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‘A really great story’

Richard Antoine White practices the tuba in a scene from "R.A.W. Tuba: From Sandtown to Symphony." (Darren Durlach/Early Light Media)

Richard Antoine White practices the tuba in a scene from “R.A.W. Tuba: From Sandtown to Symphony.” (Darren Durlach/Early Light Media)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

Darren Durlach and David Larson first met Richard Antoine White about nine months before starting the project on him.

The co-directors – once journalists – fell for White’s story and wanted to weave it into a documentary about art education in America.

White experienced poverty and homelessness on the streets of West Baltimore’s Sandtown neighborhood while living with his mother, who struggled with alcoholism.

He was eventually raised by his mother’s adoptive parents, Richard and Vivian McClain, who gave him his first instrument, a trumpet, in fourth grade.

In middle school, he switched from the trumpet to the baritone before deciding on the tuba and, in eighth grade, despite turning up a day late for the school’s annual auditions, he won admittance to the Baltimore School for the Arts, one of the top public arts high schools in the country.

 University of New Mexico associate professor Richard Antoine White was homeless before music turned his life around. (Darren Durlach/Early Light Media)

University of New Mexico associate professor Richard Antoine White was homeless before music turned his life around. (Darren Durlach/Early Light Media)

Since then, White has gone on to earn his Ph.D. He serves as principal tuba for the Santa Fe Symphony and New Mexico Philharmonic, and as an associate professor of tuba and euphonium at the University of New Mexico.

His story is told in the documentary “R.A.W. Tuba: From Sandtown to Symphony.”

The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and the Santa Fe Youth Symphony Association are presenting a free screening of the documentary via RawTubaSantaFe.com through Jan. 31.

The 29-minute film was produced by Early Light Media as part of its Invisible Thread series, which focuses on “people-driven stories” and “explores human connectivity.”

“The bottom line is that it’s a really great story,” Larson says. “Art in America is under-appreciated and under-funded. His story shows exactly how art and music can make a difference in someone’s life.”

In addition to the film, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and the Santa Fe Youth Symphony Association will present a free, live conversation with White at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 30.

Viewers can register to watch both the film and the conversation at RawTubaSantaFe.com. After they’ve registered, they will receive emails containing links to view both.

It is free to watch both the film and/or the conversation. Donations are, however, appreciated and encouraged. All donations will benefit the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and Santa Fe Youth Symphony Association’s music education and performance programs. The suggested donation is $25.

“This project, which includes presenting the film ‘R.A.W. Tuba’ and helping to share Dr. White’s story, is an outgrowth of the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival’s reason for providing exceptional opportunities in music for youth,” says Leanne DeVane, the Festival’s Director of Education and Outreach. “Training in music is more than a meaningful, rewarding avocation; it provides an academically rigorous pathway to a bright, successful, hopeful future – one in which possibilities are limitless and one in which kids, in their adult years, may, as empowered individuals, contribute to their community and their world.”

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