Few youth who study music pursue a degree in classical music. Of those that do, it seems that a minority of those continue in a career in music. Last I checked, roughly 25% of my music college classmates were professionally involved in music.
Perhaps we see better odds when considering youth from Prescott. For years Prescott’s Yavapai Symphony Association has offered generous scholarships to Prescott youth majoring in music performance, as a means of investing in the future of live classical music. While only two of the fourteen I tracked down a couple years ago were professional performers, several others were actively teaching music and leaving a measurable impact of YSA’s generosity. That is a higher percentage than my alma mater’s.
The We Wish You Christmas concert involves two former Prescott-area youth who now are pursuing professional careers in classical music. Emily Nardo started violin as a Suzuki Violin student with Barbara McClymonds. Later on she studied with Dr. Phil Kuhns, performed in Prescott POPS, and served as Prescott Chamber Orchestra’s concertmaster. Emily received an Associates of Arts at Yavapai College and then earned Bachelors and Masters in Violin Performances at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Now she is a member of the Chicago Civic Orchestra. Emily returns to Prescott for the holidays and will be the violinist in the ensemble supporting our three sopranos.
Accompanying the three sopranos are piano, violin, flute, cello, French horn, and timpani/percussion. This small ensemble is unusual in instrumentation yet filled with sonic and joyful possibilities. To help create the music for this group, Arizona Philharmonic enlisted the arranging and orchestration skills of Mathew Lanning, another former Prescott youth. I know Mathew’s musical skills well, since he studied piano and composition with me during high school. He would bring in a completely new orchestral work once or twice a month. His orchestration was imaginative and evocative. During high school, various Prescott ensembles premiered five of his orchestral works, including a piano concerto from which he conducted at the piano.
Mathew received his Bachelor of Music in Composition from University of Arizona and is now a Masters Candidate for Composition at the New England Conservatory of Music. His orchestral works, chamber, and solo works have been performed by orchestras around Arizona as well as various professional chamber groups around the United States and abroad, including Transient Canvas, the Worcester Chamber Music Society, and the Grammy-nominated Imani Winds. We are fortunate to have Mathew lend his skills to Arizona Philharmonic and this program.
We hope you can attend our We Wish You Christmas concert to celebrate this Season. While you are enjoying the elegant selection of classical Christmas works, perhaps you will take pride in knowing that two of the musicians involved found their first passion for music here in Prescott, a community that seems to offer local youth an extraordinary opportunity to explore and embrace the performing arts.
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church • Prescott, AZ
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