Cadenza: music for charity

Junior Bivan Shrestha speaks on his connection to music and his charity music club, Cadenza.

The+members+of+Cadenza+pose+for+their+club+photo.

Used with permission from Bivan Shrestha

The members of Cadenza pose for their club photo.

The West High music department definitely adheres to the motto “where excellence is a tradition.” With the numerous chambers and bands, there is no shortage of amazing musical talent. Junior Bivan Shrestha is one of West’s talented musicians. 

He was first introduced to music by his fellow students. “I saw all the upperclassmen playing and I was like ‘oh my god, they’re so good. I want to be just like them.’” Shrestha said. 

He had begun playing instruments in elementary school, beginning with piano in the first grade and violin in the fourth. Needless to say, it was not the most interesting thing in the world. 

I didn’t really practice that much so I kind of sucked. But once I saw the things my peers were doing and the things that they were capable of, it really made me think ‘whoa if they can do that, I also want to do that.’ So that’s one of the things that pushed me to practice music.”

— Bivan Shrestha '22

“I didn’t really practice that much so I kind of sucked. But once I saw the things my peers were doing and the things that they were capable of, it really made me think ‘whoa if they can do that, I also want to do that.’ So that’s one of the things that pushed me to practice music,” Shrestha reflected. 

Shrestha ended up quitting violin and piano to focus on the flute, which he is more passionate about. 

He has been involved in West High’s music programs since his freshman year, starting with Jazz band, SEIBA, and honor band. This year he is a part of the All-State Orchestra. 

Not only does playing music bring Shrestha joy, but it has also helped him with his academics. 

“It really helps me not feel as stressed. Like, studying for long periods of time doesn’t work for me because I need something to de-stress in the middle of it, or my efficiency goes way down the boat.”

Music breaks during his study blocks have allowed Shrestha to maximize efficiency. It has also provided disciplinary help.

I feel like building that habit of practicing and building the discipline to do it without some sort of mental barrier has really helped me force myself to things academic-wise.”

— Bivan Shrestha '22

“It’s building a sense of discipline. I, at least, have found that I have been practicing pretty consistently. I feel like building that habit of practicing and building the discipline to do it without some sort of mental barrier has really helped me force myself to things academic-wise,” Shrestha explained. 

It is this passion and love for music that lead to Shrestha, alongside Jonathan Chen ’22, to form the Cadenza charity music club. They began with a focus on classical music. The type of music played has since expanded to be as inclusive as possible. They are no longer a strictly classical club, but a classical outreach resource to teach others about classical music. 

The club attempts to be as inclusive as possible, not just with music but membership as well. 

“If someone who isn’t as experienced wants to play, then they can definitely play at our concerts. We just like people who want to join Cadenza for fun. We want as many people in our club as possible,” Shrestha explains. 

If someone who isn’t as experienced wants to play, then they can definitely play at our concerts. We just like people who want to join Cadenza for fun. We want as many people in our club as possible.”

— Bivan Shrestha '22

“So Cadenza is a classical music charity club that me and [Jonathan Chen] started our sophomore year. We just thought that a musical charity club was missing at West because we have a lot of different forms of music. We have a regular band, an orchestra jazz band, but we didn’t really think that there was a chamber group that was solely focused on playing classical music.”

Their interest stemmed from musical interest and a desire to give back to musical programs like Music Auxiliary

Chen and Shrestha have since expanded their roles beyond co-founders as the club itself expands. They now have an executive board and a promotional team dedicated to organizing the concerts and promoting their club. They now have around 30 members and hope to continue to grow.

The concerts typically have multiple performances from the members of Cadenza. They perform solos, ensembles, or whatever the members want.

Cadenza performs at the Vue Rooftop to raise money for charity. (Used with permission from Bivan Shrestha)

“I guess in a normal year, we have concerts where we play in venues or at West. Some places that we played at before are the Vue rooftop hotel and just the Cafeteria at West High. Generally, we raise money for music charities,” Shrestha elaborated. 

They have also partnered with the UNICEF club at West and donated money to them for their first concert both this year and last year. 

All of the proceeds from their concerts go to charities like Music Auxiliary, the club does not keep any of it. There is no need for the executive board to keep any to pay for the venues as they get to perform for free. 

Like most things, this club was affected by COVID-19. It was a lot harder to advertise the club since the year started 100% online. This was a challenge for the majority of the year, as many of the members have been online all three trimesters. Shrestha chose the off-site learning option as did the other founder Jonathan Chen. 

The first impact the club saw was enrollment. 

“[Quarantine] definitely made participation harder to attain. There’s not really that togetherness that you get from making music with other people,” Shrestha said. 

Participation at regular meetings decreased as they moved to Zoom meetings rather than in-person meetings. 

“People aren’t really as motivated to come because online is more boring and we don’t really get that bond. We’ve been trying to make it more engaging by playing games like Scribble and making lessons more interesting.”

The way that concerts are performed has also changed but has made a more positive impact. Members can now record their parts and send them in.

“I feel like [recording has] made participation in our online concerts easier because we don’t have a set date that people have to go for concerts. People can just record whenever they’re free and send us the recording. There’s a lot more leeway,” Shrestha explained. 

Shrestha is looking forward to being able to expand his club next year.

We really just want to spread music as much as we can because it’s something a lot of us are really passionate about.”

— Bivan Shrestha '22

“We have a few goals planned out. Our biggest one is expanding to other [schools]. So right now we’ve found some people in Liberty who would be willing to start Cadenza there, and we’ve talked with our directors and they really like the idea. We really just want to spread music as much as we can because it’s something a lot of us are really passionate about.”

If this is something that intrigues any West High musicians, they are always looking for new members. The club can be contacted directly through the Instagram account, @cadenza_west, or email Bivan Shrestha at bishr22@icstudents.org.