Posts Tagged ‘Idyllwild Arts Summer Program’

Poet Targets Taboo Topic Tuesday Night

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

Matthew Dickman with Ed Skoog and his infant son

By Marcia E. Gawecki

“It’s called three poems and three suicides,” Matthew Dickman said matter-of-factly about the title of his upcoming poetry recital.

He’s a poet from Portland, and at the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program this week to teach an adult poetry class. On Tuesday night at 7 p.m., Matthew will read along with four other poets at the Krone Library on campus.

Matthew has firsthand experience with suicide, which is often considered a taboo subject in our culture. His older brother committed suicide, along with several of his friends who were artists.

“We often think of teens as the biggest group that commits suicide,” Matthew said. “But actually geriatric suicide is more common. When an 85-year-old grandmother quits eating, we accept that as ‘her time to go.'”

In past lectures on suicide, Matthew has asked members of the audience to stand if they have had a family member commit suicide. A few stand up. Then he asks those who had a spouse, lover or close friend commit suicide to stand. A larger group stands up. Then he asks those who have known someone from school or work who have committed suicide.

“By then, most of the audience are standing,” Matthew explained. “And those who are sitting fall into one of those groups, but are too shy to stand. Unfortunately, in our culture, it’s just a matter of time when you know of someone who has committed suicide.”

He said that his older brother was a great person, and had attempted suicide before, so it wasn’t a surprise. He recounted an experience with him in an Irish Pub in Portland:

“It got really crowded in the bar towards the end of the night and I bumped into a guy with my shoulder. It was an accident, but he grabbed me squarely on the shoulder,” Matthew recalled. “In the bar mirror, I could see the flash of a knife blade, so I tried to push him away. Within seconds, my older brother was there, shoving the guy up against the wall.”

Violence was more common than not in the working class Portland neighborhood where Matthew grew up.  His family home was a safe oasis for many kids, away from the neighborhood violence.

Matthew will teach a poetry class at Idyllwild Arts this week

At a young age, Matthew identified with a photo of the Beat Poets standing on a San Francisco street corner.

“There they were, Kerouac, Ginsberg and the rest, all standing there, not wanting to fight anyone or push drugs,” Matthew recalled. “They just wanted to change the world with their poetry.”

Later on, Matthew met Alan Ginsberg at a book signing in Portland.

“My brother handed me a bunch of Ginsberg’s books and told me to get them signed, and we’d meet up at the coffee house later,” Matthew said.

So he went, and when it came time for him to meet the Beat Poet, Matthew mentioned that his writer aunt had once worked with Ginsberg in a hospital.

“He ignored my comment, and instead asked me about my love life,” Matthew said.

He fumbled for an answer, Ginsberg signed the books and Matthew walked away.

“He was totally hitting on you, dude,” his friends said. “You should talk to him.”

When the crowd thinned out, Matthew ended up talking to Ginsberg, and invited him to join his twin brother and friends at a local coffee shop. Ginsberg was in his 70s at the time, and Matthew was 18.

“He was totally cool,” Matthew said of the experience.

They read poetry, practiced Buddhism and ate chocolates over the next few days. He said that he and Ginsberg had kept in touch by email and phone until he became sick.

“Then I never heard from him again,” Matthew said.

After his death, Matthew wrote a poem called, “I miss you, Alan Ginsberg.”

Matthew also wrote a poem about his older brother’s suicide in his first book of poetry, “All American Poem” (2008). With his twin brother, Michael, he wrote another book entitled, “50 American Plays” (2012), one for each state. In October, Matthew has another poetry book coming out entitled, “Mayaknovky’s Revolver.”

In his poetry class this week, Matthew prefers to put the suicide topic front and center so there’s no surprises. He said most of the adults who take his class come to heal from the experience.

“I don’t expect great writing,” he said. “Oftentimes, words escape you when your emotions are intense.”

But he hopes to help them turn their harrowing experience into art.

Matthew said that he met Ed Skoog, who is in charge of Poetry Workshop during the Summer Program, when he officiated at his brother’s wedding.

“Not only can Ed write poetry, but he plays a mean banjo,” Matthew laughed.

Besides teaching poetry, Matthew edits a national poetry journal, and freelances for advertising agencies. Only just recently, he said, he’s been able to support himself through his writing.

He started writing poetry when he was a sophomore in high school to impress a senior who was interested in poetry.

“She liked one of my poems, and we got to make out,” Matthew recalled. “After that, I just kept writing.”

Since then, Matthew has won many awards, and garnered national attention for his lyrical poems.

