Long Island at Lincoln Center: Teen Twin Brothers to Play Cello on Famous NYC Stage

lincoln center
Twins Constantine Vontas (left) and Kimon Vontas (right), check out the cellos they will play on Monday, May 22 at Lincoln Center, with Kolstein Music President Manny Alvarez.

Long Island at Lincoln Center: Teen Twin Brothers to Play Cello on Famous NYC Stage

Music students from Long Island, including a set of twin cellists, will showcase their talents at Lincoln Center on May 22.

The young musicians will perform in the Children’s Orchestra Society (COS)’s annual concert. Syosset-based COS is a youth music organization led by Dr. Yeou Cheng Ma, sister of famous cellist Yo Yo Ma, and her husband, guitarist-conductor Michael Dadap. Kolstein’s, a highly ranked luthier manufacturer in Baldwin, is one of the concert’s sponsors.

“It’s unfortunate how every week the news media reports accounts of students and young people caught up in crime. So when we see exceptional, outstanding students who have demonstrated diligence and leadership through their music education, we try to encourage it,” says Manny Alvarez, owner of Kolstein’s.

COS, which holds its practices at the Long Island High School for the Arts in Syosset, focuses on five programs: orchestra, chamber music, musicianship, ensemble, and majors for more advanced students. COS fosters a valuable work ethic plus a healthy balance of team spirit and pride in personal achievement. Many COS alumni are professional musicians.

Kimon Vontas, an 18-year-old senior at John F. Kennedy Senior High School in Plainview, is looking forward to his first Lincoln Center solo. Meanwhile, Kimon’s twin brother, Constantine, who also plays the cello, will be performing in the orchestra.

A student at COS since 2017, Kimon has risen in the ranks from the Sinfonia Orchestra, the junior symphonic orchestra, to become the principal cellist of the Young Symphonic Ensemble. He has received many awards and has participated in LISFA, NYSSMA, and All State auditions.

The young cellist originally began taking piano lessons when he was 6 years old. By the time he was turning 8, he had gravitated to string instruments like the viola. He began taking lessons with the cello because he felt a strong connection to the sound of it.  

“The cello offers raw music of very high quality relative to the human voice,” Kimon says.

The cellist who has been the biggest influence on Kimon is the late Jacqueline Du Pre from Great Britain. Her career was cut short by multiple sclerosis.  “Some critics complained how Ms. Du Pre played with too much emotion,” he says. “I admire showing emotion through playing music.”

He adds that Covid was frustrating because it limited the ability to do many live music performances. Kimon maintains a full schedule playing the cello for John F. Kennedy High School performances. 

Kimon does about 15 community group performances per year. He practices about seven hours per week, at least one hour a day, usually at night at home. That equates to about 364 hours of practice a year and more than 1000 hours in the past three years.

To date one of Kimon’s most memorable experiences has been performing with the COS at Carnegie Hall in 2019.