Our featured artist for today is late violinist Donnie Fernandez. Donnie began studying violin at the age of six. She won first prize for solo instrument at the National Music Competitions for Young Artists (Namcya). Donnie moved to the US in 1976, to attend the Julliard School's pre-college division. She completed her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the Julliard School, then took post-graduate training at Yale College of Music and at Mannes School. She won in the Bruch and Mendelssohn Violin Competitions held at Julliard School of Music in 1981 and 1982 respectively.
Donnie began her professional music career in Florida, where she was a violinist with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra. She also spent time at the Cleveland Institute of Music working on chamber and quartet music. In 1994, after setting in the Washington, DC area, she became a long-time member of the US Army String Orchestra.
Donnie was a featured soloist of several orchestras throughout her career, including the Manila Chamber Orchestra, the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra and the US Army Orchestra. She also appeared with the National Symphony Orchestra and the National Chamber Orchestra. She performed such greats as Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa, Sir Georg Solti and Leonard Slatkin. She participated in several music festivals including Tanglewood and the Blossom Music Festival. Donnie's concert appearances included recitals at Merkin Hall, Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall and the Kennedy Center, among others.
Donnie lost her battle with cancer in 2011. She was posthumously awarded the meritorious service medal recognized for "her meticulous attention to detail as violin consultant for the United States Army Young Artists Competitions and as the Army Strings Education Outreach Liaison."
As a tribute to Donnie, the Donnie Fernandez-Belleza Memorial Fund was established. The scholarship fund will help support young promising musicians to enroll in the musical trainings in summer programs. It will also sponsor talented young musicians earn a degree in Bachelor of Music in highly recognized institutions such as the University of the Philippines College of Music. The very first recipient of the memorial fund was Deomedes Saraza, Jr., violinist.
Donnie Fernandez is truly an inspiring Filipino artist.
For more information about the Donnie Fernandez-Belleza Memorial Fund, visit www.donniememorialfund.org.