Twice a year, Summit High School (SHS) music students get to experience the music industry first-hand thanks to pianist Rieko Aizawa and Grammy-nominated violinist Jesse Mills. The musicians return to the high school today to talk about music as a career and to play and discuss the work of classical composers.
"It helps the students to hear musicians of this caliber performing live," said Linda Shea, director of instrumental music at SHS. "They always present their workshops in a way that is 'up close and personal' and very informative as well. It's always a learning experience for the students, whether they learn more about the composers of the pieces being presented or the instruments that are being played or just what it takes to play at such a high level like Rieko and Jesse do."
Aizawa and Mills have been the artistic directors of the Alpenglow Chamber Music Festival since 2010, and members of the festival since its start in 1998. Held annually in September, the festival features a series of public chamber music concerts as well as soirees in private homes. Workshops have been hosted for more than a decade to foster arts appreciation in the community via outreach to younger generations.
According to spokesperson Barbara Vandeventer, one of the workshops' benefits is the interaction between high school students and music professionals. "Just the fact that they're there makes the students forget about the 'awe' factor for them being renowned. The students are just in awe with their technique, of course," she said.
"Rieko and Jesse are world-class musicians and these students are so lucky to have a chance to hear them twice a year for each year of high school," Shea said. "These musicians are also some of the nicest people I've ever met so it is very comfortable to have them here at our school where the students feel like they can ask any questions and not feel out of place for not knowing something already. We always look forward to their performances."
Tonight, Aizawa and Mills also will perform a concert for Alpenglow Chamber Music Festival supporters in a private home in Silverthorne.