Inside the Hall: Maryland Hall News Blog

Annapolis Young Artist Program (AYAP) Interview with Natalie Spehar (NS) - interviewed by Emily Kohlenstein (EK)

EK - Let’s start by talking about your background...Where you grew up and how you got started playing music.

NS - I grew up in Northeast Ohio and spent much time in Cleveland studying music and watching The Cleveland Orchestra. I had a pretty eclectic musical upbringing … In addition to other full-time work, my dad is an accordion player and my mom is a singer. Growing up, I spent a lot of time in my uncle’s recording studio as well, listening to rock and metal bands I probably wouldn't have heard of otherwise, especially at a young age. At age four I started classical piano lessons and aural skills class. When I was ten, the high school orchestra came to play for my elementary school class and I immediately fell in love with the cello. I went home that day and told my mom that’s what I wanted to play. She rented me a cello that week, and things pretty much took off from there.

I think because I already had a lot of musical experience when I picked up the cello and could read music, I learned quickly and was able to start recording a couple years into my studies. My uncle would rope me into projects in his studio and also threw me into a contemporary folk band, where I learned how to improvise. I continued to pursue formal classical training as well.

EK - Do you write your own music now, after all of that?

NS - I have composed a few songs and arranged many projects. Usually, though, I find myself improvising in a studio setting or interpreting other composers’ repertoire.

 

EK - Was there ever a time where you thought 'I don't know if music is exactly what I want to pursue as a lasting career?'

NS - Yes --  I have always loved medicine and still like to read medical journals and articles. I know a lot of other musicians have those shared interests... there are actually a few amateur adult orchestras made up of doctors! Many of the kids I grew up with did take a medical career route. I knew I couldn’t live without music being my focus, though, and decided after my sophomore year of high school to pursue it full time.

EK - That brings us to AYAP... how did that come into the mix of being a musician? Did you always know you wanted to work with kids?

NS - I think what draws me so much to live instrumental performance is the intense amount of communication required, and that it most often must happen without using words. With words out of the way, you must physically move more and create with great intent and openness in order to achieve an experience that draws other people in. You also must be open to what your other collaborators are sending your way, and be able to sit back, listen and respond meaningfully with your instrument.  It is always a challenge - and a reward - to connect with other people on that level and it is an excellent exercise in being an effective communicator and leader.

Those experiences shape the way that I listen to and connect with people in general, including kids. In highschool, I formed a volunteer quartet that would play at libraries and present free children’s shows. Since then, I have regularly pursued that kind of teaching and outreach work with young audiences and it over time inspired the idea for AYAP. When I moved to Annapolis and it came time for me to build a private cello studio here, I wanted to create something that was a well-rounded experience -- that introduced my current students not only to great musical repertoire but also to what I think is the overall most important part of being a musician: the joy of connecting with other people.

EK - One of the obvious objectives of AYAP students is performance skill but the other is civic leadership. One does not always see that in a young audience outreach environment. Why did you decide to include that in your curriculum?

NS - I participated in an Arts Leadership Program during my undergrad studies at Eastman School of Music and was exposed to every aspect of what was going to be vital in a professional performance career. I was so thankful for that training because I learned basics of grant writing and took accounting classes on my own, which are both skills I use weekly in running my own program. At ESM, we were also mentored as performance majors by the Ying quartet, who worked with us to develop outreach programs for local elementary schools and assisted living centers. They pushed us to be active collaborators out in the community and that shaped my professional life so much and influenced the way I interact with other people in general. I figured, why not start this training with even younger musicians! It is invaluable information that makes the experience of sharing music that much more rewarding.

As a result of that training, I also discovered that my passion for music could be a force that I use to address other social and community needs -- outside of the music world. For example, my outreach work with music at Maryland Hall has now developed into weekly, free music programming that serves at-risk youth in the area as well as public school students being mentored by our local juvenile justice system. In these situations, music is far more than a fun group activity -- it is teaching collaborative abilities, career skills and leadership concepts that will benefit students in any eventual professional setting. Several of the AYAP students have volunteered to coach these beginning music classes at Maryland Hall and have also taken initiative to create similar, small-group outreach initiatives in the community.

 

EK - Can you explain the new relationship between AYAP and Maryland Hall?

