Bringing the Wonder of Baroque to Bozeman
Place: Bozeman, Big Sky, and Livingston, Mont.
Project: Baroque Music Montana concert series and community workshop
Dates: July 26–30
Participants: Violinist Carrie Krause (MM ’15, historical performance), cellist Caroline Nicolas (Graduate Diploma ’15, historical performance), lutenist Kevin Payne (Graduate Diploma ’14, historical performance), second-year harpsichordist Evan Kory
As a violinist in a rural Montana ski town, I find there is quite a lot of room to create music for a generous and intriguing community. But as a Baroque violinist in particular, I found that feeling of “room” getting a whole lot bigger this summer.
I moved to this idyllic spot five years ago to live a physically active and balanced life and be the concertmaster of the Bozeman Symphony. The process of piecing together a musical life with the nearest major city more than a six-hour drive away has proven an enriching adventure. It’s been possible due to a love of doing many different things—studio teacher, chamber musician, artistic director, symphony concertmaster, and period musician.
There’s a great sense of excitement in bringing period instruments and a new way of music making to an audience that would not otherwise hear it. As the only professional period-instrument player in a multistate area, I’ve found Bozeman to be a frontier for early music in which I’ve found the opportunity to share music, musicians, and musical stories with a community of people I care deeply about. Baroque music resonates with audiences for its sense of intimacy, personality, elegance, and folk-like qualities as well as for its tunes meant to be played in small spaces with a sense of wonder and discovery.
With the help of Juilliard Summer Grants and other supporters, Baroque Music Montana was launched this summer. With an ensemble of Juilliard classmates, we played in a wheat field, at the base of the continent’s largest downhill ski peak (covered with fresh snow in July) looming behind the harpsichord, and in the town of Livingston—the first time period instruments were heard in Park County, Montana. Although the Livingston concert was the least glamorous—we bonded with goats instead of patrons before this concert—it was the musicians’ favorite for the gratitude, excitement, and curiosity from our patrons, who spent the hour after the performance asking questions and tinkling the harpsichord. Part of our postconcert talk was about the question of good taste that raged back in the day between Baroque French and Italians—we asked our audiences to vote their views, which generated some lively discussion.
Although the concerts were marvelous in themselves, they also served a larger purpose: as an advertisement for a workshop. Next summer, Baroque Music Montana will expand to include a three-day summer seminar for professionals and students on modern instruments in addition to the concert series. It’s remarkable to have local musicians clamoring for training in period performance, and even more so to be able to answer their call. —Carrie Krause (MM ’15, historical performance) is the concertmaster of the Bozeman Symphony.
Finding the Joy of Exploration In El Salvador
Place: Suchitoto, El Salvador
Project: Teaching at Centro Art para la Paz
Dates: May 20–31
Participants: Third-year dancers Angela Falk, Riley O’Flynn, Amanda Bouza
In Angela Falk’s sophomore year, she and her family spent a few weeks traveling through El Salvador, including two nights in the colonial village of Suchitoto, an artistic hub of the country. A business owner told her the about the Centro Arte para la Paz, a local school, and Angela wrote, “from the moment I stepped onto the school’s grounds, I knew I wanted to return.” With the help of a Juilliard Summer Grant, she and two classmates, all of whom are now third-year dancers, took a Spanish-immersion class and then taught classes and helped out at the Centro, whose mission is to provide an outlet for local youth and an alternative to the gangs and poverty that plague El Salvador. The Juilliard students wrote about their experience in blogs and emails, some of which are excerpted here.
Amanda Bouza You would think growing up in a Cuban family in Miami would make me cómoda (comfortable) speaking Spanish, but in reality me da pena (I’m embarrassed). Once we arrived in Suchitoto, though, I realized everyone is grateful to see a gringa trying to speak their language rather than being judgmental as I fumble for the right words. My favorite thing about our language school, Pájaro Flor, is its calm environment. Placed on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Lake of Suchitoto, it’s as if you are in the middle of paradise. The birds are chirping, there’s a fresh breeze constantly brushing against your skin. —Amanda Bouza, who’s from Miami, holds Michael Paul Grace II, Ruth Katzman, and Martha Hill scholarships.