On Tuesday, July 17, Matthew will read some of his works at 7 p.m. at the Krone Library on the Idyllwild Arts campus (located at the end of Tollgate Road in Idyllwild). Like all events at Idyllwild Arts, it is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Idyllwild Arts at (951) 659-2171 or visit www.idyllwildarts.org.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Op Art Ceramics at Quiet Creek Gallery Saturday

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Op Art Vessels

This afternoon, Saturday, July 7, Quiet Creek Living Room Gallery in Idyllwild will host one of the final receptions of award-winning porcelain ceramicist Leslie Thompson of Ojai.

After three decades of decorating her ceramics with designs influenced by Op Art and pattern weaving from Native American and Amish cultures, Leslie will ‘retire’ from painting and focus on fine pattern weaving.

“We are privileged to host one of Leslie’s final ceramics exhibitions, featuring recent and  finally carved masterpieces,” said Mike Ahern from the Quiet Creek Gallery. “They are truly heirloom pieces.”

The intricate patterns on these hand-crafted “vessels” resemble patterns found on Native American blankets or wall hangings. What Indians have created with a needle and thread, Leslie has managed with a brush and paint. Each pattern creates an optical illusion, making her pots look multi-dimensional.

Op art works are abstract, with many popular pieces made in only black and white. When you look at them, there is an impression of movement, vibrations, swelling, warping and even “hidden” images. Some of the designs in Leslie’s work can look like an aerial view of a staircase, or the texture of a pine cone, depending upon the viewer’s perspective.

According to various web sites, Op Art was derived from the constructivist practices of the German Bauhaus School which stressed the relationship between form and function. Some better-known artists associated with the Op Art style include Julian Stanczak, Victor Vasalery, John McHale and Arnold Schmidt.

Leslie paints optical illusions onto her pots

To her credit, Leslie has won awards from all over the world, including Europe. She has shown in 30 galleries, but now has limited them to a select few, including Wellfleet, Massachusettes; Sedona, Arizona; Sausalito, California and Idyllwild.

“Leslie’s pieces are one-of-a-kind, last-of-a-kind, and will be collectable over time,” Mike added.

Mike said that he first met Leslie three years ago when she was staying at the Quiet Creek Inn and taking a Navajo weaving class at the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program. Since then, Mike has been featuring her pottery at the Quiet Creek Living Room Gallery.

“Leslie has been doing this challenging work for several decades and feels that it is appropriate to retire this media of her art,” Mike explained. “It has indeed put demands on her hands, wrists, eyes over the years, and now she’s ready to focus on her other chosen medium–weaving.”

There will be a champagne reception for Leslie Thompson’s work on Saturday, July 7 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Quiet Creek Living Room Gallery, located at 54300 North Circle Drive in Idyllwild. The event is free and open to the public.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Photographer Returns for More Mountain ‘Magic’

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

"It's the people who brought me back to the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program," said Paula Harding, photographer.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

“There’s something magical about this mountain,” said Paula Harding, 20, photographer for the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program, when she arrived yesterday. “But it’s the people who brought me back.”

The Idyllwild Arts Summer Program attracts many talented young people from across the country to work as camp counselors, teachers assistants and instructors. Once they work here, they’re likely to return.

This year, some are spending their 5th summer at Idyllwild Arts. This is Paula’s second year.

Famous instructors from the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program include Ansel Adams, Bella Lewitsky and Ray Bradbury, who passed away this year.

To get the job originally, Paula got a good recommendation from her high school teacher who also worked as a Summer Program photographer.

“She actually worked here when Emma and Bruce McMenamin were just camp counselors!” Paula said. “She’s so jealous that I get to come back to Idyllwild again this year!”

Tall and stylish with a Southern drawl, Paula is well liked by her fellow campers.

“OMG it’s Paula!” several of them screamed as the van pulled up to her dorm.

From Paula Harding's award-winning 'Abandonment' series

“We just love her!” exclaimed Gigi, a lifeguard last summer, but a camp counselor this year. “She’s a Georgia peach!”

Although Paula is friendly, she does her best to stay “invisible” when she’s working. Her day starts at 8 a.m., and she does the rounds to all of the classes, which can be as many as 15 when summer is in full swing.

After  class time, Paula attends lectures, art shows, plays and musical performances. Oftentimes, her day ends at 8 p.m. She turns her digital photos over to Bruce McMenamin, who crops them and decides where to best use them.

On an average day, Paula shoots 500 photographs. Last summer, she shot a grand total of 40,000 photos.

“Of course, they don’t use them all!” she said, as she was looking over the printed version of the adult class schedule. Bruce had sent her several copies in the mail. “Bruce said that I’m the only one whose shot that many!”

Paula used an old box camera for this photo in her 'Abandonment' series

Paula said that Bruce doesn’t expect her to take that many photographs, but she always wants to put her best foot forward. They both agreed that her photos got increasingly better as the summer went on.

