Gettin' to Know CYO: Meet Alex Figueroa!

Senior Alex Figueroa loves Chicago, would happily be a Jedi and nearly played the violin. Check out the principal violist's interview and playlist, which includes Styx, Bowie, Green Day and more!



If you were to play a wind instrument, what would you choose?
I would have to say contrabassoon because it is so low. Whenever someone in an orchestra plays a note on the contrabassoon, I'm pretty sure it registers a small earthquake.

What drew you to viola?
When I was trying out instruments in 5th grade, I was actually drawn to the violin (which is very sad to admit), but then as I was trying the violin, the teacher noticed I was already on a full size violin in 5th grade to which she responded, "You're too tall for violin. Try viola." I'm very happy that she ended up giving me that advice because I fell in love with the sound of the viola. Plus, a violin looks like a toy when I hold it.

If you had a time machine, where would you go?
If I had a time machine, I would probably go 50 years into the future to 2066. I'm always looking ahead in life, and while the 1790s in Germany and Austria seem pretty cool, they didn't have plumbing, and I don't think I'd be able to pull off a powdered wig. But the future would be exciting and eventful. I would be able to see where we've gone as a society and how all the conflicts of today affected the future, especially in the Middle East and even in our own country. Plus hopefully Donald Trump would be irrelevant by that point. Although with all of those positives, it could be scary if there were some type of robot takeover.

What is one of your favorite childhood memories?
I would say one of my best childhood memories was the first time I went to Chicago. I was about 9 years old. While I was there, I was able to see Yo Yo Ma perform live with the Chicago Symphony which was one of the main events that got me thinking about playing a string instrument. On top of that, I loved the life in a big city which still holds true today. It was all around a great experience. Plus, Chicago pizza is superb.

Why would you tell someone to audition for CYO?
Auditioning for CYO has probably been one of the best decisions I've made. It's an amazingly talented group, and everyone comes to rehearsal ready to learn which is awesome. On top of that, we have played some pretty awesome gigs. What other high school group is there that can say that they have played with Graham Nash, Cleveland Pops, Styx, and more? Then probably the aspect of CYO that I love the most is the environment. Everyone is positive, respectful, kind, and really fun. It makes the time put into rehearsal very enjoyable, and it has helped me build teamwork skills. Every musician should audition for CYO.

What is the best piece of advice you've received?
My mom has always told me that as long as you work hard and treat people nicely, things will always work out no matter what.

If you could live in a book, TV show or movie, what would it be?
This is really nerdy, but I would want to be a Jedi in Star Wars. Wouldn't everyone? The concept of using the force to move objects, save the galaxy, and wield a lightsaber on a daily basis is really cool.

When you were a little kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Until I was about 12 years old, I wanted to be an astronaut. Then I wanted to be a broadcast journalist reporting for ESPN. When I was a freshman, I decided I wanted to be a music teacher, and I am now going to major in Music Education when I go to college.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
In 5 years I hope to be an orchestra director at the high school level. That would be a dream job for me.

Check out Alex's playlist, which includes Styx, Shostakovich & everyone in between: