Williamsburg, Va. (Sept.17, 2018) – On September 10, the Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra (WSO) opened its 35th season with a bang, featuring internationally recognized violinist Stefan Jackiw. But just two days before the initiation of the season,the Symphony sponsored a masterclass with the acclaimed artist, continuing its long tradition of educational outreach in the community.
The masterclass, which was free and open to the public, allowed five talented young violinists—Jaysen Kang, Matthew Fan, Yunseo Chung, Caleb Song, and Marco Sun—to perform solo pieces for Mr. Jackiw. Thirty observers were also present. For the young musicians who played, the masterclass was a rare opportunity to receive individualized instruction from a seasoned touring professional. “It was a life changing experience,” wrote Matthew Fan, “I learned a lot about how to improve my bow control...[and] not to over exaggerate my body movement.” Beyond learning techniques for specific circumstances, the musicians received invaluable critiques and recommendations on their musical interpretation, which is the main purpose of masterclasses. Nuance is what ultimately sets the most celebrated soloists apart from the many technically adept musicians in the world,and the WSO’s free masterclasses are helping inspire local musicians to attain a higher level of mastery of their instrument.
Five years ago, Stefan Jackiw performed with the Symphony and gave a masterclass. Caleb Song, ten years old at the time, participated in the masterclass. Jackiw was a major inspiration motivating Song to continue his musical journey and improve rapidly. Song, who is now fifteen years old, has gone on to be co-concertmaster of the Williamsburg Youth Orchestras and to lead his own professional ensemble,the W Quartet. Caleb also participated in this month’s class and had the chance to meet his mentor once again. “It was an honor to play again for Mr. Jackiw, 5 years later,” Song wrote. “I still have his autograph with him addressing me as‘[his] fellow violinist’ which inspired me even more as he recognized me despite my young age and ability…I remain as his admiring fan.”
The WSO’s free masterclasses are just one of its many educational initiatives. The Symphony’s“Instruments for Kids” program provides free instruments to local students unable to afford them for as long as they play the instrument. It also strives to perform Peter and the Wolf at every elementary school in the area once every five years thanks to the generosity of the late John Jamison. The WSO also holds a Side-by-Side concert in which Symphony musicians perform alongside the Williamsburg Youth Orchestras, a wonderful and inspirational experience for budding artists. The Symphony also offers music teachers at local schools the opportunity to request professional musicians to teach instrumental coaching sessions with their students. All of the educational programs of the Williamsburg Symphony are provided at no cost and are underwritten by donors, foundations and WSO League support. It is eternally grateful to its generous donors, without whose support these projects would not be possible.