NS - To now have access to such inspiring facilities [at Maryland Hall] and an entirely new audience of people in Annapolis is wonderful and has greatly expanded the opportunities for our AYAP students. Over the years, we have been able to host phenomenal performers from across the country including local musicians from the National Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, and Annapolis Symphony. With Maryland Hall being an important intersection of community arts organizations, our circle continues to expand and we are grateful for that! Maryland Hall is the ideal educational environment for AYAP’s activities and we feel privileged to now be officially operating as a part of Maryland Hall’s outreach program.

EK - Do you choose what events the kids should volunteer for?

NS - What draws a lot of students to the program is our initiative called AYAP Reach, which is a student-led effort to serve the community through volunteer musical work. AYAP faculty serve as mentors for the initiative, but the participating students are the ones tackling the creative as well as administrative responsibilities for most local performances that they present.

I’ve found that when students come in the door and are expected to collaborate at a professional level, something exciting happens -- the kids take pride in their roles and tend to go above and beyond what we expected, creating extra-innovative aspects of their art and new opportunities for their peers. I can facilitate those opportunities and mentor along the way, but do not assign students to specific activities. I simply include those that find the project meaningful and are motivated to help.

EK - Is the program currently open to members of Maryland Hall?

NS - It is open to all young musicians in our community, ages 12-18. AYAP hosts events year-round at Maryland Hall, providing a workshop and masterclass series during the academic year and a Summer String Institute in August, both of which can be registered for at www.marylandhall.org.

AYAP Reach functions year-round in a club format and new members are always welcome! The group meets on the first Saturday of each month for a formal student meeting and then performs and volunteers at local community events throughout the month. For more information about AYAP Reach, please feel free to inquire via email at info@annapolisyap.com.

EK - Can you talk about the Urban Initiative?

NS - A couple of years ago, AYAP started a collaboration with a Capitol Heights, Maryland branch of a national non-profit organization called Urban Initiatives. I was deeply impressed by their effective programming for local citizens in need, which included nutrition information class, summer camp, and a GED class for parents. AYAP teamed up with them to create a music addition to that programming, offering free string mini-camps with local children [in Capital Heights]. During a mini-camp, the kids come for 2 hours every day after school. Some have never played an instrument before so it is very fun and interesting for them. After two weeks, we perform a community concert in which they present individual solos learned as well as a group orchestra piece. It is such an awesome experience for all involved and we look forward to collaborating again soon!

EK - Is there a way people can donate to the program?

NS - Absolutely. We are thrilled to accept instrument donations or funding toward the maintenance of the instruments that we do own  -- we currently have several violins, guitars and a piano and use them daily.  Financial support of our Outreach Program at Maryland Hall in general is of course always appreciated and used to create important opportunities for youth in our community.  Thank you for your continued support!

For further information on funding opportunities and the meaningful influence that has on our outreach programming, please feel free to contact nspehar@mdhallarts.org.

 

 

 

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Music Together Chesapeake teachers

Christine Brimhall graduated from the Hartt School of Music (University of Hartford) with a Bachelors degree in both flute performance and music education. She continued her flute studies at Yale University, receiving her Master of Music in Flute Performance. Christine taught instrumental music in Prince George's County, Maryland for six years. As a music educator, she values the importance of early childhood music education and embraces family music making. Christine has participated in Music Together programs with her two daughters and started teaching Music Together in Fall 2011.  In July 2013 she completed a three-day refresher training, and earned her Music Together Certification I in July of 2014. 

Mandy Stinchcomb has a Bachelor's degree in Theatre from Goucher College in Baltimore. She began singing in choral groups over 17 years ago, and has had a love of music ever since. Mandy  has been participating in Music Together with her children since 2004, and has greatly enjoyed sharing music with her three children through the program. She completed her teacher training in the summer of 2008, and has been teaching family classes since the fall of that year.  Mandy has also taught Music Together In-school in Pasadena, MD. 

Art class Instructors

Holly Rosario was born in rural upstate New York, and spent her childhood exploring its forested terrain. Introverted and aesthetically curious by nature, Holly was interested in art from a young age. In 2007 she moved to Baltimore to attend the Maryland Institute College of Art where she pursued her Bachelors of Fine Arts in conjunction with a Master of Arts in Teaching. While at MICA, she developed an interest in watercolor, inks, paper cuts, and ceramics as well as a passion for art history.  As an artist, Rosario’s papercut works and watercolors are inspired by a love of nature on its most minuscule levels, and explore the role of pattern and repetition in the processes of growth and decay.  Rosario spent three years as an Elementary Art Teacher with Baltimore County Public Schools and is excited to continue her teaching at Maryland Hall.  She sees her pursuits as artist and educator as inseparably intertwined, and hopes to facilitate transformative learning by sharing her passion for the visual world.  She will be teaching visual arts classes for children.  

