Meet the Founders of this Great Movement
Meet the Founders of this Great Movement
Founder – Chief Executive Officer
Producer – Arranger – Composer
Esteban Alvarez was born and raised in San Jose, Costa Rica. His passion for music began at the age of 9 when his father brought home a small electronic keyboard. Fascinated by this, Esteban started to play by ear and to compose simple melodies. A year later Esteban began his music studies with Prof. Omar Arroyo. At the age of 18 Esteban began his studies in Physics as well as Music at the University of Costa Rica, where he learned the basics of classical music. At the age of 20, he was selected to arrange and conduct the music for the Escazu Folk-Music band at the SIVO Music Festival celebrated in Central Europe. A year later, he was awarded a full scholarship to pursue a Bachelors degree in Classical Piano Performance at Baylor University. Here he was nominated ambassador of culture during his sophomore year. Esteban studied with Dr. Terry Lynn Hudson and Dr. Vincent DeFries.
Esteban served as a pianist for the Jazz Ensemble at Baylor, performing with worldwide renown artists such as Maria Schneider, Jon Faddis, and Wycliff Gordon. He was also selected to participate in the International Mission on Music, celebrated in Eastern Europe. After graduating with honors, Esteban was awarded with a full scholarship to pursue a Master’s degree in the renowned Jazz Studies Program at the University of North Texas. Here he studied with Professor Dan Haerle, and Stefan Karlsson. He attended master classes by Chris Potter, Dave Brubeck, John Abercrombie, Jonathan Kreisberg, among others. During his time at UNT Esteban performed with several large Jazz Ensembles, including the Latin Jazz Ensemble and the Caribe Club, which featured him during the first International Jazz Festival of Costa Rica.
As a composer, Esteban has written music for small ensembles, orchestra, large ensembles, and chamber groups. In 2007 and 2008 Esteban wrote the songs for the National Peace Program of Costa Rica, and the Organization of Costa Rica & Nicaragua. These songs received special awards by Dr. Oscar Arias, Nobel Peace Laureate and President of Costa Rica at that time. In 2008 Esteban traveled to Guatemala, Qatar, and Nepal to represent Costa Rica performing in National Music Festivals, as well as speaking about peace and education. In 2009 Esteban was awarded the UNT-DC scholarship to work in the Congress, as well as to serve as a Cultural Attaché intern for the Costa Rica embassy in Washington D.C.
Esteban relocated to Austin (Texas), where he is an EB-2 Visa Permanent Resident (a status for individuals who possess extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics and are considered “Individuals of National Interest”), and he was recently nominated “Good Will Embassador” and guest Artist to the International Peace Foundation, based in Hong Kong. Esteban has appeared several times in solo concerts during 2012, 2013 and 2014 in Hong Kong, as well as in the National Theater of Costa Rica.
During 2013 Esteban was nominated “Steinway Artist”. Some of the names on this list include Lang Lang, Diana Krall, Arthur Rubinstein, Duke Ellington, Keith Jarrett, and others of this caliber. Click on the Steinway Gold Logo to find more information about this special designation.
Esteban’s latest album “Tico Groove” was Awarded Best Album of 2015 by Akademia. For more information: click here.
Founder & Chief Financial Officer
A native of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, Willie now resides in Bastrop, Texas where he now enjoys post retirement life with his wife Diana. Willie is father to three daughters, Amber, Cicely and Tiffany and two grandchildren, Lyric and London.
After 36 years in finance management (16 with IBM and 20 with Apple), Willie retired from corporate America and immediately went to work on his personal bucket list. Besides the typical bucket list items such as spending more time with family and traveling, two other items at the top of his list were to have a bigger positive impact on the world and to restart piano lessons he had abandoned as a child. It was these to items that helped to give birth to the Music Peace Project.
Wanting to be tutored by the best, Willie selected Esteban as his piano teacher and after a rigorous screening, Esteban agreed. During this process, the student/teacher relationship soon turned into a close friendship. After his weekly lessons he and Esteban would spend time discussing philosophies, religion, and world issues and it soon became apparent that both loved music and that both wanted to make a difference in the world. Esteban had a vision to combine those two passions to bring about positive change, and from this, the concept of the Music Peace Project was born.
Esteban is unquestionably the creative genius behind the project, and Willie draws upon his vast experience in corporate America, when not singing, to handle the business aspects of the non-profit organization.
Willie earned his undergraduate degree in accounting from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, and later went on to earn a Masters degree in Management from Houston Baptist University. Willie serves the Austin community in other capacities as well. Other activities include serving as Chairman of the Amplify Federal Credit Union Board of Directors, Chairman of the Finance Committee for Wesley United Methodist Church, and Lay Speaker for the United Methodist Church.
Other items on his bucket list include, seeing each of the seven wonders of the world (five more to go), visiting each presidential library in the U.S. (five more to go), traveling to major cities in countries around the world, and visiting each of the seven continents (two more to go).
Velvet Hammerschmidt is the founder of Velvet Hammerschmidt Design, a full-service residential and commercial interior design firm. Over the past 20 years, Velvet has completed projects for clients that include DreamWorks, Warner Bros. Omnicom, Memorex, and LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) as well as some of the most architecturally and design significant homes in Los Angeles. Prior to launching Velvet Hammerschmidt Design, Velvet served as co-founder and partner at Toll Hammerschmidt Design, a boutique interior design firm established in 1999. Earlier in her career, Velvet worked for top international firms such as Gensler, and HLW international and spent a critical style-shaping period with Eric Owen Moss, a world-renowned architect known for his unconventional sense of geometry and structure. In addition to her professional experience, Velvet’s accomplishments range from being a three-time winner of Home and Garden Television’s (HGTV) “Designers’ Challenge” to being profiled in Interior Design magazine’s “New Talent” issue as one of the top ten designers to watch in the nation. Her work has also been published in Interior Design, Interiors, The Los Angeles Business Journal, The Los Angeles Time and InStyle. She is a frequent speaker and lecturer on topics of interior design and is a recipient of the AIA Interior Architecture Award. Velvet is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of California State University, Long Beach, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design.
You May Contact Our Office at:
Phone: 254-366-7789 or E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Music Peace Project, 107 Trailblazer Drive, Bastrop TX, 78602