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Nantucket Community Music Center

Showing kids how to have a life in music

Where do musicians come from?  Classical musicians, specifically?

This question occurred to me when talking with three passionate young people who will be performing in Peter and the Wolf (narrated by our own David Lazarus) and Appalachian Spring  tomorrow (4pm at the high school $25/10; 7:30pm at the Westmoor Club, $75).

Nick Davies’ father is a tennis pro.  Samantha Benson grew up in New York City; Sam Waring outside Boston.  None come from a musical family, but here they are:  Nick the winner of a prestigious award from the Boston Symphony and about to start college at Rice University, Samantha a graduate of Boston University making her professional career as a French horn player, and Sam, now at the New England Conservatory studying oboe and making his own reeds.  How did they get there, what first interested them in their instrument, and why is what they do important for them and for us in the community at large?

Interestingly, all three learned about and chose their instrument in early elementary school—second or third grade.  Something about the instrument appealed to them.  But what brought them to the next step, to serious one-on-one study with a professional musician, which is the time-honored method of learning to play an instrument, was the possibility of sharing their interests and passions.  A they learned and performed, the communal experience of making music with others, the personal satisfaction of discovering one’s own musical voice, the desire to communicate, share and introduce people to new things—all of these drove and still drive these young musicians to perfect their art and spend their lives in music.

Nantucket Community Music Center was found in 1975 by people seeking an outlet for amateur chamber music playing, but led rapidly to a community band and a community chorus, to individual music teachers offering private lessons, and to its current state as an after-school music academy.  Children and adults can become proficient in any instrument that intrigues them, because NCMC hires musicians from off-island to supplement island talent and because NCMC offers the opportunity to play in ensembles.

But most of all, Mollie Glazer, the NCMC’s Artistic Director, says, is the opportunity NCMC provides for talented islanders to experience playing with others like themselves:  kids from the Cape Cod Conservatory.  That’s important because for many island musicians it’s their first opportunity to meet others who are as deeply interested in and committed to their music as they themselves are, and who understand and are models for kids growing up on a small island where most people are more interested in football than French horn. 

Once a child has been identified as having talent and potential, Glazer says, it’s up to the parents to see the future the child can achieve and to support and extend that future to them.  Sometimes, as in Nick’s case, this even means studying high school off-island, in order to be in Boston every weekend for serious lessons and playing.  And always it needs parental support and reinforcement:  after all, studying a musical instrument is the opposite of instant gratification:  it requires old-fashioned discipline, patience and determination.  According to Glazer “our job is to get people hooked—it’s a journey of a lifetime that will sustain you for years and years” if you choose to follow it. 

So come hear these talented young island and off-island musicians tomorrow.  Their conductor is a remarkable Boston University violinist and conductor named Taichi Fukumara—a 19-year-old with the ability to create energy among musicians, to make people want to play well, to have the heart and the sensibility to draw their best performances out of them. 

Let these young musicians show you new things, give you new experiences—and show you their life in music.

Nantucket Community Music Center, 508-228-3352  

Here's a tiny snippet of their first rehearsal this afternoon:  And a quieter part: