The first Benning Academy of Music opened in Ensenada in January of 2010, The original academy had seven classrooms and a large rehearsal room, which also served as a recital and concert hall for the orchestral groups formed there. Now the Academy has over 300 students.
In April of 2012, the Academy moved again to its current location on 4th Street, where it hosts an ever-growing number of students.
A very special musical event occurred last month at the Ventana al Mar, sanctioned by Erika Guevara and the Port of Ensenada, and hosted by Tito Quiroz Angulo, director emeritus of the Benning Academy of Music in Ensenada.
The show, which was open to the public free of charge, opened with a jazz ensemble but the highlight of the evening was a performance on violin by Mitchell Newman, who was accompanied by Erika Galitskaia on grand piano. The pair performed classical pieces so well received by the crowd that they returned twice to honor standing ovations.
Tito Quiroz and the story of how he came to establish and grow the Benning Academy of Music is a miracle of faith and good will. He became an orphan at an early age and while living at the orphanage he met Nancy Benning who was teaching violin there.
Ms. Benning and her family adopted Tito, and brought him with them when they moved from the mainland to Ensenada. Here, Tito continued to study.
One of his most admirable accomplishments is the establishment of a music school inside the youth prison in Ensenada. He personally raised $100,000 by hosting musical performances to build the institution. As a result of his efforts, he has reduced the recidivism rate in the youth facility by 70%. Eventually they formed an orchestra, and learned to perform and to interact as members of a team.
Tito currently provides such services and instruments to the elderly and disabled and to anyone he can reach.
Last year Tito was honored by President Enrique Pena Nieto who presented Sr. Quiroz with the National Youth Award. This is the highest public recognition granted to young Mexicans for their dedication to society. During that ceremony, President Pena Nieto noted Tito’s establishment of the Benning Academy of Music right here in Ensenada, as well as his creation of the music school in the correctional facility.
The Benning Violins Gallery in Studio City, California, provides instruments for the Academy in Ensenada with donations from the private sector.
Anyone can sponsor a student at the Benning Academy of Music with a donation of $40 per month, a small price to pay for changing someone’s life for the better. As Tito says, “Music changes people’s lives.” His own life is a testament to that statement.