“You just never know with photographs,” Paula said. “You can capture a moment that is special, but you have to take a lot of photos to get there.”

Besides the printed class schedules, Paula’s pictures are featured on the web site, and even in a Family Camp multi-media presentation.

Last year, Paula said the Family Camp slide show was a nail-biter.

“I was uploading photos until the last minute,” she confessed. “I wanted to put in as many current ones as I could.”

The 20-minute show had to be set to music, and minutes before it began, the equipment didn’t work.

It was mostly “operator error,” because she wasn’t familiar with the equipment. But the show went on without a hitch, except one family’s photos were left out.

“This year, I’ve learned from my mistakes, and I’m going to work from a master list of Family Camp members, and check them off as I go. I’d hate for anyone to be left out again!”

“It’s the best job on the mountain,” Paula exclaimed. “I don’t have to go to meetings, and I get to see firsthand what everyone is doing at Idyllwild Arts.”

'Abandonment' series by Paula Harding

You would think that after taking as many as 500 photos a day, Paula would want to do something else in her free time.

“I love taking portraits,” Paula said. “But landscapes are challenging for me. I’d like to take more of Idyllwild. There’s so much natural beauty all around me!”

For the daily shoots, Paula uses the school’s Nikon digital camera, but prefers Canons for her personal use.

“Overall, Canons deliver warmer tones, while Nikon’s colors tend to be cooler,” Paula said.

Although she’s modest about her photographic abilities, Paula has won many awards, in high school and in college, including a recent one for her “Abandonment” series. For those, Paula took pictures of abandoned buildings and people.

Was she referring to the homeless in Atlanta?

“Not exactly,” she said. “You’ll have to look at them and see.”

To view samples of Paula’s work, visit the Idyllwild Arts web site at www.idyllwildarts.org, and click on the Summer Program, and then select the Youth or Adult Course Catalogs. On Flickr (www.flickr.com), Paula won “Best Use of B&W” for the “My Atlanta” photo contest.

Paula also plans to show some of her photographs during the staff art show this summer at the Parks Exhibition Center. She doesn’t have a web site set up yet, but you can reach her at: paulaharding823@yahoo.com.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

 

Where’s Leo? He’s Playing for the Queen of Sweden

Monday, August 15th, 2011

'He's the best violinist in Germany right now,' said Christoph Wynecken of Leo, age 15.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

When the 10 German students took a day off from their music lessons at Idyllwild Arts to swim at Laguna Beach on Sunday, someone was missing.

“Where’s Leo?” I asked Christoph Wynecken, who teaches violin and viola during the Summer Program.

Wynecken has been bringing his music students from Stuttgart, and other cities in Germany to Idyllwild to play in the Chamber Orchestra for eight years now.

Part of their California experience is going to the beach on Sundays.

Last year, Leo and the other German students went to Venice Beach to experience its zany characters and arts peddlers on the boardwalk (See ‘German Students See Sand and Surf,’ Idyllwild Me blog entry, dated Aug. 16.)

Leo was a typical 14-year-old, chatting incessantly in German, rough housing with his friends and taking pictures of everything. He even warmed up to the idea of going to the Armand Hammer Art museum after the beach.

“Why do we have to go?” Leo asked, sunburned and tired.

“Because there’s more to California than just beaches,” Christoph said. “There’s a lot of culture here.”

During the many orchestra and chamber concerts performed during the summer, Christoph gave Leo, the youngest violinist, a chance to play first chair.

“We are more casual about first chair, and second chair in Germany,” Christoph said later Sunday night at In-and-Out Burger in Moreno Valley. “But he did a fine job of leading the orchestra.”

So where is Leo, the violin prodigy?

“He’s playing for the Queen of Sweden,” Christoph said with a smile.

He didn’t elaborate on the details, but it sounded like Leo has already performed for the queen several times. Not a bad gig for a pre-teen.

(from L) Christoph gives instructions to German students at Venice Beach last year.

It stands to reason that Queen Silvia, who was born in Heidelberg, and married King Carl XVI  Gustaf of Sweden, after meeting him at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, would want to hear a promising young German violin player.

According to reports, the two “clicked” during the Summer Olympics and were married three months later. It was the first marriage of a reigning Swedish monarch since 1797.

All that royalty news aside, the fact remains that Leo isn’t coming back to the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program, or Christoph’s orchestra, for that matter.

“He’s the best violin player in Germany right now,” Christoph said definitively.

Did Christoph see it coming? Did he know that Leo was gifted in Idyllwild last summer?

“I could smell it,” Christoph said. “A musician like him comes along once every 50 years.”

He brushed aside any notion that he groomed Leo into the promising young violin player that he is today.

“He will likely have a great solo career,” Christoph predicted.

