Raging Heart: Adrianna Mateo is Ready to Make Her Mark in the Music World
Growing up in Maspeth, Mateo remembers a day when she was around five years old and a piano mysteriously arrived at the house. It had been purchased by her grandmother, who at one time was on track to become a concert pianist but was dissuaded from pursuing the passion.
“She was the one that first got the piano to the house,” she recalls. “I think my grandmother noticed at a young age that I was always fixated with music, even if it was just Disney movies – I particularly remember The Little Mermaid being moving as a five year old – so she was the one that suggested my sister and I take music lessons.”
But Mateo’s initial foray in music at a young age didn’t necessarily foreshadow the uncompromising ambition she possesses today. “I think I took to the figuring out part of things, but I didn’t really take to the rigors of lessons at first; in fact I really disliked them,” Mateo said. “Not only did you have to sit in this room and be told you don’t know what you’re doing, but then you have to go home and work on it day after day and I found that pretty stifling at first.
Things started to change when she changed instruments. “I added violin and that was less of a problem for whatever reason. I think part of it was that I chose violin.”
But much like her grandmother, as Mateo’s passion for music began to deepen and she thought it might be something she would want to pursue as a career, she began to meet resistance from her own family. Many members of her extended family are successful in the medical field, and her own younger sister is currently in a Ph.D program.
“I think I knew I wanted to take violin to the next level when I was 12 or 13, and it was kind of hard because my parents, particularly my mom, really resisted it,” she said of her immigrant parents. “I think it has to do with the fact that they worked really hard to get to where they are here, and they didn’t want to see me have a hard time as a musician.”
But she also credits her family’s own successes with instilling in her a strong work ethic. “You get a respect for rigor and an appreciation for achievement,” the Townsend Harris grad and two-time Queens Teen Poet Laureate said. “I always need an inordinate amount of pressure to say ‘I’m going to do this,’ so the more that they fought the more I pursued it. I think they are as okay as they’re going to get. As with any kind of relationship, when you come to an impasse you either break through it or things stagnate. Thankfully, we kind of broke through it.”
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