■ By Anna Pechanec Ancheta / Contributed
It’s been said that people fear performing in public more than anything except dying. To the students in MUSICA! Everyone’s Community Harmonious Orchestra (ECHOrchestra), performing is what keeps them alive, alert and nourished. Sunday they went to Idyllwild Arts Academy to perform and to demonstrate what MUSICA! BRIDGE entails, what it expects and what results from six to eight hours of weekly practice.
Why do these kids give their afterschool time? For them, it is fun and it’s where their friends are. The hidden reason is they are addicted! Yes they have a serious habit, developed over two to four years of practicing music, listening to music, performing music together as a group. Habits of playing a string instrument skillfully improve with instruction from talented teachers, and especially with the support of other students at more advanced levels who can be inspiring models.
Idyllwild Arts Academy students arrive every Monday for rehearsals with ECHO. These are high school students who have excellent training, are outstanding performers and want to meet and help motivate MUSICA! players to play their best. Idyllwild Arts mentors come from Russia, China, Korea, New Mexico, California and Maine. At one time, they might have been told that they were destined only for careers as solo performing artists, but now they have discovered that they like to teach, too!
They are all participants in the Artists in Society program at Idyllwild Arts Academy. This program, headed up by Eduardo Santiago, is intended to introduce students at the Academy to how the arts interact with our real everyday world. Sometimes it takes a while for academy students who have studied an instrument since they were four or five with a private teacher, who now attend a private academy specializing in developing their artistic talent to understand the lives of our MUSICA! students.
Our valley students have limited access to private music teachers, they don’t have large museums or concert halls nearby and they live in an area where economic opportunity is limited, where gangs and crime are ever present, and where expectations for achievement, while encouraged, are the exception rather than the rule. Together, the Academy students and the MUSICA! students learn from each other, improving their skills as performers and teachers. Sharing what they like about music, showing off their special riffs and learning to communicate about something they love.
On Sunday, under the baton of their director, Teresa Di Pietro, MUSICA! ECHO performed two pieces for orchestra by themselves and Idyllwild Academy students played chamber music. Then along with Eduardo Santiago, Heather Netz, Idyllwild Arts Academy orchestra manager and Anna Ancheta, director of MUSICA!, Idyllwild student teachers like Ashley Leung spoke about their experiences interacting with MUSICA! students. The best part of the program was when ECHO students and Idyllwild mentors played music, side by side, felt the music together and created a performance right in the moment.