While the pandemic was spreading in 2020, a group of students at Montemorelos University in Mexico came up with an idea to minister through music in their Adventist church and the community.
Students Nivardo Castillo and Israel Esparza, both enrolled in music programs at different universities, formed a musical ensemble called Youth Quarantine Music (YQM) to record and share free music. Today, they have more than 30 students from high school, college, and a local church who are part of the initiative.
“The mission of this group is to bring peace, a smile, and reflection through music and artistic expression to so many people who have been affected in these times,” Castillo, one of the founders of YQM, said. Castillo is studying music with an emphasis on music education at Montemorelos University.
Esparza, who studies piano performance at Monterrey’s School of Music and Dance and is a member of the Vallarta Seventh-day Adventist Church in Monterrey, is a co-founder of YQM. “We know that music has an impact on people, and that’s why we wanted to create an alternative to help overcome, through music, the difficulties that the pandemic has brought on so many families,” he said.
Using the slogan “Music in Times of COVID,” the project began with a string quintet this past July. As the months went by, younger professional or amateur musicians wanted to share their talents and time, which then turned into Youth Quarantine Music, which today includes an orchestra, a choir, and a chamber orchestra: Youth Quarantine Ensemble, Youth Quarantine Choir, and Youth Quarantine Chamber Music.
“Even though we have our school, work, and personal obligations, we know that there is a great need, and that’s why on a voluntary basis we make time to assist with the tools that we have and take advantage of the virtual opportunities,” Castillo said. “We want to be young people who reflect a light in a confused world.”
YQM has generated a repertoire of free sacred and popular music, which has been posted through social media platforms for anyone to enjoy on a personal level or can use in any event, he explained. “All the scores of each piece recorded have been acquired by legal means,” Castillo explained, adding that YQM is not looking for any profit.
Currently, YQM has been requested and used in several programs in the North Mexican Union, Monteremorelos University church, a school district led by the secretary of education in Monterrey, and the Vallarta Adventist church. “We have also seen viewership grow in our social media networks,” Castillo added.
In a letter from the Vallarta church’s youth ministries department, YQM was praised for its commitment, talent, and professionalism. “During this time, it has been difficult not to let worries and the situation overcome us, but it’s beautiful to see how many talented young people take the time to share those musical talents with other young people,” the letter stated. “They don't do so to obtain any merit or any type of remuneration but as an act of personal commitment. That commitment, that drive for doing and sharing, is what we all need.”
“This new group is facing many challenges in the short and long term, but thanks to the dedication of all the members, we are sure that we will be able to continue impacting the lives of many people,” Castillo said.