Senior Emma Ostapeck, a clarinet player and Music Education major, shares her experience uniting musicianship with faith in the summer of 2013.
Tell us a little about the music program you attended this summer.
This past summer I attended the MasterWorks Festival for the Christian Performing Artist in the quaint, small town of Winona Lake, Indiana. The festival is available to young orchestral musicians, pianists, actors, singers, and dancers who are serious about their art forms and strive to strengthen their relationship with God. About 250 students and I attended the MasterWorks Festival from June 16-July 14.
What was your typical daily schedule like?
Every day we ate breakfast, had orchestra rehearsal, ate lunch while listening to a faculty devotional, had quiet time, had a few hours of free time, ate dinner, and then broke into small groups for bible study. We were given new music and had a different conductor every week. Rehearsals were Monday through Saturday, and then we put on a concert Saturday night. We rehearsed with chamber groups and had a private lesson each week as well. Aside from the many hours spent practicing and rehearsing, I really enjoyed exploring the town and drinking chai tea lattes at the local coffee shop.
What’s the funniest thing that happened to you?
One afternoon my roommate, Lauren, and I were hanging out by a small pond and saw a toad. Lauren wanted to see if the toad could swim, so she kicked him in the water! Luckily it could swim, but it could not get itself out of the water. I didn’t want the poor thing to drown, so I knelt down and tried to scoop him out. Needless to say, the toad survived and I became known as the silly animal lover.
What was the most beneficial part of your time in the program?
My most beneficial experience was definitely playing principal for Verdi’s Overture to La Forza del Destino. There is a very lyrical clarinet solo in the middle of the piece, and the conductor constantly asked for me to play louder. I realized that I did not have a choice. I would either figure out some way to produce more sound, or I would no longer be playing the solo. I learned some helpful techniques (one of which involves a balloon) from the other clarinet players, and I was told after the concert that I played so loudly that every one of my notes in the solo was clearly heard. I was able to prove to myself that if I worked really hard, I could overcome some of my setbacks in my clarinet playing that I did not think could be changed.
What was your biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge I faced was managing the time between practicing and having fun. There were many days when I chose to walk down to the lake or get ice cream and put off practicing. It was difficult spending 1-2 hours in a practice room when there were so many other things to do outside!
How did your time at Converse help prepare you for this program?
Playing in the Converse Symphony Orchestra has certainly helped me prepare for this festival. I had minimal orchestral experience before coming to Converse, and playing in the Symphony for three years has made me comfortable being a leader in the wind section.
How have your experiences helped you as a musician? How will they benefit you in the future?
During the festival, I performed very challenging music, including Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony and Berlioz’s SymphonyFantastique, which I will very likely never have the opportunity to perform again. I was exposed to a new level of performing at MasterWorks. These musicians are perfectionists and spend hours practicing to ensure that every note is in tune, every dynamic is audible, and every articulation is expressed. I was able to experience the difference between simply playing the notes on the page and actually making music. I learned a lot of new techniques and ways to approach playing music that I plan to continue to use for years to come.
Who would you recommend this program to?
MasterWorks is designed for musicians, actors, and dancers between the ages of 14-26 who want to improve their art form in a Christian environment. More information can be found at www.masterworksfestival.org.