Vasquez: Vanessa, can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
Centeno: I'm 18 years old. I've been in CMW—and I'm counting
this year, even though I graduated last year—for seven years. I
play the violin. I'm a freshman at Rhode Island College, and I live
How did you get involved in CMW?
My mom must have signed me up. Maybe through City Arts,
I think it was. I really don't remember much, it was so long ago!
All I remember is Marconi and Elizabeth, and Ruth. The four of us
were always together, from the beginning.
When did you realize CMW was important to you?
Actually, I really realized it after I graduated. Because
it's been so weird not being around the same people this year, not
having them for support. I used to come in and say, “Oh my God,
I did this wrong,” and they used to be like, “Don't worry, you can
do it again,” or they'd help me out on something.
How has CMW changed your life? When you were in high school, and
also now that you're in college.
I have to say, it's given me more leadership and social
skills. It's given me a way to get around and interact with people
that I normally wouldn't get around with. In Phase II, I was one
of the oldest ones because I was here when it started. So it was
a way to help out the little kids, and mentor them. Because of all
that, I want to become a publicist. And you know, becoming school
president, and getting involved with different things, I think it
has to do everything with CMW.
Did you ever think of quitting?
Many, many times. Once, Sebastian's dad actually stopped
me from quitting. Sebastian's dad was at the end-of-the-year concert,
and maybe he had heard from Sebastian that I was thinking about
quitting, and he said to me, “You know, Sebastian wanted to quit
once.” And then he told me I really shouldn't quit. I was surprised
to hear that, because Sebastian is so dedicated. And after that,
my mom was like, “You're not quitting.” And I'm like, “Fine, I won't
Who do you think was your most important relationship in CMW?
Sebastian. He's been my teacher since I started. He was
always there, whenever I needed something. I can talk to him about
anything, and I don't feel uncomfortable about it at all. If I have
a problem, he's the first one to give me advice on it. When it came
to college, he was the first one on me. “Do you have your applications
done?” You know, my mom hasn't been through the whole school and
applications things, and how to deal with high school and stuff
like that. So it's very different. I used to go to him a lot and
talk to him. He's either like my dad or my big brother. One of those
Now we're going to get the juicy stuff. What was your most embarrassing
moment in CMW?
I don't remember. Oh! When we had to do the poem. We had
to write a poem, that's actually now in the program book. The freedom
poem. It was in the news and everything. I had to say the first
verse of one of the stanzas, and the Spanish came out. I can't remember
what the word was, but instead of me saying it in English, I said
it in the Spanish accent. And because of that, I stumbled, and forgot
a couple of the words. That was my most embarrassing moment.
What about your most proudest moment?
When I played in front of everybody at graduation. The
Two Grenadiers. My high school graduation. That was definitely
my proudest moment.
What was your best musical moment?
Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. That was my
most memorable, wonderful musical moment, because when we first
got in there, we had no idea what everyone else was playing, because
we didn't know how to read music. It was me, Elizabeth, and Tae.
So we're in there with a bunch of little kids younger than us, they're
like five years old. And they're like, going away at the music,
and we're just staring at it, like, “What is this?” We couldn't
understand it at all. And you could see some of the parents noticed
it, and they were kind of laughing. But because of that, we persevered,
and we actually learned how to read music. We taught ourselves.
Well, I'm not going to say that the teachers didn't help, but I
was looking through my music, and every note had something
written on it because we had to learn how to do it. And learning
that music, and then performing in such a big group, that was one
of the best moments for me.
You were in Phase II when it first started. How was it different
back then ?
It was different because I don't think we actually knew
what we were doing. We would come in, watch movies, and hang out.
Don't get me wrong, it was a lot of fun, but I think it's even better
now. I think it's grown up to be just not separating the younger
kids from the older kids, but trying to have the older kids be mentors
for the younger kids. To help them out, help them transition into
being musicians and artists. Because basically the little kids look
up to the Phase II kids. They're like, “Alright, when I get older
I'm going to be in this group, so I have to prepare myself to be
part of Phase II, to be able to take a leadership role and work
out stuff. Not just by myself, but with other people.”
How would your life be different without CMW?
VC: I don't think I'd be me. I don't think I'd be
kooky enough. I don't know, I can't even think about it. It's hard
to think about not having CMW around.