Guest editorial: Impressions from a visitor

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

As a professional classical musician who has performed at many international music festivals, I am impressed with the 2012 CICA International Summer Orchestra and Chamber Music Festival under the direction of Thomas Chen. It's been a good musical experience and I've had fun making new, lifetime musical and local friends in the community of Eureka Springs.

One highlight was my first introduction to Arkansas traditional music. A local host, Joe McClung, invited CICA students and faculty to a Bluegrass barbecue with several local musicians who jammed with us and had lots of fun. I can't wait to come back!

The festival is winding down a unique 21-night musical extravaganza of some of the world's best soloists and chamber music groups currently on tour. We thank and applaud the appreciative audiences and local businesses for their tremendous support.

If you have not yet attended you're in for a treat. To me, the atmosphere each evening in the downtown auditorium is almost magical -- from the door handle that creaks when you enter the main auditorium entrance to the subdued, period chandeliers and red velvet stage curtains to the (comfortably padded) wooden seats.

First impressions are quickly interrupted by tireless, local volunteers who step up to greet you and assist your every need. As the house lights dim and give way to bright stage lights, shiny brass, silver and gold instruments and inlaid pearl bowstrings dazzle in the light. A hush falls over the audience while the orchestra awaits the concertmaster's signal to the tuning of "A." As Maestro Chen takes the stage, the orchestra rises. Bows tap the music stands and feet lightly stamp -- a tradition of respect. Within seconds the vibrant sounds of the orchestra ring crisply in the auditorium's good acoustics.

At the end of each piece, and sometimes between movements, the exuberant audience claps, hoots and whistles (which would be to the dismay of European audiences) while the performers graciously take in the applause.

During the day, tucked away at the Eureka Springs Middle School, students from around the globe are hard at work rehearsing, singing, performing in master class, and taking private lessons as they prepare for their musical futures. We are proud to have local area students in attendance: five string students from the Phillippe family; Jeremiah Alvarado-Owens, flute; Dalton Snow, trumpet; Jamie Ballinger, tuba; Kayla Thompson and Taylor Caldwell clarinets; Jordan Henley and Rachal Thomas, voice; Julius Stevens, local band director and French horn faculty -- and our Suzuki Program for young players.

We hope you all come hear the future talent of classical music in our final student solo and chamber music concert on July 5 at 7 p.m. in The Auditorium. As the final week of the music festival is in session, we invite you to join us every night this week. If you missed the July 4th Extravaganza, I'm sure your friends who made it will make you sorry you missed the CICA orchestra featuring Dominika Zamara, opera soloist from Milan, Italy, with the Ozarks Chorale, in Vivaldi's "Gloria"; our composer in residence, Jeremiah Bornfield's new composition about his reflections of Eureka Springs; student concerto competition winner Barrett Black, in a virtuosic American work for cello -- Hungarian Rhapsody by Popper; and Alexander Gilman and Gregory Maytan, violins, in Bach's Double Concerto. CICA's festival orchestra final season blow-out concerts are Friday and Saturday, July 6 and 7 at 7:30 p.m. Join us!

Special thanks for this amazing three weeks go to Festival Director Thomas Chun-yu Chen; our Music Festival Coordinator Julia Brazelton (who plays viola in the orchestra); and countless other behind-the-scenes volunteers without whom the festival would not be possible. Preparations for CICA 2013 are already in progress. If you would like to sponsor a student scholarship for next summer, kindly contact www.cicamusicfestival.org.

See you at the concert!

Dr. September Payne,
CICA Flute Faculty

Editor's note: With 35 years of international teaching/performing experience, Sand Diego's Dr. September Payne, founder of Music West and SDSU Adjunct Flute Professor Emeritus, is recognized as a leading flute pedagogue.