 

 

Video Above: Participants of AYAP's Summer String Institue 2016 perform an excerpt of
 Martinu's Serenade No. 2 for fellow students in a masterclass setting.

 

Young artists

As frequent visitors to Annapolis, we have been privileged to attend several of the area's numerous cultural events.

On a recent night at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, the concert of the Annapolis Young Artists Program was one of the finest and most inspirational.

It was truly amazing to hear and to watch the professionalism of these young performers as they presented their summer string concert of various chamber and orchestral pieces under the excellent direction of Zack Stachowski, the conductor.

The newest addition to the program, the delightful junior artists ages 8 to 12, also performed some Beethoven and Handel.

If you get the opportunity to hear these students sometime, please do and bring your children and grandchildren who just might be inspired as well. What a great opportunity to learn leadership skills, team building and communication while expressing talent through the beauty of music.

The program was started in the basement of a church in Cape St. Claire. Founder Natalie Spehar deserves kudos for her vision for young musicians.

Bravo to all who made this event happen -- the staff, the students and Maryland Hall, for opening its doors for this event.

JIM and PAT YOST

Northampton, Pennsylvania

Original Story published in Capital Gazette Letters 

Check out our Vimeo page for more Maryland Hall videos!

Every day we see examples how Maryland Hall and our creative programs impact lives.  We are delighted to share the stories of two women whose careers and lives were recently changed through Maryland Hall. 

New Experiences Lead to A New Career

This spring, Nancy Politsch (pictured:  Nancy, left with Amy Crain) dramatically changed her life. And Maryland Hall played a large role in that change.

Nancy first got involved with Maryland Hall in 2012 through our annual art auction, All That Art.  As Senior Vice president of Wells Fargo, Nancy facilitated the bank’s role as a corporate sponsor of the event.  In 2013, at the suggestion of MHCA Board member Amy Crain, Nancy joined the All That Art Advisory Committee, which helps plan and execute this annual fundraising event.   And in 2014 Nancy became chair of the Action Committee, a role she repeated in 2015 and 2016.  “Her leadership, commitment and attention to detail helped the auction raise nearly $90,000 each year for Maryland Hall,” says Donna Anderson, MHCA’s VP of Marketing and Development.  "She brought great new ideas and helped recruit new artists, sponsors and attendees."  Nancy joined the Maryland Hall Board in 2014 and became Maryland Hall's Treasurer. 

During this time, Nancy also began taking fused glass classes at Maryland Hall.  “I took one class and I was hooked," she says.  A lifelong photographer who had published two books of photographs, Nancy fell in love with fused glass as an art form.  She became so interested in the craft, she bought a personal kiln and glass fusing equipment so she could create fused glass pieces at home.  “Every night after work, my kitchen became a de facto glass studio," she says. 

In late 2015, Nancy heard from a friend that a position was open at the Lighthouse Art Center in Jupiter, Florida.  She applied for the position and was hired this spring as the Center’s Executive Director; overseeing this non-profit organization’s museum gallery and school of art.  On May 1, Nancy and her husband moved from Maryland to Florida and Nancy started her new career. 

“I feel like the artistic experiences and leadership opportunities I had through Maryland Hall came together at the exact right time for me to make this huge life change,” says Nancy. "While my finance and 38 - year banking background was helpful, it is my experiences through Maryland Hall as a Board and Committee member and as an art student that really helped me understand how a nonprofit arts center operates.  Without the expertise I gained through Maryland Hall, I would not have felt confident to make this drastic life and career change."

An Email...A Class...And A New Career As An Artist

Janey Harrington had always been interested in art and had been painting as a hobby for many years.  She had participated in many activities at Maryland Hall in the past--performances, exhibits and classes for her kids.  But with a career and children to raise she was just too busy to invest in an arts class for herself.  Then one day she received a Maryland Hall email about a silk painting workshop we were offering.  "I was so excited because it was what I had always wanted to learn," she says. 