Riley O’Flynn Growing up, I was typically one of the few boys in a dance class overflowing with girls. This is my first time teaching in another country, and my first trip to Central America, and I was incredibly surprised by the number of young men that have come to our dance classes at the Centro so far. While the size of the class has varied, there have been an equal number of girls and boys, if not more boys, in each class. While some of the boys may try and play it cool at times, I can tell that they enjoy what they’re doing. Especially since we’re teaching in a country where the machismo culture is strong, it was a beautiful thing to see so many young men in a dance class. Our dance students in Suchitoto have been open, receptive, and gracious learners. There’s a variety of ages within the group and none of these students has the same dance experience, if any dance experience at all. We’re throwing a lot of difficult movement at them, movement that’s completely foreign to them, and while they may not be able to fully embody the material, they approach the class with bright eyes and open hearts. Our classes have been filled with laughter, and while they work hard, they don’t take anything too seriously. Each day I feel as though I am learning something new about these kids, as well as myself. —Riley O’ Flynn, who’s from San Francisco, holds Andrew Willoughby and Lester R. and Doris S. Benjamin scholarships.
Angela Falk I used to practice my dancing with the performance in mind, and come showtime, I was eager to get on stage and demonstrate what I’d been taught in class. Yet in Suchitoto, my perspective has definitely changed. We’ve been teaching a group of middle school students that has shifted slightly each day. One day, we taught a small group of middle school boys, and as the day went on, we found ourselves veering from our detailed lesson plan covering a foundation of basic ballet and modern skills, and instead playing movement games and leading blindfolded partners through obstacle courses. I felt slightly guilty for not covering all of the technical material, yet watching these preteen boys working together to accomplish a difficult task—finding new ways through the obstacle course—has made all of us laugh, and I’m realizing that this is the lesson: there’s no curriculum we need to follow or requirements we need to fulfill here. The entire goal of the trip was to connect with these students and find alternative ways to communicate with each other. They don’t need to perfect their pointed feet or arabesques—and the most important thing for us is to approach each task with an open mind and find the joy in the exploration. The students are surely teaching us that, and I think it’s a mindset that we can bring back to our classes and rehearsals at Juilliard. —Angela Falk is from San Francisco.
Bringing Classical Music to Montserrat
Project: Montserrat Music Project
Dates: August 19-September 2
Participants: Second-year master’s violist Molly Goldman, second-year master’s cellist Julia Henderson, Ravenna Lipchik (MM ’15, violin), Robyn Quinnett (BM ’12, MM ’14, violin), Anton Rist (BM ’13, MM ’15, clarinet)
Ever since we met at Aspen in 2011, Robyn Quinnett (BM ’12, MM ’14, violin) has been telling me about Montserrat, the Caribbean island where she was raised but hadn’t been since a 1995 volcanic eruption destroyed two-thirds of it. We’d talked about doing some sort of outreach in Montserrat, but it was only about a year ago, when we were finally living in the same city (I was at Juilliard and she’d started her doctorate at SUNY Stony Brook), that I got an email about Juilliard Summer Grants and we decided to pursue our dream, which we realized with the help of friends and colleagues, a Juilliard Summer Grant and other grants, private donations, and a wonderful local liaison once we arrived and started making the Montserrat Music Festival a reality. (Among the other people who were hugely helpful were Herman Francis, Edwin Rist, and Lawrence Quinnett.)
The festival began with a series of performances—one at a nursing home, one at the Montserrat Cultural Center, and one an exchange with local musicians—which we were told were the first classical concerts ever on the island. For the second part of the festival, cultural exchange, we wanted to take advantage of every opportunity to learn about Montserrat, so we visited the Soufrière Hills volcano, which had caused so much damage 20 years earlier. We saw sea turtles laying eggs, bonded with wild iguanas and chickens, visited museums, met with government officials, and took steel-pan classes—we even performed two pieces on steel pan at our final concert.
The most meaningful part ended up being a camp, in which we provided classical music workshops and instrumental lessons for 50 local children. That might not seem like a big number, but there are only 5,000 people on the whole island! While there is rich music education in Montserrat schools, it focuses on the music of their culture—calypso, string band, steel pan, etc.—which meant we were basically introducing classical music. In the U.S., I’m always coming across questions about the relevance or importance of classical music, so it was great to have the opportunity to have a clean slate to share why classical music is amazing and meaningful.
One interesting thing that happened was toward the end of our stay, when several of us met with some of the most powerful people on the island. They let us know that while they were in full support of our continuing our work, we have to change our name as music festivals in the Caribbean are huge parties with dancers and singers and food that are held when work and school are not in session. So now, we are formally and officially the Montserrat Music Project—and we can’t wait for what the future holds. —Molly Goldman, who’s from Beachwood, Ohio, is the recipient of an LCU Foundation Grant and an Irene Diamond Graduate Fellowship. She also holds Romayne Leader Frank Charitable Foundation and Edward John Noble Foundation scholarships.