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Andrés Forero & the Unifying Power of Music

Compilation of photos: Andrés Forero  with various students and staffOn Monday, September 19, scores of students pour into the Hastings High School auditorium, with their eyes widened and a bounce in their step. Tony, Grammy and Emmy award-winning drummer and percussionist Andrés Forero is getting ready to give an original performance, and Hastings’ students have a front row seat.

The special, districtwide assembly to celebrate Hispanic/Latine Heritage month, organized by Farragut Middle School Spanish Teacher James Adamo and the District’s Diversity & Inclusion Coordinator Dr. Jenice Mateo-Toledo, is the result of a grant awarded by the Hastings Education Foundation. 

Mr. Forero’s introduction is about to be made as the students sit in eager anticipation. Taking the microphone, Mr. Adamo, a former schoolmate of Mr. Forero’s, primes the packed audience of young, joyous faces. 

“How many of you have seen the musical Hamilton?” Mr. Adamo asked the crowd of students. Almost every hand darted up with excitement. 

After a few more words to set the scene, Mr. Adamo exclaimed, “And with that, please give a round of applause for Andrés Forero!” The rush of roars from students could be heard through the auditorium and out into the school halls. 

Forero walked out onto the stage and took a seat at his SONOR drum set. A combination of audio and visuals ignited the senses. Theatrical clips flashed across the movie screen backdrop. Sharp rapping and hollow rumbles sounded from Mr. Forero’s drums. Chronicling his career and using the “crossover,” a technique where one hand passes over the other while moving to a different part of the drum set, Mr. Forero played along to excerpts from critically acclaimed musical films and Broadway shows like Vivo, In the Heights, and Hamilton. 

“I do these presentations all over the world,” said Mr. Forero. “This is one of my favorites. You are lucky to have such great teachers and staff and such a wonderful place to learn and grow in.”

Feedback received from the event was overwhelmingly positive. Student and Editor of Hastings High School’s newspaper, Catherine Cho, was especially moved by the performance. “This experience will stick with me forever. I had a wonderful, enlightening time and I'm so, so glad I was able to meet Andrés,” she said. 

This sentiment was echoed by Dr. Mateo-Toledo who added, “Our District was blessed to be in community with you.”

In addition to his busy work schedule, which includes being the studio drummer for the #1 rated children's television show, The Electric Company, a Sesame Street Production, Mr. Forero travels to school communities to perform and teaches at music clinics. For our performance, his family even came to join the celebration. 

“Education has to be visible as much as it is audible,” Mr. Forero explained. “I have always been a visual learner. I think that it helps to tell stories in a bigger, more impactful way.” 

Forero’s performance serves to remind us of the importance of listening and learning about others and encourages us to allow the power of music to bring us together.

“Spend as much time as you can learning about different cultures,” Forero said. “Being open to different cultures opens your brain and your heart.”

Click here to read Andrés Forero's biography.