The first of three Festival concerts on Saturday, March 29, was performed by students of the Eastman Community Music School.  Boys and girls performed works composed by women, and four girls performed really lovely pieces that they had written themselves.  The Lowry Hall was the setting, and the young performers did an excellent job at not being distracted by the people passing through, some of whom stopped to listen to the very engaging program.

Chair of the Piano Department, Howard Spindler, the very genial host, observed that this was the first time that there were composers among the students.  Since the Community Music School has hosted a concert for their students as part of the festival for most its 10 years, it may well be that the festival itself is having an influence in generating young composers.

My favorites were: Rondo-Allegro from the Harp Sonata Op. 2, by Sophia Dussek (1775-1847), performed by Joanna Jin.  Sophia Dussek is name I’ve seen in history books so it was a real treat to hear her music brought to life.  The youngest composer, Madison Sutherland, age 10, played a set of three piano pieces that were captivating and imaginative. These pieces would be great additions to the repertoire for young piano students. And Annie Jacobs-Perkins (a high school senior) played a searching, introspective solo on the cello. While slow in tempo, it was technically demanding, going up into a very high register and employing a lot of double stops. This piece too I could imagine becoming a valuable addition to the cello repertoire (although I do think it needs a title more descriptive than “Sonata”).

This was a fascinating concert, and it emphasized that the festival’s reach is broad and diverse.  Festival organizer Sylvie Beaudette is to be applauded for bringing it all together.