Women help carry mu­sic fes­ti­val for­ward

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - Her Arts - By Lorien E. Dahl

While the world of clas­si­cal mu­sic has his­tor­i­cally been dom­i­nated by male com­posers, con­duc­tors and in­stru­ment builders, the field is no longer bound by those tra­di­tions.

Al­though nearly ev­ery piece in this year’s Hot Springs Mu­sic Fes­ti­val was writ­ten by a man, As­so­ciate Di­rec­tor Lynn Payette said more than half its key lead­er­ship po­si­tions for the 22nd sea­son are filled by women.

From fes­ti­val board Chairwo­man Vicki Shaw Cook and Arts Ad­min­is­tra­tion Men­tor Laura Rosen­berg, to staff and board mem­bers, ap­pren­tices, and renowned men­tor mu­si­cians, the 2017 event sim­ply wouldn’t be pos­si­ble with­out the ef­forts put forth by women — not only dur­ing the fes­ti­val weeks of June 3-17, but year-round.

Also the fes­ti­val’s co- founder, Rosen­berg dis­cussed its con­cep­tual phase, say­ing a trend had been no­ticed in clas­si­cal mu­sic that there was a dis­con­nect be­tween the longer learn­ing process in higher ed­u­ca­tion, ver­sus the days or per­haps a week or two for mas­ter­ing per­for­mance pieces when be­com­ing a pro­fes­sional. Thus, the men­tor/ ap­pren­tice mu­sic fes­ti­val re­la­tion­ship was born, where the two take the stage to­gether, each car­ry­ing equal re­spon­si­bil­ity for a suc­cess­ful con­cert.

Per­cus­sion­ist Maria Flurry is one of five fe­male men­tors who shared their per­spec­tives on pro­fes­sional mu­si­cian­ship, men­tor­ing for the fes­ti­val, and women in the field of clas­si­cal mu­sic. An Ari­zona res­i­dent, she said women in that state are ac­tu­ally over­rep­re­sented at the com­mu­nity or­ches­tra level, but their num­bers fall in­cred­i­bly short as pro­fes­sion­als.

Horn player Caro­line Kin­sey said up un­til a few decades ago, or­ches­tra au­di­tions were not held be­hind a screen, so those choos­ing mu­si­cians could see the per­son play­ing. Many male judges falsely be­lieved women couldn’t get the same sound from their in­stru­ment as a man, due to a per­ceived smaller lung size, so the fe­male pro­fes­sional par­tic­i­pa­tion was greatly re­duced. She said since screens have been uti­lized, the gen­der ra­tio has be­come about even.

Harpist Shana Nor­ton had a slightly dif­fer­ent take, since women have long filled that space in an or­ches­tra, but she noted that re­cent pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions of play­ers tell of hav­ing to change clothes in their harp cases, be­cause some halls had no dress­ing rooms for women.

Bas­soon­ist Jenny Mann first par­tic­i­pated in the HSMF dur­ing 1999 as an ap­pren­tice. She now works as as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of the in­stru­ment at the Univer­sity of Alabama, and has re­turned to the Spa City as a men­tor ev­ery sum­mer since 2011. In that role, Mann said she en­joys the op­por­tu­nity to work with a large group of mu­si­cians that she ei­ther doesn’t know, or doesn’t see very of­ten.

“It lifts me up and re­vives my in­spi­ra­tion ev­ery sum­mer to spend time with this fresh, vi­brant group of peo­ple. It is also so re­ward­ing to see my stu­dents not only make sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment over our two weeks to­gether, but to re­turn the next sum­mer to con­tinue our work. The two weeks are in­tense, but it is ab­so­lutely worth it,” she said.

Flute men­tor Vir­ginia Brof­fitt Kun­zer called the HSMF mu­si­cians “some of the best in the world,” and com­mented on the fes­ti­val’s ex­cel­lent rep­u­ta­tion across the globe.

This will be Kin­sey’s first year to men­tor, and she is most ex­cited about get­ting to know who her stu­dents are and what they want to ac­com­plish with be­ing a horn player. She said, “I love to help peo­ple try to un­der­stand what they re­ally want and help them make a plan, and be bru­tally hon­est with them on what it takes.”

Kin­sey said there is noth­ing like be­ing a mu­si­cian, and she wishes ev­ery­one could know what it’s like to sit on stage and per­form such in­cred­i­ble pieces. “One per­for­mance alone makes you ex­pe­ri­ence al­most ev­ery kind of emo­tion there is — to me, that is liv­ing,” she said.

Emo­tion plays a big part for Rosen­berg, too, who now lives in Cal­i­for­nia and re­turns an­nu­ally to carry out her lat­est role. She said, “I don’t have words to ad­e­quately con­vey the heart-lift­ing de­light I feel ev­ery time I come back into Hot Springs and re­al­ize we’re go­ing to have another fes­ti­val sea­son,” adding, “I’m filled with grat­i­tude that Hot Springs is a place that con­tin­ues to nur­ture an en­tity like this.”

Re­gard­ing the in­volve­ment of women, in ad­di­tion to peo­ple of color who were tra­di­tion­ally ex­cluded from or­ches­tral play, she said, “We need to be the en­ablers of mak­ing sure that ev­ery­body has ac­cess to this won­der­ful art form.”

Us­ing fa­mil­ial terms, Rosen­berg spoke of the men­tor/ap­pren­tice re­la­tion­ship and the grow­ing num­bers of women in pro­fes­sional mu­sic, say­ing, “It needs to be our joy, but also our re­spon­si­bil­ity, to make sure that as we have stood on our moth­ers’ shoul­ders, that our chil­dren get to stand on ours.”

Fes­ti­val passes can be pur­chased for $150 by call­ing 501-623-4763. As al­ways, at­ten­dance to re­hearsals is free and open to all. As spe­cific con­cert in­for­ma­tion be­comes avail­able, it will be posted on the fes­ti­val web­site, https:// hot­mu­

Hot Springs Mu­sic Fes­ti­val string quar­tet vi­o­lin­ists Lara Mad­den, left, of River For­est, Ill. and Laura Stiener of Las Cruces, N.M. re­hearse with oth­ers at the Fine Arts Cen­ter of Hot Springs in 2016.

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