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Be an In-School Mentor

Who can be a mentor? You can! Kids need real people with real experience to help them realize their  [ ... ]

PEI Genealogical Society meeting

The next meeting of the PEI Genealogical Society will be held November 17, 2–4 pm, at Beaconsfield [ ... ]

For Everyone to Hear

by Andrea Ledwell

Cheryl Landry has a lot to think about these days. As a graduating clarinet major in the UPEI music department she is preparing for her senior recital. This is a prestigious opportunity the department offers to its best students in their junior and senior years.

Cheryl is also getting prepared to continue studies in music and exploring the options available to her following graduation in the spring.

She and Dawn Parmiter, a senior soprano, will both be having recitals this march as well as juniors Kelley Carpenter and Jolene Robbins.

Options for these young women have certainly increased in the last hundred years or so. All four women are in the lucky position of being able to explore a variety of career options in the field of music-both in education and performance.

"UPEI's music program is certainly more focussed on music education," says Landry who started the program thinking that she would become an instrumental teacher. Given the number of performance opportunities at UPEI, Landry discovered that she was interested in that aspect of music too. "I am certainly thinking about pursuing studies in education next year, but I am also applying for performance programs, " As a clarinetist, Landry sees possibilities for orchestral and chamber work in the future.

It was not that long ago that career options were limited for women in music. While music may have always been readily encouraged as a suitable endeavour for women, viable career choices included being an at-home instructor or perhaps an elementary school music teacher or choir director.

Being a professional musician, for women, was not encouraged or else the opportunities for women to perform were restricted to the prodigious singers, piaanists and players of delicate instruments.

Orchestral performance was such a male-oriented profession that women eventually created their own opportunities for performance through the creation of women's orchestras. And there is the infamous Vienna orchestra which has held out, at the criticism of everyone else on earth, and does not let women play with the group as it believes that they would be too much of a distraction for the men.

But Cheryl Landry feels that there is a fairly even playing ground for women in music-at least in North America. With screened preliminary orchestral auditions, increased numbers of high profile female composers, conductors and teachers, her main consideration is that her playing ability be at a performance level. And that is how it should be.

Cheryl Landry's senior recital will be held Saturday, March 11. A senior recital, featuring soprano Dawn Parmiter will be held Saturday, March 18. A junior recital featuring Kelley Carpenter, saxophone, will be held Thursday, March 9. Junior pianist, Jolene Robbins will be performing Thursday, March 23.

All recitals will be held at the UPEI Dr. Steel Recital Hall at 8 pm. Admission is free.

Classical Pursuits

Early 21st century music: Symphony concert features new Canadian works plus golden oldies

by Andrea Ledwell

The end of the 20th century marks the conclusion of an exciting, though sometimes volatile, time in the world of music. Music historians are scurrying from radio to newspaper interview discussing the significance of the century's musical output.

The 20th century for Canadian music was one of incredible growth. Our country was barren, musically, until the birth of organizations and institutions like the Canadian League of Composers and the Canadian Music Centre in mid-century assisted in the development of a country rich in talented and prolific performers and composers.

The PEI Symphony Orchestra is celebrating the turn of the century in a concert that will give an indication of the amazing pool of young talent we currently have in this country. It will feature an up-and-coming violin-piano team, Duo Concertante, that will be performing a new work they commissioned by an equally talented young Canadian composer, Andrew P. MacDonald.

Duo Concertante is violinist Nancy Dahn and pianist Timothy Steeves. Since forming their duo in 1996, these Memorial University faculty members have been receiving rave reviews for performances in the Atlantic region and beyond and were nominated for an East Coast Music Award for their debut recording A Deux, released in 1998.

The two will be performing with the PEI Symphony on February 20 in a concert entitled "Time Travel." The concert will feature the duo performing Juno award winning composer, Andrew MacDonald's Concerto for Violin and Piano that will have its world premiere in St. John's just two days before the Charlottetown performance.

It is a significant statement that Duo Concertante opts to perform new Canadian works rather than only the old standards. Canadian music has matured in the last 50 years, and it is not necessary to slot Canadian compositions in the opening five minutes of an orchestral performance. New Canadian works can be the main feature of a concert. The overwhelming success of the Winnipeg New Music Festival is proof of this.

With Canadian performers like Duo Concertante recognizing the wealth of the Canadian composition scene, and through the combined talents of composer and performer, we can expect a bright future for 21st century Canadian music.

The PEISO concert will also feature compositions from another century, with Schubert's Unfinished Symphony and Beethoven's Symphony No. 2-both from the early 19th century-in a concert which will be held at 2:30 on Sunday, February 20.

