Kenai Central High School and Skyview High School students were in for a treat last week when three nationally known artists performed privately.
The Performing Arts Society brought singers Kate Egan, soprano, Nancy Caudill, mezzo-soprano, and pianist Juliana Osinchuk to performed privately, and less formally, for the choir and band students.
The women also performed a public concert Saturday as a tribute to Verdi and Wagner, two opera composers who were both born 200 years ago.
Maria Allison, a member of the society, said the mission of the Performing Arts Society is to promote classical and jazz music in the Central Peninsula area by bringing in performers from Alaska and the lower 48 states to perform.
“We aim to bring musicians to the schools for the students to experience live music right in their own school, classrooms, gymnasiums or auditoriums, and our goal is to offer these to the schools for free,” Allison said.
“It is our philosophy that young people’s minds and hearts are greatly enriched by listening to excellent performances, especially when the performers are right in front of them, in their schools, in their community,” she said. “The performers have a chance to talk about themselves, their music and answer questions from the students.”
Renee Henderson, KCHS choir teacher, said approximately 115 students, including choir and band students, attended the Friday performance in the auditorium. She said the more musical education the students receive the better.
“I just want them to be exposed to the wonderful music,” Henderson said. “It is a good education for them.”
Skyview music teacher, Kent Peterson, agreed that the performance of the three musicians was important for students.
“That is a great opportunity for them to interact with someone who shares their passion for music,” he said.
Peterson said his group of 20 students was excited to hear about the informal performance.
“It is more than just a concert,” he said. “It is more of a concert with a question and answer opportunity.”
Peterson said Allison helps bring musicians and performers into the classroom.
“We are always really excited,” Peterson said. “We have been fortunate to have at least one (performance) a year.”
The musicians explained that music, early on, formed then into what they are today.
Kate Egan, soprano, said music taught her a lot about life.
“Learning music and learning musicianship taught me how to be disciplined, and self-directed. Singing, playing and instrument and being in shows taught me how to get along with people,” she wrote in an email. “It gave me a community in which to belong that supported me, and in which I learned to support others.”
Pianist Juliana Osinchuk said as a student, music played a big role in her life.
“Music has totally shaped my life as I started to play the piano when I was four-years-old,” she wrote in an email. “I do not remember when music was not part of my life. I was on a serious road to being a professional musician from the beginning so music disciplined me, and was always a factor in my social life and commitments as well.”
Mezzo-soprano Nancy Caudill, said she began singing at an early age and she believes music and art in schools are very important.
“Showing them music is fun,” she said.
She said she loves working with students, encouraging them to follow their passion and give it their all.
“If that just reaches one of them, then we have succeeded,” she said. “I take it very seriously.”
Sara J. Hardan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org