Young talent featured in music series
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Mar 13, 2013 11:58 am
Some of Calgary’s top young musicians are heading to the foothills to take command of Okotoks’ finest stage over the next several weeks.
The 101-year-old Mount Royal University Conservatory has lined up a number of talented students from its Advanced Performance Program to perform almost every Sunday afternoon until the end of April at the Rotary Performing Arts Centre (RPAC) in Okotoks. The first performance is March 17 at 3 p.m. featuring two talented violinists, according to Town of Okotoks cultural and historical services team leader Allan Boss.
“We thought it was a great opportunity to get some fabulous classical musicians into an area that might not have heard them before… to give this community some really high level performances,” he said. “I personally love classical music and I wanted to start putting some classical concerts into the RPAC.”
Boss said he became familiar with the Mount Royal University Conservatory while teaching in the university’s drama department a number of years ago and again during his years working with CBC Radio.
“When I was at CBC the conservatory had such a great reputation,” he said. “I did some interviews with musicians out in the conservatory and had a number of chances to deal with them in different situations. It seemed like such a natural fit to me.”
Before the start of the concert series season, Boss connected with the manager of the academy and choral programs Bill van der Sloot about having their young musicians perform in Okotoks. Van der Sloot jumped at the opportunity.
“We have heard wonderful things about the facility and the acoustics there,” said van der Sloot. “It gives us a chance to move into one of the communities outside the city and present this outstanding program, which we have a Mount Royal.”
Van der Sloot said the conservatory offers an array of talented artists from across the globe.
The Advanced Performance Program is in its first full year following a two-year pilot project and was designed primarily for university-aged high performance musicians, said van der Sloot.
“We have a couple of high school students in the program that are absolutely outstanding,” he said.
Among them are violinists Sarah Bleile and Eva Aronian who will perform solos on March 17 at 3 p.m. in Okotoks.
“These are two really outstanding world class young artists,” he said. “They grew up in Calgary and have studied through their entire life at Mount Royal University. They both did their first auditions for our junior academy that recognizes gifted young players when they were eight years old.”
Now 17, Bleile began playing the violin at the age of three and spent the last nine years in the conservatory’s academy program.
Bleile is now in her second year in the advanced program, which is a full-time post-secondary course teaching musicians a variety of skills to prepare them for professional careers including how to record, string literature and to play a variety of genres.
This allowed her to attend a variety of summer camps in Ottawa and gave her the experience of working under a variety of teachers.
Now Bleile said she is eager to start a career as a musician.
“There are so many different career paths you can take,” she said. “A lot of my professional colleagues have an orchestra job, teach, some put on concerts, some play in small ensembles and various concert series in the city.”
Bleile said she looks forward to performing a solo in Okotoks.
“It’s going to be fun to play for a different audience,” she said.
Julia Haager will accompany Bleile and Aronian on a Steinway grand piano.
Tickets to see the Mount Royal University Conservatory concerts in Okotoks cost $15, $20 at the door or $30 for three performances.
“It’s a great way to get out of your house, go see a concert and be home in time for dinner,” said Boss. “It’s a great Sunday afternoon.”
Tickets can be purchased at the Okotoks Art Gallery or by calling 403-938-3204.
For more information go to www.okotoksculture.ca