Andrea Sanderson joins the SMC Orchestra as new Concertmaster

Andrea Sanderson is the newly appointed Concertmaster for the Santa Monica College orchestra. She is also the wife of SMC film professor Salvador Carrasco. She joined the orchestra this fall and rose to the challenge of becoming the new concert master, as Martine Verhoeven, stepped down to take a leave of absence. Sanderson began playing the violin at the age of five years old, and became passionate about music growing up in a household of five kids, who all played instruments.

Sanderson was musically inclined since childhood, but she didn't always know what exactly was her passion."With classical music, one finds that a lot of the time you start an instrument before you're really aware of all the choices out there," she explained.

She was inspired by her mother who wanted her children to have solid music backgrounds and education. At the age of fourteen, she became a student of Dorothy Delay of the Julliard School of New York.

Her violin studies began at the Royal College of Music in London. However, she went on to receive her B.M. from Julliard. She later served as a teaching fellow, which she specialized in music theory.

Before joining the orchestra, she worked as an adjunct at the Colburn School of the Performing Arts. She has also performed at famous venues such as Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Kennedy Center of the Performing Arts, and the Royal Albert Hall.

It was in New York that Sanderson met Carrasco and their relationship began.

After Julliard, she spent some time in Mexico with Carrasco working on his first feature film, The Other Conquest. She joined the project as music supervisor and produced the soundtrack featuring the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields and Pl√°cido Domingo.

After spending some time working on film projects and photography for years, it wasn't until her kids were growing up, and when a teacher made a suggestion, that she took up playing the violin once again. "It's very special playing a musical instrument because it's something that you will have for the rest of your life," said Sanderson.

She really enjoyed teaching her kids music and watching them grow as proficient artists. All three of her kids play instruments. Her son Sebastian is a college freshman at Bard and plays the violin, her eldest Juan-Salvador goes to Northwestern and plays the cello, and her youngest daughter Cassandra goes to Crossroads School and plays the piano.

Next concert, the orchestra is playing at Venice High School where Sanderson will get a chance to perform a double violin concerto with her son Sebastian.

She described the process of being invited to join the SMC Orchestra as a beautiful one. Her son Sebastian auditioned last spring for a solo in the orchestra, and this is when Sanderson began to acquaint herself with James Martin. Martin had a vision with who he wanted to replace the Martine Verhoeven chair, and she fit the bill.

Orchestra practices are on Tuesday evenings for three hours and Sanderson has adjusted quite well. "There's never a dull moment," she said as she described rehearsals as  intense but ultimately efficient and enjoyable. She also exclaimed that working with the SMC orchestra as being a totally different experience than any other orchestra she has worked with. She agreed with her husband, "There's no sense of entitlement here like there is at other schools."

As first chair and concertmaster, she oversees the string players. "I think that especially with string players that when you're playing the same music as everyone else and you feel somewhat hemmed in creatively," she said.

Sanderson has enjoyed working with other Jazz artists Keith Fiddmont (saxophonist) and Bill Cunliffe (pianist). She said her challenge has not been the classical side of her job, but working with different genres. For instance, the last concert was a Jazz recital. Leslie Drayton told her, "You have to relax a little and feel the swing rhythm a little more." Sanderson said that being versatile is a necessity. Jazz has added to her classical repertoire.

She also referenced being well versed in terms of cross-over. Artists such as Yo Yo Ma have played fiddle music, or his Silkroad project where he played with musicians from different cultures. Joshua Bell did an opera aria album where he played the violin. In her words, "One must be open-minded as a musician."

In other exciting news, Sanderson is looking forward to the orchestra's run of The Nutcracker, which will be in mid to late December. They will be performing with the Westside Ballet at the Broad Stage. She is ready for the challenge, they will be doing two performances a day, but she is just excited to be on board.