Music students Brittany Musumeci and Andrew Cameron, with their respective trio and quartet, had the unique opportunity to participate in a master class led by world-class cellist Yo-Yo Ma and his Silk Road Ensemble at Sentry Theatre on Wednesday, Oct. 17th.
As part of Sentry Insurance’s Invitation to the Arts, Musumeci and Cameron joined other students from the area to work exclusively and play music with Ma and his ensemble.
“Last spring, my colleagues and I committed to playing the Brahms Trio for a recital in the fall. In mid- September, horn professor Dr. Miles approached us to see if we were interested in being submitted for the possibility of playing for Yo-Yo Ma,” Musumeci said. “Our trio began to meet two or three times a week to prepare, and two weeks before the event we found out we were selected to play in the Master Class.”
Cameron was selected in a similar way, with percussion professor Sean Connors nominating the quartet to play at the event. Both the trio and quartet that Musumeci and Cameron are involved in went through weeks of preparation for the event.
“The prep for this was actually pretty tough. We were originally not going to be performing this piece until our percussion ensemble concert in November,” Cameron said. “When we were selected, we essentially had our amount of prep time cut in half, leaving us only about six weeks to get it ready.”
Musumeci’s trio performed for Ma. The quartet of Cameron’s actually did not receive direct coaching from Ma but worked with all the members of the Silk Road Ensemble. Each watched as the other groups performed their pieces and then had the opportunity to play their own and receive feedback on the performance.
“He encouraged us to play music in a way that is continually growing and leading to a climax, essentially,” Musumeci said.
“They advised on how to make an exciting performance by encouraging us to interact with each other more while playing,” Cameron said.
Musumeci explained that Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble reminded her why she loves to play music and how Ma is just another person who wants to share his love of music with the world.
“It’s not about being the best, or to play the most difficult music, but to communicate with people, to connect with them in a deep way that can’t be expressed with words,” Musumeci said.
Both musicians explained what they took away from the experience and are grateful that they had the opportunity to perform with world-class performers. Each has taken something away from their experience and will apply what they learned to their current skill set.
“It is important for a performer to appear relaxed and to smile while performing, especially if you’re enjoying what you’re doing,” Cameron said. “This experience should serve as an inspiration for young aspiring musicians everywhere. I was given a taste of what I hope to be doing ten years from now.”
Musumeci’s experience, as she explained, was deeply meaningful. She grew up playing music in public schools, never had private lessons, did not play in youth orchestra and did not own her own violin until her senior year of high school. Her family is not musical, but she is grateful she got the push from teachers to pursue her passion for music.
“If anything, I hope this experience encourages communities to continue to support the arts in public schools. I would never have had the chance to play for Yo-Yo Ma if my incredible public school educators hadn’t poured their love of music into my life,” Musumeci said. “I just want to point out the fact that I’m an ordinary person who pursued my dreams through hard work.”