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Schwob Summer Music Festival Debuts Its Prestigious & Immersive Musical Environment for Students

Updated: Jul 5, 2018

The Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University has a new summer music festival, and it's already made an international impact.

The Schwob Summer Music Festival will complete its inaugural session this weekend. Sixty students were selected to participate this first year, and traveled from as far as the Dominican Republic to be a part of the festival.

Two of the school's Assistant Professors, Dr. Natalie Higgins and Dr. Stephanie Patterson, co-founded the festival to offer high school students a wide array of musical experiences not often available to most individuals until college.

"We were inspired by a mutual desire to provide opportunities, largely chamber music and innovative courses, for students ages 14-18," said Higgins. The festival has taken place all week and runs through June 30.

The 2018 Schwob Summer Music Festival Band rehearsing in Legacy Hall for the first time with Dr. Jamie Nix on the podium. | Photo courtesy of Leanne Hanson.

Masterclasses for each instrument were included every day and have been taught by instructors from Schwob's esteemed faculty. In addition, every student enrolled in the festival was given a one hour private lesson by the team of instructors.

This year's instructors included: Dr. Andree Martin (flute and body mapping), Dr. Susan Tomkiewicz (oboe), Dr. Lisa Oberlander (clarinet), Dr. Stephanie Patterson (bassoon), Dr. Joseph Girard (saxophone), Dr. Robert Murray (trumpet), Dr. Natalie Brooke Higgins (horn), Dr. Bradley Palmer (trombone), Mr. Bernard Flythe (tuba/euphonium), Dr. Paul Vaillancourt (percussion), Dr. Jacqueline Pickett (bass), Dr. Jamie Nix (ensemble director), and Dr. Keith Matthews (ensemble director).

Scholarships were given to students based on a variety of application standards. Merit-based scholarships were awarded to students earlier in the spring, but the festival also offered automatic scholarships to All-State Students and incoming Schwob School of Music freshmen.

"We were inspired by a mutual desire to provide opportunities, largely chamber music and innovative courses, for students ages 14-18," said Higgins.

Seminars were also offered as a part of the festival. Topics included audition techniques, creativity, and musical wellness. The idea of musical wellness for artists is a fairly new concept that is only now being addressed worldwide.

Dr. Andree Martin is the instructor teaching the festival's Body Mapping seminar. According to Martin, The International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians conducted a survey to determine the percentage of orchestral musicians who have suffered from performance injuries. 82% of the 2200 musicians who responded reported a playing-related problem, 76% experienced an injury that required time off from performing. These statistics have inspired increased communication between the medical and musical communities since that survey was conducted, leading to courses in injury prevention and musicians' wellness- like Body Mapping.

"Thanks to the tireless work of organizations such as the Performing Arts Medical Association (PAMA), health and wellness issues for artists and musicians have inspired many universities throughout the U.S. to provide resources for students through wellness centers and courses," said Martin. "Teaching students at the Schwob Summer Music Festival how to become more aware of their alignment and over-use of particular muscles during long practice sessions will help them avoid injuries in the future."

Paul Pollard (Metropolitan Opera and faculty at Indiana University) welcomes Schwob Summer Music Festival students by serenading them on contrabass trombone with trombone choir accompaniment. | Photo courtesy of Leanne Hanson.

Schwob Summer Music Festival also offered exploratory classes to their students this week. Subjects varied from body mapping to entrepreneurship, theory and history.

Higgins said that entrepreneurship was a course she and Patterson felt strongly about offering. "To make it as a modern 21st century musician it is not enough to just play your instrument well," Higgins explained. "Students now need to be equipped with a wide range of entrepreneurial skills in order to gain employment in the music industry."

She instructed the class with the assistance of Lucas Testin, a current schwob school of music artist diploma horn student.  

Through the Entrepreneurship course, the Schwob Summer Music Festival provides students with hands on experiences in creativity, branding, recording, photography, logo design, and website building.  As an entrepreneur herself, Higgins said she has "discovered the value in learning and familiarizing herself with a diverse skill set in business, marketing, audio engineering, and video design."

Legacy Hall at the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts. | Photo courtesy of Columbus State University.

Schwob Summer Music Festival will conclude June 30 with their final participant concert at 1 p.m. in Legacy Hall at RiverCenter for the Performing Arts. It will feature all of the participant chamber ensembles and the festival's large ensemble. The concert is free and open to the public.

The first year's success has ensured that the festival will be an annual event. "We are looking forward to our 2019 Festival," said Higgins. "Save the date! June 23-29, 2019." ◼︎

Connect with Schwob Summer Music Festival:

For more information on Schwob Summer Music Festival, visit their website here.

To see more, find the festival via social media on Instagram and Facebook.


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