No agent to push him, Leo will likely finish high school, before starting his music career. But Christoph has some consiliation in losing Leo. His brother is also a gifted violin player, and he’s been teaching him the ropes.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Aug 15, 2011 @ 21:39

 

Youth Jazz Concert Saturday Afternoon

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Louis Armstrong art banner at Cafe Aroma. A summer jazz student wrote a song about a club in New Orleans where Sachmo hung out. It will be played at the IAF Theater on Saturday.

 

By Marcia E. Gawecki

The slow, distinct jazz sound came wafting into the reception area at Idyllwild Arts. Unmoved, the girl behind the desk kept typing on her computer. But like the smell of home-cooked meal, it was drawing me in.

“It’s the jazz band practicing for Saturday’s concert,” the girl said.

I snuck in during one of their numbers, and sat in the back row. There was no one else in the large auditorium.

Onstage, a student with a saxophone around his neck was directing the group of 11 young students, mostly teenage boys and one girl. In total, there were three saxophones, two electric guitars, two trumpets, two trombones, two drummers and one pianist.

“Play loud so I can hear it,” instructed Ben, their student leader.

Ron Stout, their jazz band leader, had to leave early to go to a gig, Ben said later.

The song the group played was called, “Funky Butt,” and it was written by Ben, age 14.

‘Funky Butt’ got its name from the “Funky Butthole,” a New Orleans club in the 1920s, Ben explained. It was kind of a raunchy place, where gangsters, whores, pimps and musicians hung out, including the great Louis Armstrong.

“The reason the song is so slow is because everyone wanted to make the night last as long as possible,” Ben said. “The musicians played all night so everyone could keep dancing.”

Another song the summer jazz students will be playing Saturday afternoon is called, “Blue Rondo a la Turk,” arranged by Dave Brubeck.

“We almost didn’t get to play it, if it wasn’t for Randy,” Ben said.

When someone in the band suggested playing “Blue Rondo” for the conertt, Ron said that he didn’t have all the sheet music. But if someone could arrange it, he’d take a look at it.

That’s when Randy Plummer, age 17, a sax player from Riverside, CA, stepped in. In a day and a half, Randy wrote the other band parts so that everyone would have the “Blue Rondo” music.

“That’s really fast, dude,” Ben said.

Randy, who looks more like a football player than a saxman, was modest about his efforts.

“I just grabbed a pen and paper and started writing,” he said.

Obviously, he was motivated to play the song. For his efforts, you’ll get to hear him play a solo for a few seconds on Saturday.

“How can both of you know so much about jazz when you’re only 14 and 17?” I asked, thinking of Louis, Miles and Ella, whose health and looks took a toll.

“People tell me that I’m an ‘old soul,'” Randy said.

“Funky Butt” and “Blue Rondo a la Turk” will be part of the music lineup at the Youth Jazz Concert on Saturday, July 23, at 1 p.m. at the IAF Theater.

All concerts at Idyllwild Arts are free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.idyllwildarts.org or call (951) 659-2171.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Jul 21, 2011 @ 12:58

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Students Try Candid Photography at Venice Beach

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

Venice Beach offered a plethora of treasures to the young photo students

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Yesterday, the photography class from the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program went on a field trip to Los Angeles. Like their B&W photography, it was a trip of direct contrasts.

They went from the elegant art studios at Bergamot Station to the eclectic outdoor chaos of Venice Beach.

Most of the 11-to-13-year olds in the class had never been to either place. At Bergamot, they were encouraged to visit the galleries dedicated to photography, including the Peter Fetterman Gallery and the Rose Gallery.

There, the students had to do their homework. Each had to select one photograph and critique it.

“There’s a whole laundry list of things we have to look for,” explained Alex, a student from Idyllwild Arts Academy who is also taking this summer photography class. “Basically, they want us to see what works and what doesn’t.”

“Make sure that you ask the gallery if it’s OK to take photographs,” advised Eric Metzler, their photography instructor, who also teaches at Idyllwild Arts during the school year.

Instructor Eric Metzler views Tomoko Sawada's "Reflections" at the Rose Gallery at Bergamot Station

In the Peter Fetterman Gallery, one student was critiquing a photo by Elliott Erwitt, entitled, “Man with Two Dogs.”

The black-and-white photograph featured two large bulldogs with their owner seated on the steps of a Brownstone, possibly in New York.

The artist’s twist was that the second bulldog, sitting on the man’s lap, totally obscured his image. (All you could see was his left ear). In short, it looked like Sci-Fi hybrid of a bulldog’s head with a man’s body.

“I think the artist is trying to say that men are dogs,” said the young female student.

Several other famous photos of Elliott Erwitt’s were on display in the gallery, notably couples kissing.

