Learning From The Masters
Daily Interlake (USA)
July 30 2009
Though he was being observed by his peers, a scattering of parents and a world-class concert pianist, Will Holdhusen said he wasn’t nervous about playing during a masters class at North Valley Music School in Whitefish on Tuesday afternoon.
The 15-year-old from Whitefish played from “Warrior’s Song” by Stephen Heller for evaluation by Grace Nikae, a guest artist with this week’s Festival Amadeus in Whitefish.
“Would the military allow you to walk around with bad posture?” Nikae asked, trying to create a visual picture of the music Holdhusen was presenting. “It’s the same thing with rhythm.”
Five students of Camp Amadeus performed for Nikae, with the public also invited to listen and learn from Nikae’s enthusiastic advice. The Hawaiian-born pianist, who now lives in Madrid, Spain, played Wednesday for a chamber concert at the O’Shaughnessy Center and will be featured again Saturday in a Mozart piano concerto with the Festival Amadeus Orchestra at the Whitefish Performing Arts Center.
Festival Amadeus is a weeklong event featuring chamber and orchestra concerts of classical music, produced by the Glacier Symphony and Chorale. This is the second year for the event, which has again drawn notable guest artists from the world of classical music.
The camp, held in conjunction with the festival, provides a week of chamber music education for young string musicians, though many also are accomplished pianists.
Bass-baritone Ricardo Hererra also gave a master class, “Opera 101,” at North Valley Music School on Wednesday. Glacier Symphony music director John Zoltek said the educational component of the festival provides young music students with exposure and a rare opportunity to receive a few tips from an elite perspective.
Zoltek’s daughter, Geneva, played a bit of Bach for Nikae.
“I was excited to hear the advice of a professional,” the 14-year-old said. “She didn’t say anything new, but there were some things I hadn’t heard for a while.”
With Zoltek, Nikae concentrated on adding more dynamics, energy and rhythm to the piece.
“Did you know jazz musicians practice Bach?” Nikae said to Zoltek and the watching crowd. “Because he has this fantastic rhythm.”
Working with young pianists is natural for Nikae, 32, who makes education a key part of her life as a classical artist. Nikae, whose own career was launched by piano lessons with her mother when she was nine months old, gives musical outreach programs and does humanitarian work for UNICEF and is a musical ambassador for the U.S. Department of State.
“I enjoy doing something like this for the community,” she said of her Whitefish class. “It makes me feel like I can do something that lasts longer than the concert.”
She performed two years ago with the Glacier Symphony during its regular season and didn’t hesitate to make the long trip to the Flathead Valley for Festival Amadeus.
“John and I got along really great, so I was more than happy to come back,” Nikae said. “I’m impressed with the level of enthusiasm and support for musical education you have in this area, with this huge festival and music camp. Not so many small communities of this size have so much enthusiasm for the arts.”
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