She enrolled in the class advertised in the email and several others afterward.  "The classes I have taken at Maryland Hall have contributed greatly not only to my technical development as an artist, they have has also helped with my personal and professional confidence in sharing my art," she says.  "From watercolor classes with the late Lee Boynton to the silk painting classes with Nadia Azumi, the instructors helped me lose my hesitation of expressing myself through my painting and have supported my reaching my dream of sharing my passion with the world."  

Two years ago Janey made the decision to pursue art as a full-time career.  She has created more than 500 works including silk scarves for women battling cancer.  "The most useful thing I learned through classes at Maryland Hall is to believe in yourself and your art. Whether you are a painter, sculptor, dancer, actor, writer....whatever your passion, take the leap to reach for your dreams.  One cannot fly unless you take that first leap!"

If you'd like to explore a Maryland Hall class for adults, browse through some of our fall offerings:

Learn to Draw

Glass Fusing

Painting

 

Corporate sponsors provide vital operating support for Maryland Hall's creative arts activities. In return for their financial contribution, local businesses receive a variety of benefits that provide extensive visibility and the opportunity to "give back" to our community. "Maryland Hall must raise approximately half of our revenue from private sources -- individuals, corporations and foundations to ensure our creative programming thrives and grows," says Donna Anderson, MHCA's VP, Marketing and Development. "We are very grateful to corporate sponsors, like Severn Savings Bank, for their valuable support helping us deliver art for all to our community." Businesses interested in learning about sponsorship should contact MHCA's Development Office at 410-263-5544, ext. 25.

Kevin Carter, Severn Savings Bank

Why did Severn Savings Bank decide to be a Maryland Hall sponsor?
As the bank's CRA (Community Reinvestment Act) Officer, one the many things I’m responsible for is looking at where we are donating to the community we serve, what organizations we’re selecting and what those organizations do. We’ve made the conscious decision that one of the avenues we are going to support is the arts. Maryland Hall is the melting pot of the arts. It’s not just the performing arts, or dance or theatre, it’s also sculpture, painting. (Maryland Hall) provides summer programs for kids and programs throughout the school year, especially programs for underserved children. That’s a key part and that brings the CRA tie back in. One of the main things I look at is who is supporting the underserved and ensure that some of our dollars get directed towards those types of programs. At Maryland Hall, you can support all of the arts versus just one....It is a hub for the arts in the Annapolis community. It has sustainability.

Why is supporting the arts important?
Study after study show how the arts impact grades and education. Local school systems can fade in and out of the arts, but Maryland Hall is that constant where even if you feel as though your child isn’t getting (the arts) in their local school, there’s an avenue that you can go to. There is that tie into education and the importance of education in arts....It’s also clear that there’s an importance to the arts as it is related to the community that we live and work in. There’s also a tie to the arts and business and tourism....When there is a show at Maryland Hall, it affects the local restaurants that are within walking distance...there is an economic effect that the arts has and Maryland Hall has on this community.

Severn Savings Bank is very philanthropic in our community, why is that important to your business?
There are two parts. There is the part that by law and regulation--we are required to and that’s the CRA Act. But the bank has always been philanthropic. Our leader, Alan Hyatt, has always given back to the community either personally or through the bank....We feel it’s important to give back to the community that you serve--it's that simple...We support 40-50 nonprofits and I’m still running across some I never knew existed....All of the nonprofits seem to work together and support each other. You can go to a nonprofit event and see three other Executive Directors from other nonprofits attending and supporting that event....Being a small community bank, we all live and work and play in the Annapolis area. It is important to support the area and local organizations.

In a few words, how would you describe Maryland Hall?
Stability, innovative, fun, entertainment.

Donna Anderson, Maryland Hall's VP, Marketing and Development was recently interviewed on Comcast Newsmakers about Maryland Hall's Summer events and performances.

Click here to see the interview.  

 

Enter the Arts Alive raffle to win one of these extravagant trips.

Raffle tickets are $100 each - only 200 tickets will be sold!

Drawing: September 9 at Arts Alive 18 at Maryland Hall 

Winner need not be present. Raffle winner picks the trip of their choice.

Some restrictions apply including blackout dates.

Click here to download an order form to enter the Arts Alive Raffle.

Click here for information about Arts Alive.

