It has taken years of devoted practise, sore fingers running up and down those unrelenting scales, constant tunings, but it’s been worth it for a group of young North Okanagan musicians.
Four students of Vernon music instructors Ken and Carol Stromberg are about to haul their instruments to Chilliwack at the end of the month to compete in the Performing Arts BC Provincial Music Festival.
Each musician qualified by receiving top marks in their respective divisions at various music festivals in the region.
To prepare them for the Provincials, Stromberg Studio is inviting the public to an evening of musical classics performed by the award-winning musicians: violinists Alyshia Black and Nicole Michalewicz, cellist Mark Casson, and pianist Melanie Shum, Saturday at All Saints Anglican Church.
The concert will feature the repertoire the students are planning to perform for the adjudicators as they compete with fellow regional winners from all over the province.
Black, a 17-year-old home-schooled student from Enderby, has been playing violin for the past seven years.
“I have always loved the violin,” she said, adding she will perform Max Bruch’s Concerto no. 2 in D minor and Nigun by Ernest Bloch at the Provincials and the recital.
Also in the piano trio, 3tissimo, with Shum and Casson, together they will perform Beethoven’s Sonata no. 1 Op. 1 in E flat major and Verano Porteno by Astor Piazzolla.
Casson, a 19-year-old multi-instrumentalist from Spallumcheen, describes the two pieces as polar opposites.
“I’m practising one-to-two hours a day in preparation for the Provincials,” he said.
Studying the cello for the past 11 years, Casson started his music education with the violin at the age of five and then added the piano when he was eight.
Home schooled, along with his seven siblings, he completed his Grade 10 Royal Conservatory Music piano exam last summer, and is working on his Grade 10 RCM cello exam, which he hopes to complete next year.
“What motivates me was my mother up to last year. That’s when I finally learned to appreciate music and do it because I enjoy it,” he said.
Shum, a 16-year-old W.L. Seaton Secondary student who has been playing piano for approximately nine years, says her motivation is the feedback and compliments she receives from festival adjudicators and others.
“It makes me feel like all my hard work is paying off,” said Shum, who will also perform Nocturne in E-flat Major Op. 36 No. 4 by Gabriel Fauré and Toccata by Pierre Sancan as her solos.
“A big part of my motivation comes from my piano teacher, Carol Stromberg. Without her help and encouragement I never would have made it this far. I would like to give a big thank you to her and Mr. Stromberg for being the best music teachers I have ever had.”
Michalewicz, who is 14 years old and in Grade 9 at Vernon Christian School, will perform the violin works of Anton Stamitz.
She first started violin when she was six years old and living in Calgary. A year after moving to Vernon with her family seven years ago, she began studying with Ken Stromberg.
Michalewicz has been playing in festivals for around five years and this is the first year she has been nominated to represent Kelowna at the B.C. Provincial Music Festival.
She also performs at her church, school, and has been in the YSO (Youth Symphony of the Okanagan) for two seasons now.
For the last two years, Michalewicz has been able to go to the Summer Strings Academy in Victoria. Last July she had the opportunity to study with Michael van der Sloot and Kathryn Ranger.
The public can support these local music students at their May 18 concert at All Saints Anglican Church, located at 3205-27th St. The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. and admission is by donation.