“They’re definitely staged,” said Jenny Kirchner, one of the van drivers on the trip, who is also an award-winning photojournalist. “That’s OK, they’re still great.”

French photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson, the master of photojournalism who perfected “street photography,” didn’t stage his photos. He just had a keen sense of when things would appear, his wife said in an article.

Students had the option of photographing the beach also

Likewise, Erwitt’s photos were not staged, argued Margaret, another student.

“They’re ingenius, like the one of the couple kissing in the sideview mirror,” she said. “Most photographers would photograph themselves, but he got out of the way and took one of them.”

After Bergamot, armed with their 35 mm cameras (no digitals allowed), rolled film, tripods and lenses in hand, the group of young photographers then set out to capture Venice Beach. Eric gave them ample time for their “plein air” photography experience, from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.. They would leave L.A. just before sunset.

Like Cartier-Bresson, many of the students took pictures of bodybuilders, skateboarders and basketball players. None wanted to “tip” to Spider Man and Elvis for their photos as they walked along Venice’s Boardwalk.

“Bye, Spider Man!” shouted a young girl walking hand-in-hand with her mom. “I know you’re not really Spider Man, but a man in a suit.”

“Aw, you really don’t believe that!” said Spider Man, as he sat rubbing his feet.

Other candid “photo opportunities” on the Venice Boardwalk included: a man with multitude of hats stacked on top of one another; a snake charmer on a ladder holding two green snakes; a man with a cardboard sign offering passersby the opportunity to “Kiss My Ass for $2,” medical marijuana huts; a peripeligic on a skateboard; and young girls in bikinis shopping.

With her digital camera, Jenny took pictures of skateboarders doing tricks. Then, she handed them her card and said that they’d be posted on her web site later on that evening.

“If they like the photograph, then I’ll just charge them a nominal amount for printing,” Jenny said.

In her web site, Jenny has a built-in security device that won’t allow people to steal her images.

In the backdrop, of course, was Venice Beach–with it’s miles of coastline, surfers, swimmers and seagulls.

I found a “No Swimming” area where the surf sprayed over some large rocks. It would happen only occasionally, like a humpback whale coming up and spouting air, but it was a wonderful cascade!

At day's end, a Venice Beach seagull rests for a moment on a parked car

On the way back, some of the students groaned about having to develop their film in the darkroom. Cartier-Bresson despised printing his own prints too.

“I get nervous whenever I go in there,” admitted Margaret. “So I give myself little pep talks, saying, ‘You can do this!'”

Amelia, another student agreed.

“I always manage to get chemicals on my fingertips, so they make smudges on my prints,” she confessed. “I don’t think I’ve ever come up with a ‘perfect print.'”

How did their Venice Beach photos came out?

You can actually view their photos at an exhibit at the end of next week. The details of the students’ one-day exhibit TBA.

For more information on the Black-and-White Photography class or other Summer Programs, visit www.idyllwildarts.org or call (951) 659-2171.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

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No Stopping Biting Flies

Monday, July 4th, 2011

There's no stopping the biting flies

By Marcia E. Gawecki

As summer settles in Idyllwild, there is one formidable nemesis. Actually billions of them: biting flies.

They can come upon you without warning, leaving red welts that sometimes itch for days. Instead of spraying insecticides, some Idyllwild locals are just staying inside.

“I was raking the yard and one bit me in the hand,” said Dan Carpenter, a local from Fern Valley. “It swelled into the size of a walnut for a couple of days.”

Others who are trying to abate their yards have changed their schedules to raking only in the early morning or at dusk, before the flies really became a nuisance.

“I’ve never seen the flies so bad,” said Lindsay, a counselor from San Francisco who has worked at the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program for the past three years.

During Family Camp this week, she said they’re moving a lot of activities inside because of the flies.

“We used to host dinners for the families under the canopy in the Holmes Ampitheater, but the flies are too annoying,” she said.

Although most Family Camp members at Idyllwild Arts have been coming back year after year, they won’t be disappointed at the change, Lindsay said.

“Bugs are part of the camp experience,” she said. “They understand that.”

When we asked those at the Idyllwild Ranger Station about the flies, they didn’t have any new answers.

“We had a wet spring, so that’s why there’s more flies around,” said one of the volunteers at the front desk. “We just put on Off!”

The flies bite dogs and cats too

Insect repellants like Off! only work for a short time, claimed another local.

“On fly bit me right through my shirt,” he said, exposing a red welt that looked like chicken pox.

Domestic pets are not immune to the biting flies either. They swarm, biting their backs and causing them to jump. Sherman, the horse on Hwy. 243, has had a hood on every day.

One woman who was out raking her yard with her two cats tried to offer them some relief. She didn’t want to put Off! (made for humans) onto their fur, but sprayed on cat tick repellant instead.

