MAS­TER’S LES­SON IN CLAS­SI­CAL MU­SIC

Yo-Yo Ma treated to con­cert, praises pro­gram at Keeler Ele­men­tary

Calgary Herald - - FRONT PAGE - EVA FER­GU­SON efer­gu­son@post­media.com

Ac­claimed cel­list Yo-Yo Ma vis­its stu­dents at Keeler Ele­men­tary School as part of the Cal­gary Phil­har­monic Or­ches­tra’s PhilKids pro­gram, be­fore his sold-out show in Cal­gary on Thurs­day.

Only hours be­fore his sold-out per­for­mance in Cal­gary Thurs­day, world fa­mous cel­list Yo-Yo Ma made time to meet with dozens of stu­dents at Keeler Ele­men­tary School in the heart of For­est Lawn.

As part of the Cal­gary Phil­har­monic Or­ches­tra’s PhilKids pro­gram, de­signed to pro­mote mu­sic ed­u­ca­tion in un­der­served com­mu­ni­ties, stu­dents in grades 1 to 5 treated Ma to an in­spir­ing ren­di­tion of Mary Had a Lit­tle Lamb at the pri­vate event in the school’s mu­sic room.

“It’s al­ways won­der­ful to walk into a room where you see chil­dren are en­gaged and cu­ri­ous,” said Ma, who was a child prodigy and be­gan per­form­ing at the age of 4½.

“I can see the long-term ef­fects of what the teach­ers, staff, and mu­si­cians have cre­ated. They have cre­ated a space for these stu­dents where their imag­i­na­tion and cu­rios­ity for the world is sup­ported and en­cour­aged.”

Up to 55 stu­dents played flute, trum­pet, drums, vi­o­lin and cello for Ma, who was per­form­ing Thurs­day at Jack Singer Con­cert Hall and Fri­day at Mount Royal Univer­sity’s Bella Con­cert Hall.

Ma then played sev­eral pieces for the stu­dents, from their own Mary Had a Lit­tle Lamb, to other clas­si­cal pieces. The group also en­gaged in a num­ber of rhythm ex­er­cises, snap­ping fin­gers and clap­ping hands.

Ma then an­swered stu­dent ques­tions, in­clud­ing “how old is your cello?” to which Ma, 62, replied, “Much older than me.”

CPO pres­i­dent Paul Dor­nian said the event was mov­ing.

“If you want to change the world, in­vest in the chil­dren," he said. “I can’t think of many bet­ter ways to make a dif­fer­ence than the amaz­ing PhilKids pro­gram.

“See­ing Yo-Yo Ma in­ter­act­ing and mak­ing mu­sic with these ele­men­tary school chil­dren put a lump in my throat. Mr. Ma is a mas­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tor whether he is play­ing his cello, talk­ing to the chil­dren, or lis­ten­ing to their wis­dom.”

Judy Kil­bourne, long­time CPO vol­un­teer and board mem­ber, said Ma sim­ply “bounced” into the room, full of en­ergy.

“This was the most won­der­ful af­ter­noon of my life, it was that spe­cial,” said Kil­bourne, who is ac­tive with the PhilKids pro­gram.

“His in­ter­play with the kids was just beau­ti­ful, it was mag­i­cal.”

Through the weekly PhilKids pro­gram at Keeler, stu­dents in grades 1 to 5 work closely with CPO mu­si­cians through a multi-faceted ap­proach in­tro­duc­ing mu­si­cal­ity to young chil­dren, de­vel­op­ing rhythm, cre­ativ­ity, self-ex­pres­sion and goal achieve­ment.

Mu­si­cians de­velop a rap­port of trust and re­spect, par­tic­i­pat­ing in band en­sem­bles and re­ceiv­ing group lessons on vi­o­lin and trum­pet.

“The op­por­tu­nity for us to host Yo-Yo Ma at Keeler Ele­men­tary School has been so phe­nom­e­nal for our stu­dents,” said prin­ci­pal Denise Nimmo.

“They have been so ex­cited for his visit to hear a world fa­mous mu­si­cian play for them and then to also have the ex­pe­ri­ence of ac­tu­ally play­ing the cello for him to hear.

“To have this op­por­tu­nity to­day is just out of this world and some­thing that our stu­dents will carry in their hearts for­ever, I am cer­tain.”

Becq pho­tog­ra­phy in­ter­na­tional

BECQ PHO­TOG­RA­PHY IN­TER­NA­TIONAL

Yo-Yo Ma made mu­sic with a group of pupils at Keeler Ele­men­tary School on Thurs­day. The cel­list, in town for two con­certs, was thrilled to see “en­gaged and cu­ri­ous” stu­dents.

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