Trip Option #1:  5 Nights in London with Airfare for 2

Enjoy 5 nights at one of the finest 5-star hotels in London, Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill. Situated in the heart of London’s West End, this luxurious hotel is within walking distance to many of London’s leading attractions from Buckingham Palace to Hyde Park, along with the exclusive shopping areas of Oxford Street, Soho, Bond Street, Mayfair and Marylebone.

Trip Option #2:  6 Nights in Switzerland with Airfare for 2

Venture to the Heidi-like region of eastern Switzerland and enjoy a 6 Night Stay at Swissôtel Zurich. Also included is a guided coach tour to Appenzell and to the cheese factory in Stein, a visit the outlet of the famous chocolate-maker Lindt, and an aerial cable car ride to Mt. Hoher Kasten for views over the Rhine Valley.

Trip Option #3:  4 Nights in Bermuda with Airfare for 2

Perched on Bermuda’s stunning south shore with miles of pink sand beaches, the luxurious Fairmont Southampton, Bermuda beach resort sits on nearly 100 acres, dotted with lush bougainvillea and towering coconut palms. Conveniently located in the mid-Atlantic, less than a two-hour flight from most east coast gateways; this Bermuda hotel is perfect for Atlantic vacations and getaways year-round.

Trip Option #4:  3 nights in San Francisco and 3 in Sonoma with Airfare for 2

Get a taste for the best of Northern California during your stays in lively San Francisco and the serene Sonoma Valley. The Fairmont San Francisco puts you in the middle of metropolitan excitement and is world-renowned for offering an awe-inspiring view of the city and the bay from high atop Nob Hill, while The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa provides you with the ultimate elegant oasis in the heart of California’s cherished wine country.

Trip Option #5:  2 Nights in Pebble Beach with Round of Golf and 2 Nights in Big Sur with Airfare for 2

Enjoy a California golf getaway! Includes two night stay at The Inn at Spanish Bay at Pebble Beach, a round of golf including cart at Pebble Beach Links for 2; a two night stay at the Hyatt Carmel-Highland Inn; $250 Budget Rental Car Certificate and round trip airline service for 2 to either San Francisco or San Jose, CA. 

Trip Option #6:  4 Nights in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec with Airfare for 2

Experience the ultimate of comfort and treat yourself to the perfect location when staying in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec. Nestled in the heart of a scenic village at the foot of the mountain, Fairmont Tremblant is the only ‘’ski-in/ski-out’’ resort of the region, offering easy access to ski tracks or hiking trails. 

 

We currently have 8 talented Artists-in-Residence (AIR's) at Maryland Hall that work in a diverse variety of media and styles. AIR's work in their studios throughout the week and can be visited by patrons interested in learning about their art or purchasing their work. We checked in to see what they've been working on and what exciting exhibits/residencies/shows they are currently a part of. 

 

 

c.l.bigelow (left to right), Skeleton of Nests and Nest Outside

c.l.bigelow (studio 312A) -  c.l.bigelow is getting ready to showcase her nests like this one at "Artina 2016: Art in Nature", a juried collection of work by members of the Washington Sculptor Group at the Sandy Spring Museum.

The show runs June 30 – September 30, 2016
Opening Reception: June 30, 6:30 – 9 pm

 

  

Lindsay Pichaske, Evocative Animals

Lindsay Pichaske (studio 314B) - Lindsay Pichaske, is teaching a one-week workshop at Santa Fay Clay in Santa Fe, NM July 4th-8th!

Her workshop called "Evocative Animals" will allow participants to gain insight into her own work and they'll in turn learn how to sculpt animals from clay. Check it out here.

She is also a part of the Foggy Bottom Sculpture Biennial that runs through October 22, 2016.

 

 

 

Kate Osmond's Studio at Maryland Hall

Kate Osmond (studio 305) - Kate Osmond will soon be starting a six week summer intensive at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore for her MFA in studio art. Check out the program here.

 

   

Work by Elizabeth Kendall at the Montpellier Art Center

Elizabeth Kendall (studio 310B) - Elizabeth Kendall just returned from a month-long residency in Edinburgh and is now installing work at Montpelier Art Center for their 35th Annual Invitational Sculpture Show which opens this Friday, June 10th, 2016.

 

For more information about our Artist-in-Residence Program go here.

 

 

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