The man named Jazz Pianist of the Year may have never pursued his art if not for a scholarship he received in his final year of high school at St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary School. In 1993, after a lengthy interview process in which his passion for the piano was revealed, David Braid was awarded the St. Thomas Aquinas Centre of the Arts Foundation Scholarship for post-secondary studies in the Arts. The award was his first musical recognition, and it made him believe a career in music might, in fact, be possible.
Twenty-four years later, Braid, a celebrated jazz pianist and Steinway artist, was able to offer words of encouragement to another scholarship award winner, Briana-Lynn Pinto Briero. The Cathedral student received her award at the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board’s “Celebrating Excellence in Catholic Education” Awards Ceremony on June 6th, where presenters Sandi Richardson and Mary Ann Demsar read a letter written by David to Briana-Lynn in which he urged her “to hold on to your roots.” He added it was the tools that he acquired through his Catholic Education that have sustained and supported him throughout his career. Braid’s full letter is transcribed below.
Braid and Pinto Briero are just two of the many local Catholic student-artists who have been able to pursue their education, love, passion and enthusiasm for the arts, thanks to St. Thomas Aquinas Centre for the Arts Foundation scholarships.
On June 6th, the foundation celebrated 25 years of awarding scholarships to deserving Catholic secondary graduates at a reception at the Lincoln Alexander Centre where past award recipients, teachers, artists, trustees, teachers, parents and supporters were on hand to celebrate its rich legacy in Hamilton.
Message from David Braid:
I am so happy for this opportunity to say hello to everyone here tonight.
Please allow me to express a very heartfelt thanks to the “Saint Thomas Aquinas Centre For The Arts Foundation” for recognizing twenty-five years of exceptional student conviction in the arts. I am flattered to be a past recipient of this award; and, nearly one quarter-century later, it is easy to recall receiving this honour on a warm sunny evening in 1993 whilst accompanied by my high school principal Theresa Mazza and my girlfriend Tina Perez, who is now my wife.
Before receiving this award, a career for me in music seemed absolutely unlikely, however, this award was my first musical recognition and it made me think otherwise for the first time.
In addition to acknowledging the inspiration that award gave me, I also acknowledge that my education in the Catholic School system provided tools for a career that most people told me was impossible to sustain.
To the aspiring artists here tonight: do you know that your Catholic education provides the basic qualities central to becoming an artist? You learn to practice mindfully; to seek truth; to believe in forces much greater than yourself; to seek guidance; to be meek in spirit; to be dedicated; to be emotionally aware; to be self-aware; to empathize; to sympathize; to be resilient; to remain modest with success; to absorb long-standing traditions; and to be reverent to the Sacred.
Many artists acquire those basic qualities only after years of hard work and introspection, but, we receive them simply as the by-products of practicing our Faith. How fortunate that our Faith also provides the ultimate advantage for artists, namely, the opportunities to engage in Sacraments connecting us to the very source of Creativity and Truth.
To this year’s recipient, Briana-Lynn Pinto Brieiro: many congratulations on achieving this special recognition and on everything you have accomplished on screen and on stage! I urge you to hold on to your roots as they can ground you throughout your post-secondary studies and throughout your career in a brutally competitive and unforgiving industry. I wish you to grow in knowledge, skill, and Faith so you will have the tools to uncover meaning about why you were chosen to be an artist.
With sincerest wishes,