It will be a milestone event for the program that enriches students’ lives through music: The Suzuki Program is celebrating its 40th year at AC.
“It’s always a big weekend for us when we present the Annual Group Recital,” Camille Day Nies, Suzuki Program coordinator since 2000, said. “But this year is especially meaningful because we are celebrating the 40th year of the program.
“We’re also excited because we’ve expanded the program in recent years to include more instruments than ever before, and all our students will be on stage to perform together.”
The Suzuki Program was established at AC in 1977 by two insightful teachers who taught only a handful of young violin players. The program has grown steadily and today serves 145 students ranging in age from 3 to 18.
What began as a violin program slowly grew to include viola and cello, with the program since embracing flute, guitar and piano. Harp soon will be next.
No matter the instrument, however, instruction is provided always by Suzuki musicians who guide students through a methodology devised in the late 1940s by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki of Japan. It is an evolution that begins with early childhood music and spans theory and orchestration – and with great success.
AC’s Suzuki Program has alumni playing in prestigious orchestras throughout North America and even for the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Locally, more than two dozen AC Suzuki students have gone on to play with the Amarillo Symphony, and dozens of former students have developed professional careers in music.
The Annual Group Recital is a chance for all AC Suzuki students to shine, but it is also a capstone to an eventful weekend at AC.
“It is going to be a full weekend leading up to the recital,” Day Nies said. “We’ll provide plenty of recreational and social activities, and we’ll conduct some advanced master classes on Friday. Then we’ll have several workshops on Saturday, which will be led by guest clinicians for each specific instrument.”
The visiting clinicians are:
Andrea Cannon, guitar, from Houston. Her Guitar Arts Studio is home to the first Suzuki Early Childhood Music program established in the U.S.
Melissa Solomon de Freitas, cello, from Austin. She is a graduate of the Julliard School in New York, where she participated in Julliard’s Community Fellowship Program, taking music to diverse audiences throughout the New York metropolitan area.
Cathy Hargrave, piano, from Rowlett, Texas. She became the fourth American pianist to earn a Suzuki piano teaching certificate from the Talent Education Research Institute in Matsumoto, Japan where she studied Suzuki pedagogy with both Dr. Shinichi Suzuki and Dr. Haruko Kataoka, co-founder of Suzuki Piano.
Megan Holland, violin and viola, from Albuquerque. She is the Suzuki violin teacher at The Montessori Elementary School of Albuquerque and has appeared as soloist with the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra and with the Albuquerque Philharmonic.
Elizabeth ‘Izzy’ Potts, flute, from Tulsa, Okla. She received a master’s degree in music, manga cum laude, from the University of Oklahoma, and will receive her doctorate of musical arts degree, summa cum laude, from the University of North Texas this May.
The AC Suzuki Program is making plans for additional celebrations to mark its 40th anniversary at the College, including at least one major alumni reunion next fall that tentatively will include an all-inclusive and monumental concert.
For more information about the Amarillo College Suzuki Program, the Annual Group Recital, or events concerning the program’s 40th anniversary, please call (806) 345-5573 or visit actx.edu/suzuki.