Magazine article Strings

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra Opens Community Music School

Magazine article Strings

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra Opens Community Music School

Article excerpt

Players offer lessons in strings, theory, and more in high-tech facility that will serve all of Canada

IMAGINE WATCHING A WORLD-CLASS ORCHESTRA onstage and the next day taking a 30-minute private lesson from the principal cellist at a sleek, technologically advanced music school for a song. That dream has become a reality in British Columbia, where the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra School of Music will begin sessions in September.

The brainchild of VSO artistic director Bramwell Tovey, the community music school will offer private instruction on stringed instruments and more as well as group courses in music appreciation, theory, history, chamber music, and the Alexander Technique. Of the 48 teachers, 32 are VSO members, whose teaching fees will be paid extra out of the school's budget.

"The perception in the community is that the orchestra is connecting in a way that it hitherto has not been able to manage," Tovey says. "The school has enabled us to put a 'bricks and mortar' on that activity."

The school is prepared to take on 1,500 students, 40 percent of whom will be adults, Tovey says. "There are programs to keep in touch with the adult population who are releaming," Tovey adds. "This is becoming very much a growth area in music education."

But the school also will cater to those as young as three months old. "[The inclusiveness] helps us keep in touch with the whole family," Tovey says.

The 25,000-square-foot school resides in the first four floors of a 42-story, luxury residential skyscraper across the street from the orchestra's grand vaudeville home, the Orpheum, in downtown Vancouver. Inside are 18 teaching studios, two classrooms, six practice rooms, a two-story "ensemble room," a 120-seat recital hall, a gift shop, and a café.

While the school boasts Steinway pianos, dressing rooms, and other traditional amenities, it's flush with advanced technology, such as motorized adjustable acoustic panels and a mechanical flooring system ("flat floor to raked seating in minutes") in the acoustically and vibrationally isolated recital hall. …

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