“But that only worked for a short time until the cats rolled into the dirt and licked it off,” she said.

Yet, the Rotary’s Fourth of July Parade on Monday morning will have some respite.

Weather conditions are calling for cloudy skies with a chance of thunderstorms, said Sue Westphal, as she walked her dog, Sam.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Jul 4, 2011 @ 16:58

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Art Students Building Houses During Spring Break

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Idyllwild Arts faculty Karen and Chris help out with the ongoing bake sale to raise money for Habitat for Humanity

By Marcia E. Gawecki

During Spring Break this year, honor students from Idyllwild Arts won’t be basking on the beaches, but building houses for migrant farm workers.

This co-ed group of about 10 students who attend this high school arts boarding school are giving up their coveted one week spring break (from March 20 to March 27) to build houses for Habitat for Humanity in Oxnard, California, where there is a large population of migrant farm workers.

Habitat for Humanity was chosen because it is unrivaled in its organizational structure and specializes in dealing with students who are new to volunteerism.

“In a culture of Facebook and fast food, it is far too easy to loose touch with those in need in world around us,” said Chris Wegemer, a Physics teacher at Idyllwild Arts and one of the three chaperones. “We will experience California from a perspective that we have never seen before, exposing us to poverty and injustice right on our doorstep.”

He added that it is a great way for the students to address controversial immigrant and migrant worker issues. This is not the first time that Idyllwild Arts and migrant farm workers have crossed paths.

For years, the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program, along with the Monterey County Office of Education (MCOE), have been providing scholarships to migrant worker’s kids from California. Idyllwild Arts picks up the classes, room and board, while MCOE picks up the students’ flights and guardianship, said Diane Dennis, the registrar at Idyllwild Arts.

“In working together, we can cause change here and now, with our own two hands,” Chris added.

Arts students buy and preview the bake sale after an all-school meeting

Over the past two weeks, the students hosted a bake sale on campus. There were cookies, brownies, pound cake and trail mixes made by students and faculty alike. Nothing was priced, but all donations went into a cardboard box in the shape of a house.

So far, they’ve raised $600, which is only a fraction of their $3,300 goal. However, other fundraising events are  planned, including a “coffee house” style concert on campus to raise awareness for Habitat for Humanity.

The high goal comes from the need for each of the 10 students to bring a $145 donation fee. The fee goes to supplies for the houses, which covers everything from drywall to electrical sockets to plumbing.

Chris said that the students do not need practical carpentry experience, only a willingness to help.

“They are an amazing group of kids,” said Chris. “All of them have done some kind of service work in the past, and they’re eager to use their hands and get dirty to help others.”

The students and other two chaperones, including Daniel Grey and Phil Dunbridge, will live at a community center where they will sleep in sleeping bags.

Chris has told the students how such volunteer experiences can be life changing, how it builds character, forms lasting bonds, and creates a deeper sense of empathy for all those in need.

For more information on the Habitat for Humanity honors project, call Chris at (951) 659-2171.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Student Chamberfest a Surprise & Delight

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

This quintet, which included a 14-year-old prodigy, played Shuber's "The Trout"

By Marcia E. Gawecki

The Student Chamberfest Recital on Wednesday evening, August 18, showcased five soloists and five chamber acts in a relaxed, indoor/outdoor setting at Stephens Recital Hall. Most of the audience members were faculty, staff and friends who had just celebrated the final potluck of the summer. The mood was happy, relaxed, and the students didn’t disappoint them. There were some surprises that included a 14-year-old prodigy and several broken drum heads.

First up was a trombone quartet that played “Achieved in the Glorious Work,” by F.J. Haydn. The group, which included Karl, Allison Jason and Micah, started immediately, and played without pretense.

“That was well done,” exclaimed Andrew Leeson, a writing teacher at Idyllwild Arts Academy, who attended many of the concerts this summer. “A trombone is not an exact instrument and they hit every note.”

When Kevin finished, the audience got to their feetThe next student playing a solo was Kevin, on French horn. He was accompanied by Edith Orloff, a faculty piano teacher. Kevin stood the entire time and played “Concerto in E-flat Major, K 495,” by Mozart. If you were to close your eyes, his horn sounded like a trombone at times. Afterwards, many people in the audience got to their feet, which surprised the young man.

The next soloist was actually a duo playing “Toccata,” by Koppel. It included Lindsey on vibraphone and Lauren on marimba.
“That girl’s really good,” exclaimed Andrew, of Lindsey afterwards. “She could go pro now.”

The two played a duet with double mallets that were moving so fast that they always turned up blurry on camera. The incredible thing is that each of them were hitting four different keys with those mallets at the same time.

