Last months edition of the San Carlos Wireless featured this story on the Fray. I am going to include the audio from his interview with Ines as well as the written story here. So if you want to hear about the Fray in his own words just use the audio player above.
A Man with a Dream
At 85 years of age, 62 of those years as a Franciscan brother, restless, generous and pretty sharp, sharp as an arrow actually, brother Fray Ivo Tonek continues providing kids in Guaymas an opportunity to, as he put it to us at the Wireless, “ learn arts, try to provide them with something important, an opportunity to be a happier person, to have a better life, increase self esteem. We have a motto here, bring us your child and you will receive an artist.”
As we went to meet up with the Fray for this interview he was standing in front of Bellas Artes, a dream he helped become reality, measuring something in the back of his pick up truck. As we approached, a mother and her 15 year old daughter showed up to discuss something of great urgency with Fray Tonek and we took our rightful place in line. That is so often how it goes when hanging out with Fray Tonek. Everybody wants to chat with the Fray. The exact same thing happened just the other night after the brand new Orquesta Symphonica y El Coro Esperanza Azteca Sonora gave a private recital to local school teachers from Guaymas at Bellas Artes in Guaymas. We had to respectfully take our place in line after the performance just to say congratulations on a job well done. The man has done so much for so many in Guaymas. Just two weeks ago during Carnival the Fray was proudly watching the Bellas Artes Marching Band, another of his pet projects, when a woman walked up to him and insisted he immediately take a donation from her. That’s just what happens when you are Charles William Tonek aka The Fray.
The newest in the chain of many long and distinguished projects that Fray Tonek has taken on over the years is now no longer just a dream but a reality, the children’s symphony orchestra of Guaymas. It is an impressive undertaking and I wonder if it really could have happened here in Guaymas with out him.
In 2009 Ricardo Salinas owner of T.V. Azteca and founder of the Fundación Azteca came up with the idea to create a children’s symphony orchestra in every state in Mexico, this program is formally called Esperanza Azteca. The idea is modeled on a very successful Venezuelan program that was started over 30 years ago by Venezuelan Jose Antonio Abreu. In 1975 Abreu, a talented pianist, economist, educator, activist and politician started a publicly sponsored program called Foundation for the National Network of Youth and Children Orchestras of Venezuela commonly called El Sistema. Ricardo Salinas wisely choose to copy the program. Enter Fray Tonek, “It took two years to get them to come, they wanted to form a youth symphony in Hermosillo because they knew they could get teachers in Hermosillo, but I said they have a youth symphony they have a state band why don’t you give Guaymas a chance come and see our school. So finally they came, they loved our installation they said ok but you are gonna have to get the teachers so little by little we got the teachers.” Said The Fray.
And find the teachers he did, from Peru to Guaymas and every where in between, Bellas Artes now has no less than 15 teachers working with 100 kids in the orchestra and 50 in the choir. They are still looking for 50 more children to fill up the choir. So we think it is safe to say that Guaymas culture has a synonym, Brother Fray Ivan Tonek.