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CMPI flute fellow Anika Veda already has amassed several musical honors, including a performance at Carnegie Hall as the winner of the 2019 American Protégé Music Talent Competition. This Halloween–October 31 at 11:00am, to be exact–Anika will make a well-deserved appearance on WFMT 98.7. Her featured, pre-recorded performance will air during Introductions, the station’s weekly showcase of top area-youth classical musicians.

Anika’s gift for music is undeniable now, as demonstrated by the growing list of successes, yet it took time for her parents to realize that the second-year CMPI fellow would fully embrace music when she was younger.

“I didn’t recognize she would be so passionate about music. It came as a surprise,” her mother, Malini, says. “The last few years, us (as parents) leading our kid to something kind of stopped and she started digging into what would take her to the next level in flute on her own. We had to take a back seat and she started leading the way.”

In fact, Anika’s self-motivation has led her to the top of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra. Currently a junior at William Fremd High School in Palatine, IL, she earned a promotion this fall to CYSO’s Symphony Orchestra–the highest of CYSO’s four levels. Just as impressively, she has developed into a leader of others.

“Last school year I was volunteering and teaching computer science,” Anika says. “I was teaching middle school girls in Girls Who Code. I also help run a non-profit organization called Sharing the Stand that was started at the beginning of the coronavirus.”

Sharing the Stand was created to provide free online music lessons and mentorship “for all band and orchestral instruments, piano and guitar.” Anika and three other youth musicians were recognized for the program in a feature on CYSO’s website. “I’d say our youngest kids are (around) first grade and our oldest kids are maybe in eighth grade,” Anika says. “We have 75 mentors and 90 students right now.”

Music performance and mentorship aren’t the only places where Anika excels. “I like to challenge myself in school as well as music,” she says. Few of her peers understand the commitment she makes to each. “Especially with music. It’s a whole different world that most people don’t know,” says Anika, who has also been performing Carnatic vocal–Indian classical music–since preschool.

It was a world that Anika’s parents were unaware of when father Mahesh put a recorder into her then 4-year-old hands. One of Malini’s grandmothers sang Carnatic vocal and along with some siblings also played the veena, an Indian stringed instrument. But Mahesh and Malina are not musical, and loved seeing how the world of music helped teach Anika lessons, like patience and perseverance. “There was a phase where she would go and she would not win a competition,” Malini recalls. “(Coach Hideki Amano) told her, ‘Anika, your time will come,’ and the last couple of years we’ve seen all of the efforts pay off.”

Mahesh, who marvels at Anika’s nerves of steel onstage, believes CMPI also is paying off. “It’s a two-way street between CMPI and the kids,” he says. “Opportunity kind of drives the ambition in kids. CMPI appeals because of the Master Classes, which helps her understand how people go through adversity and learn to overcome these things as they go along.”

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