A week from tomorrow, on Feb. 22, there will be a wonderful learning experience available for young musicians at the Reg Lenna Civic Center.
Probably the oldest learning technique in the world - and certainly one of the most effective - is to watch and listen to someone who has already mastered the skill someone wishes to learn. And, that's what's going to happen.
The Chautauqua Regional Youth Symphony will be performing at 1 p.m. on that date with a very special guest. Jamestown native Lisa Hanson Bartholow, whose gifts as a flutist are celebrated across the nation, will be performing with the young musicians. Before the concert, on Feb. 20, she will offer a master class for students of middle school age. It will last from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. That will be followed by a master class for students in high school and at Jamestown Community College, which will last from 3:45 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Lisa Hanson Bartholow
Master classes will take place at Washington Middle School, on Buffalo St., in Jamestown.
All flute students are encouraged to bring their instruments. Notices were sent to instrumental music teachers throughout the area, encouraging them to register any students who wished to play for Ms. Bartholow.
I recently spent some time on the telephone with Ms. Bartholow, and some time in conference with Nina Karbacka, who is the manager of the Youth Symphony, and I've learned some things I hope you'll find very interesting.
Before I share my discussions with them, let's cover the basic facts of the concert:
Tickets may be purchased from any member of the orchestra for $5. You may also purchase from the Reg Lenna Box Office, including immediately before the performance, for $10. The box office's phone number is 484-7070.
The Youth Orchestra has three different ensembles: The Prelude Strings, whose members are generally younger than middle school; the Young Artists Orchestra, whose members are mostly in middle school, and the select Youth Symphony, whose members are mostly in high school. All three will be performing, under the baton of their Music Director, Bryan Eckenrode.
Many readers will know Nina Karbacka because she is a teacher of stringed instruments throughout the Jamestown Public School System. She introduced the Suzuki String program, which is available through the schools, and she also teaches it in private lessons.
She is the founder of the Chautauqua Regional Youth Symphony, with which she has held many positions, currently manager. She has worked hard as a volunteer for Chautauqua Region Youth Ballet, for the Jamestown Concert Assn., and for many other community organizations.
She said recently, ''The Arts Council for Chautauqua County came across with a grant, to make it possible to hire a professional artist to perform with a learning organization. Lisa Bartholow was a member of one of my first orchestras, when she was in middle school.
''She performed as a soloist for the Jamestown Concert Assn, a few years back, and was very warmly received, and I knew she made teaching an important part of her professional life, in addition to performing, so she seemed like the perfect candidate,'' Ms. Karbacka added.
It has been 27 years since the Youth Symphony was founded. Ms. Karbacka said that teaching music requires a challenging balance. ''Everyone can make music, and you don't want to slam the door on anyone. On the other hand, some students work harder and reach a little further than others, and you need a way to offer them a way to do more. The Youth Symphony is a way of offering an opportunity for excellence,'' she said.
Looking back over more than a quarter of a century, the orchestra's founder says that they have been blessed with many talented conductors. She feels that the orchestra is presently as strong as it has ever been. ''Bryan Eckenrode is a perfect candidate for the orchestra. He's kind and he's fun to work with, but he knows music and the making of music, and he isn't afraid to insist upon professionalism.''
She reflected that Eckenrode has homes in Toronto, in Buffalo, and in Jamestown, but that even in the worst weather Chautauqua County can muster, he has never failed to be at a scheduled rehearsal on time, which she thinks is an important lesson in professionalism.
She also volunteered that Eckenrode has donated many hours from his nearly frantic schedule, to work with young musicians, especially those studying cello, which is his principal instrument of performance.
The orchestra rehearses every Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at the Reg Lenna Civic Center.
If you know a young musician who might benefit from joining the ensemble, tell him or her that as soon as the Feb. 22 concert is over, the orchestra will begin preparing for a new program, to be performed in the spring, and at that time, they will be accepting new members.
''We invite those who want to join the orchestra to attend a rehearsal, and to play along with the instrument of their choice, which gives them the chance to see if they enjoy it and are able to do it easily, or if they might want to have some more lessons and some more experience before they join,'' she said. ''After the rehearsal, we ask them to play individually for Bryan, and he can discuss with them the best way for them to participate.''
We'll share some information about a future opportunity to interact with a professional musician, later in the column.
Lisa Hanson Bartholow
When we spoke with the flutist on the telephone, she was enjoying a sunny mid-winter day in Athens, Ga., where she now makes her home, while we were listening to the wind whistle around the eaves, in yet another Chautauqua County snow storm.
