Joe Wyatt
Published August 8, 2017

The Amarillo College Suzuki Program, which has been enriching young lives with music since 1977, will mark its 40th anniversary with a concert featuring some of its highly accomplished former students and teachers.

The 40th Anniversary Celebration Concert will be at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 2 at the Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts.

The concert is free and open to the public and will serve as a capstone to a weekend of special celebratory events the Suzuki Program has planned for its former and current students and their families.

A cookout on Friday and a musical play-in on Saturday morning are among the festivities leading up to the Celebration Concert. Suzuki alumni and their families who are interested in attending the pre-concert events should visit the anniversary website: Additionally, all former students and teachers are encouraged to reconnect with the program through this website.

“We look forward to welcoming all our Suzuki alumni back to the campus,” Camille Day Nies, Suzuki Program coordinator since 2000, said. “Having them come back to celebrate the training they had and the time they spent making music at the College will be great. But hearing from all our former students and teachers is important to us even if they cannot attend this event; finding out what they are doing now is like receiving welcome news from out-of-touch family.

“All our alumni are invited to join us for the play-in, no matter whether they still play regularly or have to dust off their instruments,” she said. “We want everyone who has been a part or is now a part of this program to share in this weekend, which concludes with the 40th Anniversary Celebration Concert – fantastic music the entire community is invited to enjoy.”

That concert will feature the following former AC Suzuki students:

  • Josh Kendle, violin, is currently living in Kansas City. Josh earned degrees in violin performance from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and is currently a computer programmer and an active freelance musician.

  • Hannah Kendle Dowell, violin, is currently living in Kansas City. Hannah performs across the country in dueling piano bars, where she also plays her violin.

And it will feature the following former AC Suzuki teachers:

  • Dr. Keith Redpath, violin, currently is teaching strings at the Thomas MacLaren School in Colorado Springs, Colo. This former member of the Harrington String Quartet and professor of violin at West Texas A&M University is now a member of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic and the newly formed MacLaren String Quartet.

  • Annie Chalex Boyle, currently is assistant professor of violin at Texas Tech University. She is former member of the Harrington String Quartet and has taught violin at the Interlochen Arts Academy and WTAMU. She also is artistic director/artist faculty at the Lake City String Academy.

Former Suzuki parent Dr. Jim Rauscher, piano, is also slated to be a guest performer at the concert. Dr. Rauscher retired in 2016 as a member of the music faculty at AC, where he taught for 35 years. He is currently an active member of the panhandle music community, serving as a solo recitalist, accompanist, teacher and adjudicator. He has been principal keyboardist for the Amarillo Symphony since 1981.

The Suzuki Program was established at AC in 1977 by two insightful teachers who taught the Suzuki method to only a handful of young violin players. The program has grown steadily and today serves about 150 students ranging in age from 3 to 18.

What began as a violin program slowly grew to include viola and cello, followed by flute, guitar and piano. Harp will be next, beginning this fall.

Several former students in the AC Suzuki Program have reached significant professional heights in musical performance. To name just a few:

  • Emily Wells recently performed with the house band – The Roots – on the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon;
  • Katherine Fong has been a member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra since 2000;
  • Elizabeth Davis and Erica Swindell both performed in Once, the Tony-nominated Broadway musical; and
  • Marisa Sorajja is currently principal first violin in the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, associate principal II violin with the Los Angeles Opera, and a member of the first violin section in the Pacific Symphony.

For more information about the 40th Anniversary Alumni and Student Celebration or the 40th Anniversary Celebration Concert, please call (806) 371-5340.

Suzuki 40th FB Image