Sunday, April 11, 2010
Our region's Festival of the Arts took place this week. My kids played 22 selections total. A lot of music! Some were unaccompanied string solos, many were string solos with piano accompaniment (necessitating rehearsals with a lovely accompanist friend who came from her neck of the woods for the week), some were piano selections and some were chamber group music.
The atmosphere at the festival was fantastic. Over the past few years a new group of volunteers has taken the festival and moved it forward into a new, non-competitive style of vitality, collegiality and inspiring supportiveness. The adjudicators were fabulous. Both the strings and the piano guys were known to us through summer workshops so we even knew ahead of time that they were going to be fabulous, which really allowed everyone to feel confidently optimistic about the experience during the preparation and rehearsal phase.
The last time the festival took place, two years ago, it wasn't as excellent an experience for a combination of personnel-related reasons, but the mutually supportive atmosphere amongst the students and their families had really begun to take shape. And one of the results of sitting all day in the pews of a church whispering and sharing jokes and good feelings with other performers during the time the adjudicator was writing up her comments was that the students from our little town decided that they wanted to continue to do regular chamber music playing together. Summit Strings, formed in order to do one simple performance at that 2008 festival (see link above), became an ongoing affair and a continued commitment.
Over the past two years Summit Strings has grown in musical ability, maturity and sound, and they've also grown together as friends. It has been my privilege to be their coach and facilitator during this time. They are a small group of violinists (even smaller since two of them moved to Calgary this year), with Noah playing what would normally be the cello line on viola. They've played a wide variety of repertoire at a wide variety of venues, from local outdoor festivals to Suzuki institute concerts to community performances and dance workshops.
And so it seemed especially fitting that it was at the same music festival where the seed of Summit Strings had first been planted where they were asked, two years later, to take to the big stage and open the Honours Concert. They played their "party piece," a sweet little Tango by Michael McLean, with the bass line of the piano part played by Noah on the viola. This video is from the morning performance at the festival class. The Honours Concert performance was tighter and more exciting (partly because, at the adjudicator's suggestion we put Noah in the middle, an approach which worked really well) but the sound and video quality aren't nearly as good in the full, dark Capitol Theatre.