BACK, from left: Chris Morrison, Jean-Francois Cornoir, Rosalee Morrison, Carsten Rubeling, Derrick Milton, Susie Craven (teacher), FRONT, from left: Mary Warden, Mathew McDermand, Ethan Dowdle, Hana Rogers, Thys Westerhof, Gwaiidon Duckworth-White. (Submitted photo)

Oceanside Classical Concerts holds first masterclass program, announces new scholarship

Sixth season for OCC bringing world-class artists to the community

Oceanside Classical Concerts has announced a new masterclass program and scholarship program for students.

Beethoven would be proud, Mozart ecstatic and Bach joyous – OCC has not only developed into an amazing community musical experience, but it is about to transcend itself as it evolves into its next phases.

This year marks the sixth season for the OCC and bringing world-class artists to the community; musicians who have mesmerized and entertained in amazing concerts that highlight historic masters as a well as contemporary classical composers.

“Our goal was to have outstanding musicians come to Parksville Qualicum Beach,” said David Douglas, president of the OCC. “It was a dream to see and hear the best-of-the-best in our local area and to promote music for everyone. But, it was also our goal to develop a sustainable educational funding and mentor program for students and those people who want to hone their own musical skills.”

In late February, while announcing the highlights for the 2020-21 season, Douglas announced the OCC has initiated a masterclass program and scholarship program. The first masterclass was held Feb. 20 and it involved students from Kwalikum Secondary School. Five brass musicians from the school teamed up with the Foothills Brass Quintet for a two-hour intense learning experience that involved structure, subtle techniques and applications about the instruments and working as a harmonious unit.

Each student paired up with one of the professionals and throughout the session, they received individual tutoring while having the opportunity to play alongside their mentor.

“We really learned how to breathe and appreciate how, done properly, it breaths life into the organism of the band. It was amazing,” said student Ethan Dowdle.

Carsten Rubeling, from the Foothills Quintet, used the example of a baseball player and said, “you need to breathe through the note; you can’t stop. It’s like a pitch, you wouldn’t stop part way through a throwing motion. Breathing is so essential to the flow and follow-through.”

The hands-on approach and instruction with the students, along with reinforced critique, became obvious as the masterclass progressed and by the end of the session the students and Foothills Quintet were playing together as if they had done this many times before.

Gwaiidon Duckworth, the tuba player from Kwalikum said, “it was so good to interface with another tuba player; there are so few of them. It was revealing to learn about alternate fingering, pacing and becoming part of the music.”

After rehearsing a couple of pieces, it was decided that the students would join the Foothills Quintet at the next night’s performance in front of a sold-out Oceanside Classical Concert. The culmination came when, after intermission on show night, the Kwalikum musicians joined the professionals and performed ‘Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring’, by Johann Bach. The standing ovation from the audience proved this type of program is exactly what can and will help music students as they move forward in their musical careers.

Also tabled at the third concert of the 2019-20 season was how the OCC was launching a scholarship program for high school students in the Parksville Qualicum Beach and surrounding area. Joe Straka, vice president of the OCC, indicated the scholarship is the culmination of a vision to support, promote and further musical education for those who want to study music at post-secondary schools.

A detailed plan and roll-out of the scholarship program will available through the OCC’s website and all schools in the area will be informed on how to get involved. “It’s important that we work with the schools, music teachers as well as those who teach privately to ensure no musician is missed,” said Straka.

“The significance of this scholarship is to fulfill the OCC’s vision and safeguard the future interest in music and what it means to an individual as well as a community.”

READ MORE: First year of Parksville’s subscription classical music series successful

This is the sixth season for OCC (held at Knox United Church) and a full program of for the 2020-21 season has just been announced. The new series will culminate with a salute to Beethoven’s 250th anniversary in the fall, and with a special added concert before Christmas that will be a ticketed event with all proceeds going to the scholarship program.

Future masterclass programs (that are open to all ages) are also being worked on and will be announced well in advance of their dates.

Subscription members have up until May 1, 2020 to renew their season pass. After that date, subscriptions will be open to the public.

— NEWS Staff, submitted

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