University of Bridgeport music majors perform for the campus and community during the course of their studies. On December 3, sophomore Joshua Bustamante, 19, played the violin and viola during a one-hour concert at Littlefield Recital Hall. The venue was familiar to him. One of seven siblings, all of whom play at least one instrument, Bustamante grew up performing throughout Fairfield County as a member of Greater Bridgeport Youth Orchestra and other ensembles.

He is majoring in music, with a concentration in violin performance, and music education.

Did your parents play music?

My parents were never musical. Music was something that my older siblings started with, and since I wanted to be like them, I started to play the violin when I was five. We all took classes at Neighborhood Studios. It was nearby. We’d grab our instruments and walk down and have our first lessons. Over time, I was part of the Greater Bridgeport Youth Orchestra, Back Country Jazz BeBoppers, Music for Youth—they were the ones who encouraged me to try and pursue music. I also got involved at KEYS (Kids Empowered by Your Support). They give free music lessons to kids of Bridgeport. My family didn’t have to pay for lessons. It was a huge blessing.

Why the violin?

The violin was the smallest instrument, and I was always so short. It was the easiest for me to hold. Now that I’m here at UB, I’ve started to learn more about the viola.

As a kid, it can be tempting to do anything but practice. How did you stay focused?

My mother was one of my biggest motivators. She home schooled all seven of us and drove us to every rehearsal and every concert. She was there for every single recital. Our parents told us, ‘If you want to do anything, you have to do it to the best of your ability.’ That was our family motto. It was how we were raised. But I have to admit, being a kid, there were moments when I didn’t want to practice! I was blessed to grow up in an environment where the entire family is rooting for you and has your back.

What attracted you to UB’s music program?

I work with so many non-profits based around here: KEYS, where I’m a music teacher. We founded a string program at the Roosevelt School. It’s the only string program in a public school in Bridgeport. I’m also working with the Suzuki Music School of Westport. I’m able go to school at UB and continue to be in that network.

You created the program for your December concert. Tell us about it.

I did Trio for Piano, Violin, and Viola by Carl Reinecke, J.C. Bach Viola Concerto in C-Minor by Henri Cassadesus, and the Violin Concerto No. 1 in G-Minor by Max Bruch.

I chose the J.C. Bach because the viola is something people haven’t listened to a lot, and it shows off what the viola has to offer. [The viola] speaks in a different way than the violin, but it’s vastly underrated. In reality, because of the much warmer sound it has, you can reach different emotional levels than you could on the violin. The Bruch isn’t wildly difficult, but to express the emotions in the piece requires a certain level of emotional maturity.

What are your hopes for the people who listen to you?

One of the biggest joys in performing is exploring the boundaries of where music can go and presenting it to an audience so they feel awe-inspired. If there’s one person who wants to hear more after the last note has been played, then I feel something has been accomplished.