SANDPOINT — Establishing music as a universal language is the goal of the Music Conservatory of Sandpoint through its Music Without Borders initiative.
“Similar to how players in an orchestra come together to play a unified melody, MCS is excited to continue its tradition of sharing music across borders and across communities,” said Kathi Samuels, MCS board chair.
MCS implemented Music Without Borders in 2012, with the purpose of exposing Sandpoint’s music students to different conductors and student musicians from around the world. Because the students who come to Sandpoint are from a variety of places, it gives the local students exposure to different cultures as well.
“Not only are the students coming from another place, they are also usually very talented,” Samuels said. “So they serve as mentors and really enhance the experience for some of our younger kids.”
MCS has sent local students to Mexico as well, and Samuels said they are looking to expand the program in the future.
The conservatory recently hosted its eighth annual summer orchestra, which combined guest students from Germany and Yakima, as well as guest director Roberta Botelli from the Spokane Youth Philharmonic. The “gifted” young musicians performed at the Panida Theater on Aug. 2 as part of the Music Without Borders initiative, Samuels said.
With seven of the students from the Yakima Music en Accion joining the week-long camp, it was the largest YAMA group yet to serve as student mentors in the orchestra. Over the years, MCS has hosted a total of five or six conductors, as well as an average of five students each year. All of the YAMA students practice after school each day as part of their city-wide El Sistema orchestra, and concert master and first violin, Enerida Mendoza, brought both energy and skill to the orchestra, Samuels said.
Sandpoint has its own El Sistema orchestra with Music Matters!, a registered after-school, El Sistema program at the conservatory. Both Sandpoint’s conservatory and YAMA are members of El Sistema USA, a network of musical entities, where participants work to create opportunities in which every child has access to music through ensemble training and regular public performances, Samuels said. Nationwide, these groups are created to promote positive youth development and encourage thriving communities through the common language of music.
Through partnerships with the West Bonner and Lake Pend Oreille school districts, the after-school program has expanded to provide Music Matters! classes at Kootenai and Farmin-Stidwell elementaries and Priest River Lamanna High School, as well as at the MCS campus.
As the summer academy programs wrap up, the conservatory is preparing to kick off its fall schedule of classes with low-cost El Sistema offerings in choir, theater, jazz, and orchestra. Registration is $75 per year for most groups.
For those interested in signing their child up to learn to play an instrument, sing in a choir, or perform in theater as part of Music Matters!, enrollment is now open. For information, go to sandpointconservatory.org, or call 208-265-4444.
Mary Malone can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.