Music Opens the Mind

by Andrea Ledwell

A recent article in the Globe and Mail discussed a study on the possible influence of music on the brain, specifically for problem-solving skills-yet another study showing the positive impact of music in our lives.

This particular five-year study with children showed that keyboard training in music (i.e. piano lessons) improved skills that require mental imagery. The results of the study coincide with recent research that suggests that music is a form of intelligence and not just a manifestation of it.

There are oodles of studies out there and they all come to the same conclusion, music education is a good thing, especially for children.

A brochure published by the Coalition for Music Education in Canada points out the many ways in which music education can enhance people's lives, improving problem-solving skills, memory, concentration and co-ordination as well as developing creativity and self-expression. Studies also show that people who have studied music are more likely to score higher in university entrance exams.

Oddly enough, though, as all these statistics pour in, it seems that people setting school curriculums don't care. Music, like other areas of arts education, continues to be cut, in budget and time, simply because it is not seen as an essential area of study.

If a student opts not to join band in grade seven, it is quite possible that he or she will not have the opportunity to study music past grade nine. School band programs can't include everyone. And what probably happens is that it's the children whose parents are already aware of the importance of a good music education who get a good music education. Kids in band are often the ones who have already been to piano lessons and get taken to the odd concert.

Those who lose are the children who are the least likely to take private music instruction-the children whose parents may not be aware of the advantages their children would gain from studying music.

If only it were a question of desire, and that pointing out the advantages in giving your child the best music education possible, would create the opportunity for that to happen. Unfortunately, it always comes down to money. Private music instruction costs money, and if you are going to do it well it may cost a significant amount of money.

Given the overwhelming support for the value of music in young people's lives, it is necessary that greater incentives exist for parents to give their child music early in life. How about tax breaks for music lessons? Or letting kids use Royal Conservatory exams for credit in high school? How about subsidizing private music lessons for low-income families? And creating a better general music curriculum in the high schools. Why not create more opportunities for professional orchestras and chamber groups to come to PEI? How about classical concerts for school children? Why not encourage parents to take their children to music performances?

It makes sense to me. But then, I took piano lessons.

Holiday Fairytales

by Andrea Ledwell

Every Christmas season, the PEI Symphony sets aside the usual seriousness of orchestral repertoire and puts together a concert program that is intended to be fun and entertaining for the young and young at heart.

This year in its Family Holiday concert on December 12, the PEISO will be exploring the land of fairytales through music and dance. The eclectic concert program which includes Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite, some Bach, Leroy Anderson's Sleigh Ride and its annual Christmas sing-song will also feature thirty young dancers from PEI's dance umbrella in a performance of Ravel's Mother Goose Suite.

Maurice Ravel loved children and related well to them. He originally composed The Mother Goose Suite as gift for his friends' children-as a piano suite for four hands. The Suite, which was later orchestrated, includes the stories of Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, Tom Thumb and the Empress of the Pagodas.

Choreographer and dance umbrella director, Peggy Reddin, has spent many months preparing for this performance. "I started listening to the music last August," says Reddin, who has taken excerpts from the Suite to tell condensed versions of each story. It has been a new challenge for Reddin, who has often choreographed excerpts from The Nutcracker Suite to perform with the orchestra. "This music is much different from the Nutcracker. It is impressionistic, so it requires the dancers to take the overall feeling of the story into their bodies."

The stories will be performed with the connecting narrative of Mother Goose who, in folklore, was the keeper of stories as well as the geese. The short vignettes of the fairytales will be like "a conversation" that will encapsulate the story of each.

"This is a wonderful program to feature in the holiday concert," says Reddin who feels that The Mother Goose Suite will definitely appeal to the imagination of audience members. "Fairytales are perfect for Christmas, as the basic theme of each of these stories is to look with the heart and not with the eyes."

The theme of fairyland will be carried over into the orchestral program for the holiday concert, particularly in the familiar Peer Gynt Suite. Audience members are likely to feel that they have left the theatre and entered the deep dark forest, if they haven't with the Ravel, when the orchestra performs familiar pieces from Peer Gynt like "In the Hall of the Mountain King' and "Morning Mood."

The forest won't seem so gloomy once the orchestra breaks into the popular Sleigh Ride by Leroy Anderson-a much-loved piece played often by orchestras during the holiday season.

The December symphony program will finish off with the annual caroling that allows the audience a once-a-year opportunity to perform with a full orchestra. Be sure not to miss this popular seasonal event.

The PEI Symphony Family Holiday performance will be held at Confederation Centre of the Arts on December 12 at 2:30 pm. Tickets are available at the Confederation Centre Box Office.

Events Calendar

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