Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Handbell soloist comes to Lincoln

The evening of August 29, about 60 members of the Lincoln community took the time to attend a handbell solo recital given at First Plymouth Congregational Church. The handbell soloist and her accompanist came to Lincoln from Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania. Sue Garton performs with English handbells, three full octaves span the table, and some pieces require duplicats that she keeps on hand. Garton has performed through the U.S. as well as Kiev, Ukraine, and Presov, Slovakia--and her performance here in Lincoln was a delight.
Garton began by performing "Are you Dressed for the Wedding?" Afterwards, she explained that it is about the heavenly wedding banquet when Christ comes. As she rearranged her bells following the piece, she told the audience that they are arranged like the keys of a piano, but with one advantage, she can move them wherever she wants. Garton and her accompanist, Marilyn Hines, played three more hymns or spirituals including "Lord of the Dance," "Finlandia," and "Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel."
Although the evening also included some Broadway tunes, the most musical, and beautiful arrangement for the handbells was Claude Debussy's "Clair de Lune." The piece is originally written for solo piano, but the arrangement did a wonderful job of dividing the music up between piano and handbells. The video to the side of this article is a recording of Garton playing "Clair de Lune." As the sound from the final notes rang out and died away, there was a pause as the audience let the music sink in before breaking into applause.

When asked how she came to take up the handbells, Garton explained that she joined a church handbell choir in the '70s and by the time she retired in 1992, she had her own handbells. "I quit cooking and cleaning my house, and now I play with my bells all day," she said, smilingly.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Upcoming events at Lincoln's own Lied Center for Performing Arts

The Lied Center's Artistic Director, Ann Chang, makes sure that each season "represents all the genres, Classical, family, dance, Jazz, Broadway, theater, and popular, as well as making sure that they are all programmed well with quality and class.” As the Lied Center opens its 22nd season in Lincoln, all the genres are present and there is surely something to please everyone.
The first show is the fast-selling, and already sold-out, "Bill Cosby - Live at the Lied," wherein famed comedian Bill Cosby comes to Lincoln. Lincolnites are planning to turn out in huge numbers to greet this legend whose life lessons and laughs entertained families for years through "The Cosby Show." Bill Cosby is set to come to the Lied Center on October 7th, at 7:30pm.

In the dance category, Lincoln can see Pilobolus Dance Theatre on October 12th, Moulin Rouge - The Ballet will come on April 1st, and Ragamala will bring their dance to Lincoln on April 11th.

Family and theater shows include Local Wonders from Nebraska's own U.S. Poet Laureate, Ted Kooser, Tomas Kubinek, The Shape of a Girl, The Ugly Duckling, and more. While Broadway shows include Beauty and the Beast, Young Frankenstein, and MAMMA MIA!

Jazz musicians and groups include the Turtle Island Quartet, Tiempo Libre, and the SFJAZZ COLLECTIVE - The Music of Stevie Wonder featuring some of the greatest Jazz musicians of today... and tomorrow.
Classical musicians coming to the Lied Center inlude the Munich Symphony Orchestra, Kathryn Stott, and the legendary, Itzhak Perlman.

Want to know what's coming up at the Lied Center this season? Subscribe to the Lincoln Lied Center Examiner to get advance, exclusive reports on who and what to look forward to as well, and check back often for reviews on some of the great shows coming to Lincoln this season!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Kimball Recital Hall and the UNL School of Music to present free events in 2011

The School of Music offers most of its events at the Kimball Recital Hall (KRH) located at 11th and R streets on the UNL city campus. KRH, with a main floor and balcony, seats 850 audience members. Music majors are always to be found in attendance, but other members of the Lincoln community should take advantage of it as well.

The first recital being given this season takes place on Tuesday, August 30th, in KRH at 7:30pm. The talented and entrepreneurial pianist, Ann Chang, is giving this recital. Besides having performed in various cities in the US, Chang has performed abroad at such places as Spain, The Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Russia, Croatia and Argentina. Her recital is a not-too-be-missed performance.

