YouTube videos and tutelage from his older brothers. Nowadays, Guido studies with violinist Elisa Fukuda and practices four hours each day. He claims that, when performing, he goes “into a trance, as if the rest of the world doesn’t exist.”
Guido intends to pursue a career as a musician and is intensely devoted to his craft. “Music connects people,” he says, “regardless of their culture or personality. It’s such a powerful unifier. And it teaches you to really listen to others. You learn so much about people when you hear them play; so much more than you might glean from a conversation.” When Guido plays, he feels completely himself. “There is no way to explain who I am in words. I just can’t do it,” he says. “But who I am is expressed so clearly through my music.”
Music is a big part of Guido’s life, but he is not solely defined by it. He also loves dogs, video games, pizza, and ice cream (but definitely not frozen yogurt!) and is quite adept at ultimate frisbee. Though his favorite class is orchestra—during which, most recently, he has been learning to play the banjo—he is also very fond of physics and math.
According to his physics teacher, Kevin Healey, this makes perfect sense: “Physics and music go so well together. Many scientists are musicians, and vice versa. Guido is a strong physics student and is always curious about the subject matter.” Despite these other interests, it is obvious that his greatest passion is music.
In addition to his music, Guido is often asked about his hair. “It’s one of the things that makes me stand out on stage; it bounces around as I play,” he explains. But the attention paid to his hairstyle doesn’t bother Guido. “The audience loves my music and absolutely loves my hair. But it’s ok because they love my music first and my hair second.” He is also very emphatic that his distinctive hairstyle was not planned. “I had it cut, and it just grew back naturally like this. It styled itself.”
Orchestra Teacher Guilherme Faria works very closely with Guido. Mr. Faria often asks him to perform for the class, and relies on Guido to act as a role model. “Despite being the best student,” Mr. Faria claims, “he is also the most humble. Someone with his talent is born about once every century.”
Guido will graduate in May and is currently applying to music schools and conservatories in the US, Germany, and Austria. His ambitions are encouraged by Graded teachers, who are very supportive of his musical career and help him organize his academic schedule around demanding music commitments. The Graded community has also been encouraging. Guido exclaims, "The school community has shown incredible support throughout my time at Graded and especially during the Fritz Kreisler Competition.” Guido is already well on his way to an exceptional career as a violinist. As he embarks on the next phase of his life, Graded will be cheering him on every step of the way.