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Bach Festival New Young Artists inspire youth

Camille Doty

By Camille Doty
June 5, 2012 at 1:05 a.m.
Updated June 6, 2012 at 1:06 a.m.

Laura Miller was drawn to the bassoon since middle school. It was love at first sound. The 25-year-old Jupiter, Fla., native tested other woodwind instruments, but they didn't quite suit her personality. She preferred the deeper sounds.

One of Miller's music teachers not only inspired her, but became one of her role models. The University of Texas-Austin graduate wanted to pay it forward in Victoria on Tuesday.

"I want to give back to the kids what my teacher gave to me," she said.

The bassoonist and Soprano Esteli Gomez came to the Crossroads as one of the 2012 New Young Artists for the Victoria Bach Festival. This segment of the program started about 20 years ago to give up-and-coming artists a platform.

Victoria Bach Festival began in 1976 under the direction of David Urness with the sponsorship of the University of Houston-Victoria. Grammy-nominated Craig Hella Johnson, who serves as the festival's artistic director, strives to showcase the work of J.S. Bach as well as composers from various backgrounds. This year's festival focuses on American composers.

The five-day festivities include orchestral, choral and chamber work performed by acclaimed artists on both regional and local levels. Each day, there are free concerts open to the public and evening shows.

Miller stayed to meet young fans after the noon concert at First United Methodist Church.

"You're good, you're really good," said Adrian Ybarra to the bassoonist. The music was soothing. "It makes me sleepy, like a bedtime story," he said.

The inquisitive 8-year-old wanted to know why Miller's face turned red when she performed.

The former music performance major asked Adrian to hold his breath and within seconds his face turned cherry red. Adrian said he would like to play music someday, but he decided the guitar was more his speed.

Miller visited the Boys & Girls Club of Victoria to bring music to the community. During their Victoria stint, the New Young Artists visit school-aged centers and assisted-living facilities.

"Music can be applied to all settings," said Faith DeBow, the new young artist coordinator.

LeTrice Youngblood, the club program director, said the festival exposes children to various forms of music.

"It touches me to have them come see us because they don't get to listen to classical music every day," she said.

Some of the students were familiar with Mozart. Everyone knew about "Sound of Music" classic "Do Re Me." Instead of just belting out the notes, Gomez and Miller engaged the students through movement. The children came out of their shells as they waved their hands to the beat.

"It always surprises me what interests the kids," said Gomez.

Some of the younger children giggled to the sound of the double reed. Others didn't want to stop, even in quiet time. However, the musical trifecta taught the students "Blue Danube" by Strauss with patience and enthusiasm.

Ariana Marroquin said making her own music was pretty cool.

For the past three years, Ariana has looked forward to learning more from the performing artists.

"Music is not just about rap, pop, and rock 'n' roll. It's made to inspire us," Ariana said. The 11-year-old Hopkins Academy Elementary student said she wants to use music as a stepping stone to go to college and eventually become a doctor.

Miller was thrilled that Ariana and the others took interest in the workshop, but she will implement a different strategy next time.

"I'll wait to the very, very end to pass out the reeds," she said.



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