By Marivir R. Montebon
“Felizarta dashed off Mozart’s virtuosic music — from memory — with the poise and confidence of a professional. Felizarta’s beautiful and accomplished playing garnered a standing ovation from the thrilled audience.” – Nicholas Rich
After a rousing performance at the Pillow Pops Concert of the Philharmonia of Greensboro, in North Carolina, twelve-year old violinist Jayon Felizarta heads to Heltau, Romania on March 26-29,2015 to compete in the Erich Bergel & Dorothy Kitchen International Violin Competition.
He will likely be the youngest violinist to compete, as he was handpicked by one of the organizers for his ‘raw talent’ and not his age.
Jayon Christopher Abellana Felizarta was born in North Carolina to Filipino Cebuano parents who are both nurses, Mary Gayle Abellana and Jason Felizarta. He trained for violin since he was six years old under Robert Rempher and Dorothy Kitchen of the Duke University String School in Cary. Jayon studies in Davis Drive Middle School.
The boy whom experts confidently suggested to be clinically aborted because he had less number of chromosomes, was born on September 5, 2002. It turned out, he is a gifted child.
His mother Gayle refused to heed doctor’s advise, resolved that she would rather take care of her child despite the anticipated challenges. The experts said that the baby would not be able to talk or walk and may not even live for more than a year. Gayle and her husband Jason bit the bullet and delivered a baby boy who was premature but healthy. Their 7-pounder grew up well and with amazing talents.
In the words of a proud mom who introduced her son during a violin gala in October 2014, “Jayon…not only did he grow up, he thrived, against all odds, blessed by the love of God. He has been considered a gifted child. He plays the violin and piano. At age 10, he became the concert grand master of Duke University String School Intermediate Orchestra for their Spring concert season in 2013. At age 11, he became the concert grand master of Davis Drive Middle School Orchestra. He is also a member of the Triangle Youth Symphony. He is a gifted athlete in Taekwondo and gymnastics. He is now a Level 6 gymnast and competes at the state level. He is outstanding in academics and has a keen, near photographic memory, absorbing everything in his mind like a sponge. His immense field of interests include genetics, psychology, rocket science, math and chemistry. He loves to write, transforming his everyday observation into bursts of poetic language. He has been called by his Language Arts teacher, “My little poet”. He is blessed with so many gifts. I have reminded him, time and again, that our gifts and talents originated from God and are to be used for His greater honor and glory. Before every performance, I taught him to pray humbly before God.”
Such faithful upbringing has well seeped into the Abellana-Felizarta household. Jayon’s older sister, Mary Jae Abellana Felizarta, who studied ballet and Taekwondo with him, recently won first place in the state-wide gymnastics competition in North Carolina. Always a straight A student, MJ has a 4.5 GPA as a freshman.
At the Pillow Pops concert on March 8, Jayon joined the orchestra for the first movement of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3 in G through the baton of Peter Perret. His performance was astounding, gaining him a standing ovation.
Writer composer Nicholas Rich did a remarkable critique of Jayon’s performance on the CVNC, the online journal of arts of North Carolina. He writes, “Though having played for only five years, Felizarta dashed off Mozart’s virtuosic music — from memory — with the poise and confidence of a professional. Felizarta’s beautiful and accomplished playing garnered a standing ovation from the thrilled audience.”
The Philharmonia of Greensboro performs its Pillow Pops concert annually. It introduces children to classical music in a comfortable atmosphere. They are encouraged to wear pajamas and to sit on blankets spread across the floor as they watch the show in the gymnasium of the Lindley Recreation Center.
Pillow Pops organizers have successfully put together an appealing program, making sophisticated 18th and 19th century music acceptable to young children.
Interestingly, Jayon and his sister MJ begun to unleash their talents starting with Taekwondo for self-defense in April 2009. They experienced being bullied in the neighborhood, called names and almost got hit with a lunch box by one of the neighborhood kids. At one time, MJ was put in the trash can by other kids.
Their parents thought that they must be able to protect themselves. As soon as they both started lessons, the siblings both won 1st place in practically all the inter-school Taekwondo tournaments. Jayon was already able to protect himself with a Taekwondo chop when his arm was twisted in the bus by one of the boys at school.
With their prowess in Taekwondo, their parents decided to start them in other lessons – music, ballet, and gymnastics – which they all excelled as well.
Off to Europe
Jayon had been literally handpicked by one of the organizers of the Erich Bergel & Dorothy Kitchen International Violin Competition when he saw on Facebook Jayon’s rehearsal with the Triangle Philharmonia. (Mrs. Dorothy Kitchen founded her school at the Duke University in 1969 and still going strong with chamber music ensembles and three youth orchestras performing four times each year.)
His parents declined because he was still in middle school and the competition was for high school, to which the organizer said “talent is the main criteria for the competition.”
So next week, the boy genius, who wants to be a rocket scientist when he grows up, flies to Romania to compete. His aunt, lawyer Gina Abellana Crucio, simply describes Jayon as kind-hearted and humble. To his family, that’s the best part.
Related link: http://cvnc.org/article.cfm?articleId=7306