Life So Far...
Martin Lopez began his violin career at the age of three, under the guidance of world-renowned violinist Betty Haag and Chicago’s Urban Gateways, an inner-city program co-sponsored by the Chicago Symphony. After three months in the program, Betty Haag realized Martin’s talent and offered him a scholarship to her school; the Betty Haag’s Suzuki Academy of Performing Arts. At age five, Martin made his first concert tour in Europe with Mrs. Haag’s performing group, which also included numerous concerts at the Chicago Symphony. At age six, he was invited to solo with the Chicago Symphony at their Petite Promenade Concert Series. One of the highlights of his youth was performing in Carnegie Hall before a sold out audience. The opportunities to tour with the performing group were endless. In 1985 the group completed a West Coast concert tour, which included UCLA, the Crystal Cathedral, and Disneyland. Martin subsequently toured Europe with the group, performing in France, Germany, Italy, and at the Vatican for Pope John Paul II.
Like so many challenges in life, Martin’s parents divorced. Through perseverance and dedication, his love for music brought him through this difficult time. Unfortunately this would not be the only challenge for him. In the spring of 1993, Martin was approached by gang members and shot in the abdomen. He eventually made a full recovery and continued to play the violin.
“You can never fully appreciate life until it’s almost taken away from you,” says Martin.
After a concert in Chicago’s Orchestra Hall with Betty Haag’s alumni students, Martin Lopez was recommended for a position with the Chicago Public School’s inner city program, making a full circle of where he began at age three. Soon he convinced the director to let him begin a program for two-year-old children. As the program flourished, Mr. Lopez was put in charge of six teachers and conducted repertoire classes with 100 students from 20 different schools.
Inspired by Betty Haag’s example, Martin formed his own school in McHenry County, Illinois; The Martin Lopez Academy. From his own experiences and with the inner city children, Martin is dedicated to teach children starting at age 3. In 2008, Mr. Lopez established a non-for profit organization 4 Strings Attached, which made their first international tour to Guadalajara, Mexico, where the group came on national TV. From his younger touring years, Martin wanted to continue this tradition with 4 Strings Attached.
The year 2009 was busy. 4 Strings Attached toured Florida, where the group performed at Disney and Universal Studios. Also, Martin’s good friend and accomplished musician, Nikola Naidenov invited him to Bulgaria to tour and perform together. Little did Martin realize, his trip to Bulgaria would change his life. He fell in love not only with the country but with a special young woman.
Unable to forget the beautiful young woman he’d met, Martin jumped at the chance to return to the country that captured his heart. In the summer of 2010, once again Martin toured with 4 Strings Attached and Nikola Naidenov to Sofia, Plovdiv and Smolian.
After the tour, Martin was reunited with the Bulgarian woman. Anastasia and Martin’s love quickly developed and in December they married in Bulgaria.
The Martin Lopez Academy continues to grow and 4 Strings Attached has gained in popularity around Chicago. Bill Campbell for ABC Channel 7 highlighted the group in his program ChicagoIng.
During the summer of 2013, 4 Strings Attached performed all over the Chicago area, catching the eye of a producer at Channel 5 NBC, where they did a news story about them. In October, 4 Strings Attached participated the Columbus Day Parade where they were aired on Channel 7.
Inspired and motivated by his wife, Anastasia, Martin started composing new author’s music and is now working on his second CD, but this time with new modern sounding.
Life is exciting and constantly changing for Martin and Anastasia. Their love for each other and music is evident in their success.
Photographer: Anastasia Lopez