Last week, on February 18th and 19th, over 50 string students from Ridley College and other local schools gathered together for The Ridley String Fling. This was a day of workshops lead by professional string musicians: Brian Baty on double bass, from the Niagara Symphony Orchestra (NSO), and members of the Penderecki String Quartet (PSQ) – the resident quartet at Sir Wilfrid Laurier University.
35 students from Ridley and 20 guest students participated in three workshop sessions on Thursday. String students began the day at 10:00a.m. in rehearsal rooms around the campus, divided according their instrument: violin, viola, cello and double bass. After lunch, The Student String Quartet made up of Petrina Mo, Ryan Craig (both from Ridley), Logan Imans (Laura Secord) and Jeremy Tang (Wheatley School) rehearsed the Haydn String Quartet No. 6 in Eb major with Jerzy Kaplanek and Christine Vlajk of the Penderecki Quartet. Back in the Memorial Chapel the majority of String Fling participants rehearsed in full orchestra on four pieces, under the direction of Mr. Hutton and Mr. Vernon, with expert advice from Jeremy Bell, Katie Schlaikjer (PSQ) and Brian Baty (NSO). Many of the student participants had never performed in a large string orchestra such as this, so the experience was enlightening. The sound of the group was quite loud and resonant in the remarkable acoustics of the Memorial Chapel.
On Friday, Lower School students in grades 5 – 8 had the privilege of attending an outreach concert put on by the Niagara Youth Orchestra at Partridge Hall in the new downtown Performing Arts Centre. In the evening, the String Fling participants met again in the Memorial Chapel to perform in concert with the Penderecki String Quartet. The Chapel was packed with performers and supporters. Six years ago, Ridley held a similar string event, which included about 25 participants. This year’s event highlights the growth that has occurred in music and string playing at Ridley. Students are finding more ways to flourish in their artistic pursuits.
– Mr. Scott Vernon, Visual and Performing Arts Subject Coordinator and Lower School Music Teacher