SAN DIEGO — For centuries, classical music excluded a large portion of the world's population. In this Zevely Zone, I visited Roosevelt International Middle School where students received a lesson for everyone.
Xavier Foley is a dynamic young musician and composer and the winner of a 2018 Avery Fisher Career Grant, a Paiko Foundation Fellowship.
Raised in Georgia, Xavier thought he had two choices in life; either play football or become a rapper. "It was definitely not a thing for me to play classical music back then," said Xavier.
At 11 years old, Xavier dropped all those stereotypes and picked up a double bass. At age 27, Xavier is now a professional award-winning virtuoso who not only plays the music, but feels it too. "A lot of people say that yeah," said Xavier. "Music makes me feel a certain way and I try to communicate feelings to the audience."
For 53 years, the La Jolla Music Society has brought the best of music to San Diego. "I'm so excited," said Allison Boles. She is in charge of the non-profit organization's education and community programming. Allison says Xavier was invited to San Diego to share his music and message. "Music is for everyone. You can find what you are passionate about, you can use it as a way to express your feelings," said Allison.
Xavier performed at Roosevelt International Middle School, where he hopes instead of the next generation being divided, they feel invited. "I thought it was amazing," said student Oslo Trevino. He and music classmates Paxton Willoughby and Sofia Buby play the double bass at the same age Xavier started.
I asked them what they thought about someone breaking down societal barriers. "Good for them because it's their life and that is really what life is; you get to choose what you do with it," said Sofia. Her classmate, Paxton then added, "You can choose whatever you want to do, it's not like just because someone says you have to, or you should do this, doesn't mean you have to accept that."
It was music to the ears of music teacher Nathan Elias-Kocivar. "100% yes. We all have an internal rhythm. We learn things in different ways and different rates. We all have the ability to play music," said Nathan.
"Don't worry about it that is what I say," said Xavier. That is exactly why he chose an instrument that can play anything by anybody. "I just liked how it could be used to play jazz, classical, and rock and anything in-between," said Xavier. Although he can play Mozart from memory, just like the script he flipped, the composer chose to play a song he wrote himself. "Make sure you sing on your instrument; that is what it's about," said Xavier.
Xavier won First Prizes at Astral's 2014 National Auditions, Sphinx's 2014 Competition, and the 2011 International Society of Bassists Competition. He is known for communicating his virtuosity and passion for music on the double bass, which is rarely presented as a solo instrument.
As a La Jolla Music Society Discovery Artist, Xavier visited San Diego for a variety of outreach and education events. He demonstrated playing the double bass and talked with students about how he discovered music and pursued it as a professional artist.