During rehearsals for Kindred Spirits Orchestra’s performance of the Messiah (December 15, 2012) Mezzo-soprano soloist, Claudia Lemcke was able to devote some time to the orchestra’s vibrant musical education outreach program. Arranged by the orchestra, Claudia led a Masterclass with selected students in the school’s Arts Unionville Choral Program taught by Sarah Fabro.
Kindred Spirit News and Views spoke to Jeff Wrigglesworth, Head of Music at Unionville High School. He shared that the school has a music magnet program that draws students from across Markham and Stouffville with a special interest in music. Music students at Unionville HS are able to participate in a band program, orchestra program, choral program and/or piano program. In addition to music offered as an arts option, Unionville Highschool is the home of the Arts Unionville program, a program offering 8 specialized courses for talented students in drama, dance, visual arts and music. Students are selected on the basis of application and audition. Participants in the masterclass were chosen from the choral class of the Arts Unionville program–all highly achieving and motivated choral students.
In such a busy music program, it’s hard for teachers to make time for special events like this masterclass. KSO News and Views asked “What do professional artists contribute to the music program through presentations and masterclasses?”
“Students considering careers in the Arts are able to gain insights, not only into their art form, but also into the lives of professional artists, and valuable tips on further education and career planning.” Jeff Wrigglesworth also noted that, “Partnering with a community orchestra like KSO also is an encouragement to students who love music but are planning careers in other fields. They are able to see that there are opportunities to play at a very high level, use the talents they are developing and contribute to the community’s cultural life without being a professional musician. It’s good for students to know that there are options, that they can still play even if they do not make the Toronto Symphony. ” He also noted that teachers understood that it is part of the mandate of arts organization to contribute to educational outreach as a condition of some funding programs, so this was a two-way partnership and the school was very happy to be able to partner with arts organizations wherever and whenever possible, mentioning that sometimes a fit could not be found due to the school schedule. Another way that Unionville HS has partnered with KSO in the past was offering student jazz ensembles the opportunity of playing at orchestra receptions and special events.
Vocal teacher Sarah Fabro was pleased that the masterclass reinforced the solid technique that students were learning in her program, as well as being individually guided. Both participating students and members of the class observing were energized by this session.
KSO will be keeping in regular touch with the school to develop our next educational outreach session at Unionville HS.