Life changed dramatically after they returned home. Larry Kwicinski was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and the prognosis was not favorable.
Adriana, with encouragement from her mother, Nanci Caldwell, decided to sing and record her first CD with four of her dad's favorite jazz songs as a Father's Day gift that he could listen to while undergoing chemotherapy.
In just nine short months, Larry Kwicinski lost his battle with cancer. He died on Feb. 18, 2006, at age 57.
Adriana and her mother decided they had to do something to help raise public awareness of the need for a breakthrough in pancreatic cancer treatment and early detection. Drawing on her musical talent and her first recording experience, Adriana made another CD — "Irreplaceable"— in San Jose and San Francisco recording studios.
The CD is dedicated to her dad, "the best dad any kid could ever imagine," she says. All proceeds go to PanCan, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
"When you take something you really love and combine it with something you're passionate about — a good cause — it makes one feel better," says Adriana, now 14 and a freshman at Menlo School.
She sings favorites such as "Cheek to Cheek," "Lullaby of Birdland," "Embraceable You" and "Three Little Words" on the CD, with accompaniment by well-known jazz musicians Larry Dunlap, piano; Seward McCain, bass; and Jim Zimmerman, drums.
"We chose songs that were her father's favorites and songs that were appropriate for a young girl," said Adriana's vocal coach Wendy McCain, a jazz singer and a faculty member of the Stanford Jazz Workshop.
Adriana's interest in jazz took off when she was in sixth grade at Portola Valley's Corte Madera School. Juliet Green, the school's music specialist, introduced Adriana to jazz and encouraged her to audition for "Panache," Corte Madera's vocal jazz group.
She was one of only two sixth-graders accepted. That summer she participated in the Stanford Jazz Workshop and was invited to perform at several events.
Ms. Green, who was in the studio during Adriana's first recording session, describes Adriana's voice as "very pure and natural, with perfect pitch. I appreciate that she always sounds like herself, not affected or imitative the way many young singers are.
"She is a great soloist, but also can blend with a group, which reflects her personality."
"Music is my number one focus," Adriana says. She sings soprano in the Lorelei, the chorus at Menlo School, practicing four times a week at school; practices four to five hours a week at home; and continues to study with Ms. McCain.
During spring break, she'll travel with the Menlo chorus on its tour to South America, with stops in Peru, Chile and Argentina.
In the CD jacket notes, Adriana said she made the recording because she wanted to do something that would make a difference. "If only we could find a treatment that was more effective at fighting cancer. ... Although it is too late for my family, it doesn't have to be for other families, and I want to do everything I can to help."