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Aki Santibanez

2024 Violin D

Aki Santibañez, began playing the violin when she was three years old. During the last eight years, she was a member of all six Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras (CYSO) where she was concertmaster and principal several times. She has received several honorable mention recognitions at the Sejong Music Competition and the DePaul University Concerto Festival. She has been invited to participate in the Sphinx Performance Academy summer camps for the last 5 years where she has performed chamber music recitals and master classes and was selected to participate in this year’s Chicago Youth in Music Festival Orchestra where she will perform with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago under Maestro Giancarlo Guerrero.

Aki is on her third year at the Alice S. Pfaelzer Conservatory at Merit School of Music where she has been concertmaster of the Merit Philharmonic and participated in rehearsals with professional conductors like Enrique Mazzola from the Lyric Opera of Chicago and Nicolas Kraemer from Music of the Baroque. She was this year’s winner of Merit School of Music’s concerto competition and will perform as soloist in Merit Philharmonic’s fall concert. She is a member of Merit’s Spizella competitive chamber quartet and regularly performs in chamber music competitions and recitals in the Chicago area.

As a fellow in the Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative (CMPI), Aki had the opportunity to perform for Hilary Hahn’s masterclass in December 2023 and was also invited to be part of the National Pathways Festival Orchestra in Nashville in April 2024 where she performed with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra members under the direction of Maestro Giancarlo Guerrero.

Aki is a freshman at Whitney M. Young high school in Chicago where she is a member of the Asian club and performs in dance shows for the school community as well as for other Chicago area schools with the goal of bringing knowledge and representation of the Asian culture. During her free time, Aki likes to bake and cook new recipes. Her recent violin instructors include Miki Yuasa and Desiree Ruhstrat.