One of the greatest renewable global resources is the spirit to give back. It is one of the hallmarks of ICAP, to connect with youth, the future artists and peacemakers who will soon take the lead on the world stage, through the transformative power of the arts.

It is in that spirit that ICAP member and jazz flautist, Nestor Torres, took part in providing mentoring to Guam’s high school artists participating in the “Action for Peace” talent contest on November 22 at the Agana Shopping Center.

During a week’s stay in Guam, Mr. Torres, a winner of the Latin Grammy Awards for his album This Side of Paradise, conducted the mentoring sessions at three Guam locations: the Agana Shopping Center, the Micronesia Mall, and The Episcopal Church of St John the Divine, a lovely site overlooking the bay.

During the pre-contest mentoring, Mr. Torres held a concentrated two-hour session with the maestro of the Tumon Bay Youth Orchestra (TBYO), which in turn enabled them to swiftly prepare for their performance of “Over the Rainbow” at the talent contest. This seemed to quickly elevate the musicianship of the young artists, who gave a lovely performance despite having no prior rehearsal.

On November 26, Mr. Torres returned to the 57-member TBYO for a most memorable coaching session. Founded in 2018 by Maximo Ronquillo, Jr., TBYO aims to offer orchestra experiences to young musicians, particularly in public high schools, who must pass an audition to be accepted.

Mr. Ronquillo, a Filipino American music educator, expressed gratitude for Mr. Torres’s impactful visit, emphasizing the significant and recognizable improvement in the students’ performance.

Reflecting on his own journey, Mr. Ronquillo said: “When I was in middle school, a youth orchestra was formed, inspiring my decision to become a music teacher. This year marks my twenty-second year of teaching.” Prior to his becoming an educator, there had only been two private high schools in Guam that had orchestras; the public high schools had none. Recognizing this serious gap in an important aspect of education, Mr. Ronquillo was highly motivated to establish a youth orchestra that could provide public high school students with experiences akin to his own.

Nestor Torres found inspiration in the possible cultural and educational exchange initiatives between Guam and Puerto Rico. He emphasized the potential for a deeper connection between the two territories, acknowledging the enthusiasm and willingness of Guam’s high school students to learn. “I was very impressed with the talent and potential of the young music students I had the privilege of working with, particularly a young brass instrumentalist by the name of Shangrong.”

Shangrong Jiang, a senior at Harvest Christian Academy, is a brass instrumentalist with the Tumon Bay Youth Orchestra, the Guam Territorial Band, the Guam Symphony Society, and the University of Guam Jazz Band. With the trumpet as his primary instrument, he is also proficient in all the other brass instruments as well as the piano.

He shared, “Engaging in the workshop with Nestor was both enjoyable and inspiring. George Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ is what initially introduced me to jazz, and observing Nestor’s live jazz performance was truly captivating. Nowadays, I frequently tune in to Nestor’s jazz tracks on Spotify.”

Shangrong Jiang intends to continue pursuing music in college and plans to broaden his musical scope at every opportunity. He will be heading to the States next year to start his freshmen year at a university.

Mr. Torres’s hectic schedule included several community events promoting cultural exchange, including the Hamon Loop Dental Thanksgiving luncheon, a Thanksgiving performance at the Guam Region Medical Center, collaborations with pianist Patrick Palomo at Tsubaki Towers and Saint John’s Church, as well as performances at the Tamuning Senior Citizen Center, and the Governor’s Office.

On behalf of Speaker Therese M. Terlaje and the members of the Guam Legislature, Mr. Torres was presented with a Certificate of Recognition on behalf of the people of Guam, lauding him for his musical artistry and expressing gratitude for his sharing his talents and passion for music with the island.