SARAH SEELEY TIMES & TRANSCRIPT -- Friday, March 2, 2018
Erica Fisher had never been on a plane until Wednesday when she and seven other New Brunswick students boarded a flight for Mexico City to attend an international orchestra workshop.
The young musicians were chosen for “Encounters,” a four-day workshop led by some of the world’s most prominent composers and conductors.
Ken MacLeod, president and CEO of the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra, said one of the conductors is Gustavo Dudamel, the music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra in Venezuela.
Dudamel got his start in music through the El Sistema program, a social initiative for children and the model on which New Brunswick’s program is based. The “Encounters” workshop is organized through the Gustavo Dudamel Foundation and 150 students from North, South and Central America were invited to the event at the National Theatre in Mexico City, said MacLeod.
Of the 12 Canadians attending, eight are from New Brunswick.
“His own motivation is centred on this profound belief in music’s power to unite and inspire people,” MacLeod said.
The students will learn tips from renowned musicians, meet new friends and share in another country’s culture.
“This is an opportunity for international exchange to form relationships and friendships across boundaries.”
Erica, 15, got her first music lessons through New Brunswick’s Sistema program when she was in Grade 2. She said she didn’t know much about music before she started the program.
“As soon as I started, I really loved it,” she said in an interview before the trip.
After completing the Sistema program, she was encouraged to audition for the NBYO and earned a spot playing viola.
She said she wasn’t expecting to be picked to go to Mexico. Now the Grade 9 Harrison Trimble High School student has the chance to learn from one of Sistema’s successes.
“That’s going to be a really new experience for me,” she said.
Arturo Márquez is another composer who will be instructing at the workshop. Erica said the NBYO has played some Márquez pieces in the past and is looking forward to learning more of his music.
“It’s dancing music. It’s really fun to play,” she said.
Before the trip, Erica diligently practised the repertoire to get ready for the workshop.
She thinks she may be starstruck when she meets Márquez for the first time, she said.
“It’s like if you were a hockey player playing with someone in the NHL.”
Erica is joined by Grace Hamilton, Chloe Brubacher, Vincent Mambo, Zoë LeBlanc, Jocelyn Blanchette and Isaac Phi from the Moncton area and Gawon Suh of Quispamsis.
Erica said she can’t wait to experience the warm climate of Mexico and practise her Spanish.
“I love making music with my friends,”she said.