2 September 2010

Teaching disadvantaged Indigenous teenagers to play and hopefully master the flute is a cherished goal of internationally acclaimed flautist Alexa Still.

The New Zealand-born Still has been thinking about such a program off and on for years, but two recent experiences have now galvanized the objective.

In early August while in New York for concert performances she gladly participated with other woodwind specialists in a week-long series of tuition sessions for a group of young African Americans from poor households.

And two weeks ago she initiated her application for Australian citizenship.

"Teaching young people to enjoy music and play an instrument is just the best thing, and I never tire of the experience," comments Still, an Associate Professor in the Woodwind Unit at The Con.

"There is a particular magic about the experience when you are working with young people who don't - or can't - normally get the chance for hands-on tutoring, and that is something I have yearned to do more of for a long time.

"The New York classes at the Lincoln Center were all about enriching the kids through giving them access to an exciting environment, encouraging them to participate and helping them understand how to get the best possible result.

"It is a program that I would like to see introduced here at The Con, where Indigenous students from disadvantaged backgrounds could mix in with our talented students and get a taste of what we do and their own potential."

Still, who will join with pianist Clemens Leske for a Cocktail Hour Recital at The Con on 6 September, said the classes could start out with woodwind instruments but then expand to include everything.

"One of the strong points of The Con is its broad program of musical scholarship, spanning instruments, voice, composition and arranging in all sorts of genres- a program that invites the development of natural talent.

"Bringing kids from less advantaged communities together with undergraduates, perhaps by scholarships or special assistance, would be great for them and I believe our students would prosper from the experience as well.

"It's not a new concept by any means, but I know it would add a dimension to our commitment to furthering musical excellence and learning."

Dean and Principal, Professor Kim Walker, said she supported Still's proposal and the sentiments driving it.

"Alexa is one of the world's great musicians and a highly valued lecturer; her views on building a program for minority musicians of this sort resonate with the aspirations of many of her peers and deserve to be enthusiastically explored."

Monday's recital will feature the world premiere of New Zealand composer's Anthony Ritchie's Flute Sonata and the Sydney premiere of American Joseph Schwanter's Looking Back - a work especially written for Alexa Still.

Still and Leske will be commercially recording these two works, along with Nura by Ross Edwards, in October for The Con's new record label.

Contact: Mick Le Moignan

Phone: 02 9351 1385

Email: 1758530918203c5e2e2e2b20290003291c562d1008763611367b173f