Guest Blog: Playing it Forward

Meeting with young people and making music ever more accessible are priorities for the Orchestre Métropolitain. Each year, the OM sparks wonder in more than 11,000 young people across Montreal through an educational program with two initiatives: The OM at School and Playing it Forward.

The OM at School provides an opportunity for meaningful encounters between students and musicians, in the form of workshops held in schools, and by welcoming school groups to rehearsals and concerts. Last December, the art works of some 15 kindergarten students at École Notre-Dame-des-Neiges embellished the foyer of the Maison symphonique. The students, who attended the dress rehearsal, were able to see their works on display, and to present one as a gift to conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin. In preparation for the outing, the students had learned about Schumann’s Piano Concerto, one of the works on the program, and were paid a visit by the OM’s artistic partner, conductor Nicolas Ellis, who answered their questions.

Playing it Forward aims to provide a forum for young musicians and to support their development through mentoring, master classes and other activities. The OM Preludesmusical performances given by young and talented musicians as a prologue to OM concerts, is an example. The young performers then attend the concert free of charge and a few have the privilege of presenting flowers on stage to the conductors and soloists we welcome. Another Playing It Forward project is the creation of the OMNI competition. Devoted to young musicians between 7 and 17, the competition gives entrants the chance to display their talent in a relaxed setting that encourages connections between young people who share the same passion, and discussion with professional musicians. These initiatives are inspiring, not only for the young people involved but also for the OM musicians, who find them a source of great pride.

Thank you to Laura Eaton at the Orchestre Métropolitain for guest blogging for us.

Guest Blog: Ontario Resonance Mentorship Program at Esprit Orchestra

Esprit Orchestra’s Ontario150 Community Celebration Program, Ontario Resonance, engaged, nurtured, and promoted a young group of composers, musicians, and students in a project that created awareness of Ontario as a vibrant place to live through new orchestral compositions combined with innovative explorations in sound. Esprit engaged a group of Ontario emerging composers and partnered them with different student groups, fostering new relationships with and between locales and communities. The emerging composers mentored students to create pieces – often their first compositions for orchestra – which celebrated and reflected Ontario’s places and spaces, environments, and communities. At the same time, the mentor composers composed their own new works, creating a cascade-like process wherein writing their own works was taking place at the same time as guiding young student composers in their composing. Ontario’s heritage was highlighted by music portraying human activity, ethnic cultures, natural environments, cityscapes, and historic buildings. Esprit Orchestra musicians were hired to act as mentors with each student group, providing valuable one-on-one mentoring with student musicians and composers and their teachers, as well as performing alongside student musicians to enhance the experience for the program participants.

Esprit Orchestra in concertOntario Resonance ran from September to November of 2017, culminating in seven performances in schools and venues across the GTA, with student compositions performed by a combination of student performers and professional Esprit musicians. The mentors’ works were showcased in an all-pro finale concert at Trinity St. Paul’s Centre on November 23, 2017 – a high energy ending to the program with a full audience in attendance.

The Ontario Resonance program created a way for artists to serve the province’s population in an imaginative, meaningful, and lasting way. It encouraged recognition of and reflection on the places where people live and environments and communities they are surrounded by. Newly created compositions by high school students and mentoring composers, all written and premiered throughout the program, now exist as souvenirs of their experience. Inspired young composers and student musicians, with their pieces having real purpose, are now encouraged to continue pursuing projects of similar nature as they navigate their studies and move forward into adult life.

All participating parties in Ontario Resonance – mentoring composers, teachers, student composers and musicians, Esprit staff and musicians, recording engineers, volunteers, and audience members – have commented on what a creative, and engaging way the project celebrated Ontario’s 150th anniversary year. Esprit is grateful to the Government of Ontario for their support of this enriching, unique project.

Thank you to Amber Melhado at Esprit Orchestra for guest blogging for us.