(at L) Lindsey and Lauren (R) played Koppel's "Toccata" at a fast pace on vibraphone and marimba

“They’re not necessarily different notes,” said Andrew. “It’s just like fingers on a piano keyboard.”

Yet, the precision, speed and acccuracy of the piece was remarkable. The piece was lively, strong and uptempo, and then it suddenly went soft and smooth.

Next up was Alek on bassoon with Edith Orloff accompanying him. Alek played, “Scherzo in G Minor,” by Miroshnikow.

Rarely do you get a chance to see a bassoonist play up close. Usually they’re cloistered in the back of an orchestra, and one just marvels at the slender size of the instrument. Yet, the mouthpiece is rather ornate with a swan’s neck, and the player has to blow and suck on the reed to make the perfect sound. The effect is not glamourous, with a lot of puffing of the cheeks, but fascinating nonetheless.

“That reed of his is shot now,” Andrew said. “Most bassoonists make their own reeds, and throw them out after each performance.”

The final soloist, Anna Sigmund, a German student on violin, was impressive because of the high notes that she hit in her selection, “Conncerto in E Minor, Op. 64,” by Mendelssohn. Anna stood tall and proud in a black dress and ankle bracelet. But all eyes were on her violin when she commanded the high notes in this moody, intense, and rather long piece.

Anna, a German violinist, commanded the high notes in the Mendelssohn piece

“It’s all in the bow,” Andrew said afterwards. “She didn’t back off from the high notes, like many others would have. In time, she’ll own that piece.”

The first chamber group of the evening included two violins, a viola and a cello. They played, “String Quartet in C Major, K 465,” by Mozart.

The lead violin, Michal, a high school student from Poland, had gone on a Sunday trip to Venice Beach a couple of weeks earlier. He took a lot of pictures of the California scenery, and marveled at the six-lanes on Hwy. 10.

“We don’t have this many lanes on highways in Poland,” he said, taking pictures of the cars and trucks. “But everyone is going very slow. Can’t you go any faster?”

Said like a true impatient teenager.

Along with Zoe, Michael and Tiffany, he played the lively, upbeat Mozart piece with enthusiasm.

The next group played the Shubert favorite, “The Trout,” or “Quintet in A Major, Op. 114.” It included a piano, bass, cello, viola and a 14-year-old violin player from Germany. He sat in the first chair during the first concert of the season.

“He started young, but that doesn’t mean anything,” said Christophe Wyneken, a violin and viola teacher from Germany, who brought him to the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program. “He’s got ability.”

(from L) Michal, a violinist from Poland, played the Mozart piece with authority

Michal agreed. “Leo’s good.”

In this quartet, Leo played like a master. The other players, including Alex, Anna, Dana and Noah, kept looking at him to lead the piece. However, Noah, on piano, held his own, and didn’t get drowned out.

“You’re going to enjoy the flute player in this next piece,” said Andrew, who had heard him perform before.

Dressed in jeans, white shirts and tennis shoes, this group, made up of Kevin on flute, Ross on oboe, Louis on clarinet, Carl on Bassoon and Nick on French horn, looked relaxed for this short piece, “Quintet” by Blumer.

Kevin, who played the flute effortlessly, and sounded like a bird in flight, also was animated, moving about to the music in his seat.

The next group included two violin players,  a viola, cello and double bass, that played, “Quintet in G Major, Op. 77” by Dvorak.

(from L) Mimi, a tiny German violinist with a big sound

Tiny and prim, Mimi, the lead violin player, who is also German, had an incredibly loud sound. She didn’t drown out the other players, but I kept looking for a hidden microphone. How did so much sound come out of a tiny girl with a standard violin?

Grecia, who played the double bass, brought in her huge, unwieldly instrument like a pro. Although it was double wide, it sounded like a standard bass. But it was fun to watch because many of us had never seen one before.

Before the final chamber piece, Jonathan, who was teching the show, invited everyone in the audience to come closer to the stage that was set with drum heads, sticks and pillows. Many students sat and laid on the floor in anticipation.

Leo, a 14-year-old violinist from Germany, played with authority

“You’re really going to love this piece,” exclaimed Andrew, who had seen it performed by the Chamberfest Percussion Ensemble the night before.

The modern piece by M. Ford was called, “Head Talk.” As the name suggests, the four drummers only played drum heads, with drumsticks as they sat cross-legged on the ground.

The piece included some antics, including hitting, rolling, tossing and slapping of the drum heads. They were clear and of varying sizes. When Una, a former Idyllwild Arts student, rolled her drum head to Lindsey, who resumed play, it looked spontaneous.

“That was all written into the piece,” said Una and Lauren later.

But their facial expressions and feined impatience with Severin, the only male drummer, was spontaneous, they said.