In the month of September, free-admission faculty recitals will feature some of the following: mezzo-soprano Kate Butler on Friday, September 9th; Jonah Sirota, violist, on September 15th; Kevin Hanrahan, tenor, on September 22nd; Scott Anderson, trombone, September 27th, and William McMullen, oboe, on September 29th. All of those recitals are on the dates specified at 7:30pm in KRH. On Sunday, September 18th, Clark Potter, viola, will give a recital at 3:00pm in KRH

One other special recital will be given by the Chiara String Quartet, Artists-in-Residence at the School of Music, will take place on Tuesday, September 20th at 7:30pm in KRH and will cost $20 for adults, $10 for seniors, and $5 for students. This recital is well worth the price and enjoyable for all ages as the Chiara Quartet make the music come alive.

For more information visit the School of Music website.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Back to school with Music for students in financial need

Jessica Freeman, treasurer for LMTA, is excited about the opportunity for people in the community to help contribute to the Music Outreach Program. Because of “an anonymous donor who wanted to support the Music Outreach Program,” LMTA is looking for a matching gift of $5000 from the community. “Any amount will help and all you need to do to donate is contact treasurer@lmta.info.”

The anonymous donor “thought that starting an endowment would be the best way to keep giving. It can continue growing, through investment. And $10,000 is the minimum to start the investment and earn money through it.” The endowment will be called “M.U.S.I.C. which stands for Music for UnderServed Interested Children.” The finance committee for LMTA thought that this matching program would “allow the whole community to contribute. No one will know how much you gave, but you will be recognized in the LMTA year book and be a part of an ongoing effort to bring music to children in need.”

The Music Outreach Program “helps provide lessons for financially in need students. Students who are eligible for free lunch pay $5 for a month of lessons. Those eligible for reduced lunch pay $20 per month, and the teacher teaches them 4 lessons a month and gets paid $60 per month. This does create a gap in need of funding which is supported by fundraising, some grants from the Lincoln area, and donations from Dietze Music. Now, hopefully this endowment will become an ongoing means of financial assistance for the program. Students also get free instruments and music donated from music stores for their studies.”

LMTA believes that students who receive mentoring in the form of lessons will eventually become good citizens and philanthropists, and Freeman states that the “Music Outreach Program contributes to the community because when students are the beneficiaries of programs like these, they will give back when they reach adulthood and positions of influence. Studies also show that music helps develop skills that are useful in school.”

So, if you are ready to become part of the M.U.S.I.C. Endowment, Freeman has this advice: “Send checks to Lincoln Community Foundation or to me, by contacting treasurer@lmta.info. You can become a member of the endowment at any time, but if you want to become a charter member donate by August 24th, send me your name and donation amount, and attend the luncheon at the Governor’s Mansion at 11:30 (lunch cost is $10). There is also a speech by Dr. Valerie Cisler, Professor of Music and Chair of the Department of Music and Performing Arts at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. She will speak on “Music Mastery = Motivation”, a look at the impact of student mastery of practice and performance skills on motivation.”
Help Lincoln students with a donation to the M.U.S.I.C. Endowment to bring music to students in the community!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Past and present students share memories from SAIL Music Camp

SAIL Camp is in its 27th year of introducing music to Lincoln students, and students new and old want to keep coming back. The week of July 25th was first session, while the second session is coming to a close this week of August 1-5th. Jessica Dussault first attended SAIL the summer before she entered fourth grade, the next two summers she came back to play in the second session and in the honors orchestra. “I had a blast every year,” she said. She also says that SAIL gave her a huge head start on learning the cello. What normally takes months to learn, with SAIL camp, “the process is compressed into just one week.”
Dussault was later a recipient of a generous scholarship from SAIL Camp as she headed to the University of Nebraska at Lincoln to study music. She said that this demonstrates “yet another way that the organization is dedicated to encouraging students to continue playing throughout their lives.” This year, she filled the role of “lieutenant” or teacher for the first time. She’s come full circle, “I was a bit nervous to be a teacher this year, starting kids on the cello alongside the same local musicians who once taught me how to play, but it has been a really great experience.” By the end of the week, you know that “everything the fourth graders know is something that they've been taught by you.” With the fifth graders who are at all different levels, Dussault said she “spent a lot of time talking about the audition process for YES (the Youth Ensemble of Strings), famous cellists, and playing musical games in order to keep everyone excited about camp, even though they were all at different levels of playing ability.

