The Mandeville siblings continue to end up at St. Tammany Community News music competitions

An 11-year-old violinist from Mandeville has brought home another prestigious music award and will appear as a soloist with the Greater New Orleans Youth Orchestra this spring.

Alana Saenz, a student at Southeastern Louisiana University’s Community Music School, won the Philharmonia Division of the Greater New Orleans Youth Orchestra’s concert competition on January 3 in New Orleans.

“As a violin teacher, I can say that she is very committed to her violin studies, as is her older brother Brennan Saenz, who was selected second in the competition this year,” said Jivka Duke, director of the Community Music School.

“Despite their young age, both always perform with exceptional artistry and musical maturity. Alana has really put a lot of hard work into her violin skills this year and her victory is well deserved. I am delighted that your talent and efforts are recognized and rewarded. “(Last year, Brennan was named the Outstanding Violinist of the School Year, while Alana was second.)

In 2018 and 2019 Alana was one of the winners of the Southeastern Concerto Competition, and in January 2019 she and Brennan, one year older, won the symphony section of the GNOYO concert competition with Vivaldi’s “Concerto for Two Violins in A” less.

“This year Alana played the all-time favorite and pretty challenging ‘Czardas’ from Vittorio Monti,” said Duke.

Alana, now a fifth grade house student, began playing the violin in first grade. She also enjoys competitive gymnastics and science. Brennan, a seventh grader, plays the violin, piano and saxophone. He loves all types of music and enjoys being part of the St. Tammany Parish Talented Music Program.

Duke said she hoped the Sanez siblings’ success will inspire others to work hard.

“We have high hopes and dreams for our students, including the fact that such accomplishments will inspire all of our students to pursue excellence in their music studies,” Duke said in 2019 after the siblings’ one-two victory against an SLU campus reporter.

Her mother, Diana Sanchez, also told the reporter that both of the children practiced almost daily for 10 months before winning the concert competition.

“I want to keep playing music in high school and for fun and for the rest of my life,” Brennan said. Alana said she would play until the age of 12 and then decide how to proceed.

The 13-week spring semester of the Community Music School in spring 2021 starts in the week of January 25th and offers students of all ages individual lessons on various instruments and with voice. Classes are held at the three CMS locations in Southeastern in Hammond, the Livingston Literacy Center in Walker and the Northshore Technical Community College in Lacombe.

For more information on all CMS programs and general registration, please call (985) 549-5502 or visit the CMS website at