New crop of students promise spark for School of Music in 2012

Yemi Falodun | Staff Writer

This summer marks another season of brilliant and determined musical talents, set on honing their skills, coming together to build relationships for now and the future.

The transition from a world away to Chautauqua can be difficult for the 149 School of Music students who hail from various parts of the globe and bring with them different gifts and levels of mastery.

But there are remedies for that.

“In their college studies, you can bet they don’t get anything like the focus of three, four thousand people in the Amphitheater looking at them on a Monday night,” said Oliver Dow, the School of Music managing director, about the incoming students.

The Piano Play-In, the students’ first big group meeting, is at 2:30 p.m. today in Sherwood-Marsh Studios. Students play for three to four minutes to showcase their skills and to give faculty an idea of what needs work.

“There can be a lot of tension because the students are anxious about their place and where they fit in,” Nikki Melville, piano faculty member, said about the ice-breaker. “It’s a very nice musical-social event.”

Similarly, the Voice Program Sing-In is 1–3 p.m. Tuesday in McKnight Hall, where all the Voice Program students show off their chops and get familiar with one another and the faculty.

“This is a time where those people who want to do this make up their mind,” said Marlena Malas, Voice Program chair. The 44 students will now find out what they can do and more, after having survived the initial audition round with 300 of their peers.

“It has been said that this is a gold mine of young singers,” Malas said, a voice veteran of more than 30 years.

But the School of Music, also known as the Chautauqua Music Festival, holds much more. Some highlights include guests such as composer Ricky Ian Gordon, cellist Jolyon Pegis, the opera performance of The Elixir of Love, the annual Piano Competition and returning Chautauquan violinist and 2011 Sigma Alpha Iota winner Laura Park’s solo concert.

“People can expect six really exciting concerts,” said Timothy Muffitt, the Music School Festival Orchestra’s music director and conductor. One more concert was added this year. The change, though welcomed, comes with its own set of hurdles.

“The big challenge is creating an orchestra from scratch,” Muffitt said. In what seems like one tick of a clock’s second hand, Muffitt and other faculty must refine and unite the 82 instrumentalists.

Still, the School of Music members are eager to provide an enthralling soundtrack and moving art to this summer.