Deanna Steward already knew that SAIL was a great experience since her son had attended a few years ago, and this year, her daughter, Kara, was excited to attend for the first time. Kara, who was learning cello, loved the games, gym, and Mozart Money. When asked what she thought of SAIL, Kara excitedly said: “It was awesome!” and she can’t wait to go back next year. Kara was also excited that although she had simply been learning how to pluck the strings, but by the end of the week, she had learned bow-hold and “didn’t even have to look at my strings anymore.” She thought that playing the pieces was really exciting because she felt like she knew them so well by the end of camp.

Deanna liked the experience “very much,” and she likes that SAIL is “motivating for kids to see other kids doing this same thing and working together to create really cool music...she gets a little boost seeing other people doing the same thing.” With a smile, she said “I wish I could have done that when I was her age!”

Much like Kara’s first experience, Dussault remembers her first year at SAIL: “I can clearly remember two specific memories from when I was a fourth grader starting out on cello. I recall being extremely frustrated in class trying to put my fingers down on the strings AND move the bow in the right direction AND play on the correct string without overlapping others, but by the end of the camp suddenly it wasn't so hard after all! I also remember saving my Mozart Money and Copland Cash up so I could buy all sorts of dolphin key chains and fun things. I still have a toy lizard that I bought ten years ago hanging out in a potted plant.”

Whether or not the students choose to go on in music, they have learned important skills for life through SAIL with the focus needed to learn their instrument and learn to work together to make music! This is an experience that lasts through their life.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Strings Alliance in Lincoln introduces music to grade schoolers

SAIL Camp is not about sailing or the sea, it is about music and is a wonderful program in Lincoln dedicated to bringing a little music into student's lives during the summer. It is brought to Lincoln students by the Lincoln Public School system, and Mike Swartz, currently the director of the program, shares a little of the camp's history and exciting possibilities for the students.
What is SAIL Camp?
SAIL Music Camp is a summer day camp for students wishing to learn to play or improve on their stringed instrument. In the first few years of its existence, SAIL was for brand new beginners only. As the camp gained in popularity and size we expanded to 2 sessions. Session 1 was for beginners and session 2 for students with 1 to 2 years of experience. The curriculum was modified to allow for this change. After a few more years we found that middle school students wanted to continue to come to SAIL but were too old and experienced for Session 2. At that point, (I think it was 1993) I created the Honors Orchestra. This group is for students from 6th to 9th grade and plays much more advanced music.

What was the inspiration for SAIL Camp?
Our founder was Phoebe Hamaan. Phoebe was very active in the Sigma Alpha Iota professional music fraternity for women and SAIL was first envisioned as an "outreach project" for the fraternity. The acronym "SAIL" comes from sigma alpha iota and stand for "Strings Alliance in Lincoln." Once the acronym was decided it was easy to develop a camp where we are all "Sailors on the Sea of Song" with students divided into "fish schools" such as "guppies", "minnows" etc. I am the "Captain" of the ship and my teachers are "Lieutenants" with our high school helpers who are "Interns". In the first years, the Parks & Recreation Department provided the facilities for free, LPS provided the instruments and transportation for them, and SAI provided volunteers to do everything except actually teach the classes. From the beginning instructors were paid. As the camp evolved we became too large for Parks and Rec. so LPS picked up the facilities as well. As we have grown and grown we have kept the founding principles that Phoebe envisioned but have modified camp to become more efficient and self-supporting.

How many years since SAIL camp began? How many students would you say have attended?
SAIL Music Camp is in its 27th year! In its infancy there were no computers and records have a way of getting lost. I know the first year there were 34 campers. This year there are 376! For the last 15 years there have been at least 350 per year and that alone would make 5250! I would guestimate the total number near to 7000.

Can you share one specific memory or time that you saw music really move and take hold of a young student’s heart and mind?
There are so many students that have been moved deeply by their camp experiences that this a really tough one. We have had many of our high school student teacher interns that have decided to go into teaching after their SAIL experience--not all in music--but they just found that they loved to teach kids! One that may stand out is a camper (and former private student of mine) named Erik Higgins. When he was in third grade he declared that he was going to be a bass player. After his SAIL experience and other experiences both in school and out he worked extremely hard (and was brilliant). At the age of 14, he won the International Society of Bassists worldwide competition for 14 and under. At 17, he won the American String Teachers Association National Competition for Double Bass. He currently is residing in Germany as a professional bassist.
SAIL Music Camp had a week session for southern Lincoln and one for northern Lincoln this year which were from July 25-29 and August 1-5. You can read and find out more at the SAIL website.