Fortunately, her sunny, cheerful answers helped bring some brightness to our end of the conversation, as well.
Lisa Hanson Bartholow is the daughter of Pat and Dick Hanson, of Jamestown. She is a performer, teacher, scholar and arts administrator, specializing in the flute, piccolo, and baroque flute.
She is the flute instructor for Georgia College & State University, for Clayton State University, and for Toccoa Falls College. She has performed with a number of ensembles, both classical and popular, in St. Louis, Chicago, and Atlanta, ranging from chamber music to symphonies to back-up for performers such as Rod Stewart.
She is a member of the Peachtree Consort and Peachtree Symphonic Winds. She maintains a private teaching studio and is frequently asked to be an adjudicator and clinician. She can be heard on a number of professional recordings.
She earned her Bachelor of Music degree as a student of Jacob Berg, former principal flute of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, at the St. Louis Conservatory of Music. She earned her Master of Music degree at DePaul University, as one of only two students of Donald Peck, former principal flute of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Before taking up her present responsibilities in Georgia, she was a member of the administrative staff of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, during the tenure of Sir Georg Solti.
Ms. Bartholow said that she felt Jamestown was a very nourishing environment for her, as she grew and developed in our community. ''I decided I wanted to be a professional musician at the age of eight,'' she told me. ''Both of my parents loved music and listened to all kinds of it on recordings. They took me along to many concerts, as well.
''I remember the day, I was listening to a light classical recording and I heard a sound which absolutely thrilled me. I thought it was the most wonderful sound in the world, and I thought it would be wonderful if I could make that sound. My father very patiently played the recording over and over until I found the exact sound. He told me it was a flute,'' she said.
Her parents were both instrumental in her development as a musician. ''My mother loved painting and drawing. We would often either draw something together from life, or sometimes we would make up stories and try to capture them visually. The result is that I have a very visual approach to music. I often see passages in terms of a visual image, or I describe a tonality in terms of a color.''
Her father always claimed that he ''couldn't carry a tune in a bag,'' according to the flutist. ''But, my father is a very careful listener, and he thinks about what he's hearing. That makes him the ideal audience.''
One of the best things about Jamestown, as a training ground for a future professional musician, is a curious blend of isolation and proximity to large cities, Ms. Bartholow said. ''I had very good teachers, who gave me a very good understanding of the basics,'' she said. ''At the same time, they weren't so centered in their own egos that they couldn't recognize when I had reached the point at which I could benefit from a different teacher.
''In Jamestown, I got a great deal of individual attention and was able to develop without five rivals, breathing down my neck. On the other hand, when I was ready to face that competition, it was very easy to drive to Fredonia, to Buffalo, to Rochester, Cleveland and Pittsburgh, for more-advanced instruction. Nobody ever tried to hold me back for their own satisfaction,'' she added.
The artist will perform ''Concertino,'' by Cecil Chaminade at her performance on Feb. 22. That is a work she once performed with the Jamestown High School Band, in the 1970s. She selected it because she knows it is frequently performed by young musicians, yet they rarely get to hear it performed by a professional musicians, to compare their interpretation of it with something by another musician.
''Not every musician will be a member of a symphony orchestra, but I don't think that should be the goal of a teaching program. Whether an individual student wants to play with a small ensemble or to play along with recordings for his or her own satisfaction, that is every bit as legitimate as pushing for the top of the profession.'' she said.
Music fulfills lives. Since all lives are different, each is fulfilled in its own ways. Successful teaching eases the path for the individual student to meet his needs.
While we're writing about opportunities for young musicians, a faculty member from the much-respected conservatory at Erie's Mercyhurst College will be offering our community a performance, as well as instruction and an opportunity to learn, at the Reg Lenna Civic Center, on May 8, at 7 p.m.
Barton S. Rothberg, who is assistant professor of string instruments at Mercyhurst, will perform on that date, accompanied by pianist Nathan Hess. Performing with Dr. Rothberg will be the Jamestown Suzuki Strings and the All-City Middle School Orchestra. Also performing with him will be dancers from the Chautauqua Regional Youth Ballet.
The violinist has been a member of the Illinois Philharmonic and the Indiana Symphony Orchestra. He has made several appearances with the Lansing Symphony orchestra and has performed at festivals in the U.S., Costa Rica, and Mexico. In May of 2008, he was a prizewinner int he International Chamber Music Ensemble Competition, in Boston.
Tickets to that performance are $6, and can be ordered through the Civic Center's Box Office at 484-7070. Proceeds will benefit both the String Instrument program in the Jamestown Public Schools, and the Youth Ballet.