Originally published in The Observer
Date: March 21, 2012
by: June LeBell | Contributing Columnist
The government may be cutting back on arts education, but arts groups in Sarasota are doing everything they can to preserve and enhance it. Take the Sarasota Orchestra, for example.
Kids from the third grade through high school are involved with the Sarasota Orchestra’s Youth Philharmonic as everything from players to listeners, but, no matter how they’re connected, they’re learning something important for their future — and they’re having fun doing it. Hey, when musicians say they “play” in an orchestra, that word has many meanings, and one of the best is that they’re enjoying the way they make their living.
Exposure to great music — from inside an orchestra or chorus or from a seat in a theater — enhances our lives. Let’s leave aside the studies that have proven that kids who listen to or playMozart (or Brahms or Mendelssohn) improve their grades and are happier. Let’s forget the great doctors, business people, lawyers, athletes and scientists who attend concerts, join choruses and form their own chamber ensembles so they may play Schumann in what little spare time they have.
Let’s remember the beasts whose savage breasts have been soothed by music. And let’s picture the joy radiating from the faces of kids sitting side-by-side with members of the Sarasota Orchestra at a recent concert. Possibly fewer than five will become professional musicians but what they gain in confidence, intelligence, intellect and happiness from their musical experience will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
A few days before the Sarasota Orchestra and the Sarasota Youth Philharmonic got together for their Side-By-Side concert in Neel Auditorium, we attended a Maestro Society gathering in Holley Hall featuring conductor Andrew Lane as emcee. He introduced us to 15-year-old Natasha Snyder, a past winner of the Orchestra’s Youth Concerto Competition, and this lovely, lithe teenager, with orchestra pianist Jonathan Spivy, proceeded to play a movement from Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” that was beautifully musical, dynamically colorful and spot on pitch.
Natasha has a dream of becoming a soloist and then opening her own music academy. Will she make it? So much goes into making a career as a musician. But Natasha is getting the kind of mentoring that can, if the gods are with her, lead her on the right path. Meanwhile, she’s having a ball — and so are her listeners.