Severin sat in front with a dramtic blue scarf tied around his neck. During the piece, he’d bang louder than the others, or bounce the drum head off his head, to the mock disgust of the rest of the girls.

In "Head Talk," the drummers rolled, tossed, hit and slapped only drum heads

Yet, it was a perfectly choreographed piece, that ended with each of the players, Una, Lauren, Mika and Severin, all breaking their own heads through their drum heads at the final bow.

“They cost about $20 bucks each, but we replace them all the time,” explained Una, later of the broken drum heads.

For the finale of "Head Talk," the drummers broke them on their own heads

Many of these students will be playing in the High School Chamberfest Concert today at 1 p.m. It will be held in the IAF Theatre in the Bowman Building. This final concert of the summer is free and open to the public.

German Students See Sand & Surf

Monday, August 16th, 2010

German students at IA meet the Pacific Ocean for the first time

By Marcia E. Gawecki

For the past six years, Christoph Wynecken has been teaching violin and viola to students in the Chamber Orchestra at the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program. Each time he comes, he brings along several students from his orchestra in Germany that has toured Europe, South America and Asia. This time, he brought along seven students aged 14 to 18 years old. As promised, part of their “American experience” was seeing Venice Beach and other Los Angeles tourist attractions.

“You can’t bring these kids halfway around the world, and not show them California,” Christoph said on Sunday, as he was headed for his second trip to Venice Beach. The week before, his group had also visited Disney Hall and the Armand Hammer Museum at UCLA.

A few years ago, Christoph had a rented home right on Venice Beach, as he taught at USC and Idyllwild Arts. He went swimming every day, impervious to the cold water.

(from L) Christoph Wyneken gives last-minute instructions to his German students

“It’s been a great experience living so close to the ocean,” he said.

Many of us in Southern California take beaches for granted. They’re a couple of hours away, and perfect for people watching, especially the crazies at Venice Beach. Yet, Germans don’t have ready access to the ocean, only the North Sea without sand and surf, explained Wayne Parker, one of the Idyllwild Arts van drivers, who has visited there.

Most of the the 10 music students who went to Venice Beach on Sunday were seeing the Pacific Ocean for the first time. When they turned the corner from the alley, they stood in awe for a moment, just smiling at each other.

“Is it true that women have to wear tops on the beaches here?” asked Daniel, a clarinet player, looking at his guide book written in German.

“There are beaches in Germany where women don’t have to wear tops,” Christophe explained.

The Germans blended right in with the rest of the tourists on the Venice Beach boardwalk. That day, some LA police officers were trying to evict an illegal peddler who was angrily resisting. There was the regular reggae guy on rollarskates playing his electric guitar. An Elvis impersonator, dressed in white spandex, posed with tourists for tips. One bum had a handwritten cardboard sign that read: “Why lie? All I want is money for a beer,” and people gave him some. But the one thing the German students marveled at was the “medical marijuana” shops.

German students horseplay

On the way back, they felt the overbearing 100 degree heat in Palm Springs as they dined at an inexpensive steak house. It was too late for them to shop at the Cabazon Outlet Mall.

“Can we stop on the way back and feel the desert sand?” asked Fabian, a violin player.

This seemed like a strange request since they had been walking and playing in the sand at Venice Beach all day.

“We don’t have any deserts in Germany,” explained Christoph. “All of Europe has pretty moderate climate, although we do get snow.”

All of the students, including one American, ran around in the desert sand in the dark along Hwy. 111. They laughed, took pictures of each other, and didn’t want to return, even when Christoph insisted.

They scrambled to return to the dorms at 10 p.m., giddy from seeing the ocean and the desert for the first time.

“These students work really hard all week, and it’s nice to get away for a day,” Christoph explained. “So much of music is in your head, so you have to have a balance of work and play.”

Leo, the youngest violinist at age 14, has been to Venice Beach twice, and has taken hundreds of pictures of Venice Beach, Disney Hall, and even the Armand Hammer Museum, where he didn’t want to go at first.

“Why do we have to go?” he asked, sunburned and tired from the beach.

“Because there’s more to California than just beaches. There’s a lot of culture here,” was the answer.

Leo ended up marveling at the Rembrandts, van Goghs and Singer Sargeants that make up the permanent collection at the Hammer Museum. They allowed him to take photos of them without flash.

Leo and Christoph will leave Idyllwild Arts on Sunday morning, headed for LAX, while some of the German students are staying on in LA for another week. They’ll have their photos, T-shirts, and other mementos, while those of us who heard them play in the Chamber Orchestra have songs in our hearts.

Christoph said that he’ll likely come back to Idyllwild Arts next summer and bring along more German music students.

“The music program is definitely good, but there’s something special about Idyllwild,” he said. “I’ve always had a good feeling about this place.”

Copyright 2010 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.