Saturday, April 04, 2015

PROGRAM SPOTLIGHT: The Bow Street Youth Orchestra & Junior Ensemble

The Bow Street Junior Ensemble lead by Lynne White-McMahon at the New Hampshire Statewide String Festival on Saturday March 28, 2015.

Lynne White-McMahon and Augusto Salazar started the Bow Street Youth Ensembles over 25 years ago and the Portsmouth Youth Orchestra. Now, having grown into the Bow Street Youth Orchestra and Bow Street Junior Ensemble, PMAC is happy to have them under our roof! With their semester performance this weekend (the information is listed below), we wanted to learn a little more about what drives our two youth ensembles conductors. We asked them each a few questions about the importance of youth orchestras, and how music has influenced their lives. 

Portsmouth Music and Arts Center: When did you first launch Bow Street Youth Orchestra?

Lynne White- McMahon: I think Augusto can answer that question.  I can't remember specifics.  I know we celebrated our 25th year last year.  So that would make it 1989?

August Salazar: Over 25 years ago as the Portsmouth Youth String Ensemble.

PMAC: Why is it important for a community to have a youth orchestra? 

LWM: I strongly encourage all my students to play in any kind of ensemble in addition to taking lessons on their instruments, so regional youth orchestras give them that opportunity.  Music makes so much more sense when it is performed with other musicians, not to mention that it is more FUN to be inspired by the process of creating music with friends instead of by yourself.

AS: And there are not enough string programs and orchestras in schools.  

PMAC:  In what ways do young people benefit from playing in an orchestra?  

LWM: There are too many to list here, but I would choose these benefits as the most important: developing the essential skills of a well-rounded musician, taking part in the creative process, learning to problem-solve as a group, and especially finding friends that have the same love of playing an instrument. 

AS: It is an opportunity for young string players to meet other young people with similar interests and play music together.  

PMAC: When did you start playing your string instrument and when did you start playing in an orchestral setting?

LWM: When I was in 2nd grade, my music teacher had many different instruments displayed in her classroom one day for us to explore, much like the "petting zoo" we have had at PMAC.  I was inexplicably drawn to the violin and wanted to learn to play it immediately.  I was fortunate enough to have a string program in my school growing up, so I began learning violin in group lessons that year,  and then began orchestra in middle school.  I was hooked for life by then and played in regional orchestras throughout high school.  

AS: I didn't start violin until I was 17 years old, which is late if you want to become a star in classical music.  But within a year and a half I was able to audition for the symphony orchestra of my city, La Paz Bolivia and I made it.

PMAC: How has playing music with a group shaped you?  

LWM: I have always experienced such joy performing in ensembles with other musicians and I feel as though I never have enough time to do it as much as I'd like.  I attribute this love of music to the positive experiences I had as a young camper, and later as a faculty member, spending summers at Point Counter Point Music Camp in Vermont learning to play in orchestra.  I found a mentor during those summers that believed in my desire to be a violinist.  During my college years, I decided to major in violin performance since I loved collaborating with other musicians so much. I attended Kneisel Hall in Maine during these years, where the focus was on playing in small chamber groups with other incredible and inspiring string players.  I also realized I wanted to impart my love of music to young people, so teaching privately and directing ensembles for young string players has become an equally important part of my life.  I continue to perform in ensembles as much as possible since it is what I love to do.

I have had the opportunity to play with wonderful musicians, especially when I played in the Vermont Symphony and renowned soloists were featured.  

PMAC: What are your top reasons for why a young string player should join Bow Street Youth Orchestra?

LWM: I highly recommend playing in Bow Street mostly because we have so much fun. I hope to help young musicians find inspiration and sense of accomplishment working with each other to play music of many different styles.  It is so much easier to learn the essential skills involved in performing music when you are playing with others in a group.  And of course, learning to express oneself in music is so much more inspiring when you collaborate with friends.  

AS: All of the above.  

Thank you Lynne and Augusto! Check out their performance info below!

This weekend, April 11 & 12 2015, catch the Bow Street Youth Orchestra and The Bow Street Junior Ensemble in their end of semester performances on Saturday April 11 and Sunday April 12! Saturday's performance will take place at 7:00 pm at the York/Ogunquit Methodist Church, 1026 U.S. Route 1 in York, ME. Sunday's performance will take place at 2:00pm at the Second Christian Congregational Church, 33 Government Street, Kittery, ME. Both events are free, family friendly and open to the public.