When Music and Cultural Heritage Combine, You Get INTEMPO

In a sun-filled church in Stamford, Connecticut, a small group of young students sit with their musical instruments. Among them are many instruments you'd expect to see in a classroom—like violins and guitars—and also several that you may have never seen before, like the South American Charango and a Caribbean steel drum. That would give you your first hint that you're not looking at a standard music class. This is an INTEMPO class.


INTEMPO is a Stamford, CT-based non-profit arts organization that teaches students in a few nearby towns not only musicianship, but also multicultural awareness and pride in their diverse backgrounds. Part of that is accomplished by including native instruments like the Charango and the steel drum.

Founded in 2011 by violinist and educator Angelica Durrell, INTEMPO envisions a new word of musical opportunity and engagement among people of all ages. In this new world, the audience at a performance can see themselves reflected in the musicians and hear their heritage celebrated in the songs being performed.

"Cultural identity creates a sense of security and empowerment. So we really focus on that with our kids, parents, and partners," says Angelica, talking about INTEMPO.

She hopes that INTEMPO will help make classical music of all kinds relevant to a variety of communities. The organization brings together students from 30 different schools in Norwalk CT, Stamford CT, and Port Chester NY, who can participate in lessons centered on instruments or even in INTEMPO's multi-language choir.

"I'm a violinist by training.. but had it never been for the moment that I identified there was a huge gap missing in my community and that I could do so much more for these kids and families... this would have never happened," Angelica recalls of when she made the switch from musician to educator and organizer.

Angelica attended Norwalk High School in Norwalk, graduating in 2007. She participated in orchestra, the Norwalk Youth Symphony, and the Chamber Music Institute for Young Musicians in Stamford, where she has been a faculty member for the last four summers. And music runs in her family:

"I am a sixth-generation musician from Ecuador on my mom's side, and a fourth-generation musician on my adoptive father's side."

Through the music scene in Norwalk, and specifically the Youth Symphony, Angelica met Dr. Lisa Pento, a long-serving member of the Youth Symphony's Board of Directors who was for 3 years the Chairwoman of the Board. Lisa spearheaded a number of initiatives during her tenure at NYS, including rebranding of the organization, altruistic campaigns, and international tours. Given their overlapping interests, it's no wonder that Angelica and Lisa decided to work together. The two formed a partnership between the NYS and INTEMPO, and Lisa joined INTEMPO's Board of Directors in 2012.

Since its founding, INTEMPO has expanded far beyond its initial partnerships. It reaches more than 120 students today, and comprises 5 different programming areas:

• Native Instrument Academy
• Annual Gala and Fundraiser Concert
• International Women's Day Concert
• INTEMPO Ensemble
• International Composition Partnership

Through these 5 offerings, INTEMPO is changing the landscape of music and boosting confidence in the kids and families involved!

If you'd like to learn more about INTEMPO, visit their website.

This HooplaHa original video was produced by Dani Guitelman, shot by Johnny Perez, and edited by Matt Binetti. To see more inspiring videos, follow us on Facebook and sign up for our Only Good News Newsletter.

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