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Musical Explorers: An interactive Bach Fest program for children of all ages

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The audience for ‘Musical Explorers’ included kids of all ages, including adults that came to learn about the songs that will be performed in the upcoming Pops in the Park concert. (Photo by Lauren Getzin)

Musical Explorers was an interactive program for children as a part of Lake Chelan Bach Fest. The ‘musical journey’ took place on July 13, 2017, at St. Andrews Episcopal Church. The Bach Fest string quartet took the audience on an exploration through the musical workings of the songs that will be performed during the upcoming Pops in the Park concert on Saturday, July 15 at 7:30 p.m. at Chelan Riverwalk Park Pavilion.

The host of the event was Maia Zander, one of the violinists of the string quartet. The other members of the string quartet were Steven Zander on the violin, Daniel Dona on the Viola, and Roberta Bottelli on the cello.

“The thing I love about classical music is there is so much variety,” said Roberta Bottelli, the cello player of the quartet. “There’s something for everyone, and the more you listen to it, the more you’ll realize what you like about it, and you can find music out there that you connect with,” 

Maia Zander telling the kids in the audience to raise their hand when they hear the birds in the ‘Summer’ section of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. (Photo by Lauren Getzin)

Zander showed the audience each different instrument in the string quartet. She also discussed musical tone, mood, speed, and melody/harmony. She had the children in the audience tell her whether the music she played sounded happy or sad based on the notes and the way the quartet played them.

The quartet played the Russian National Anthem and taught the audience about the history of the anthem and how music plays a part in war propaganda. They demonstrated how the sound of the anthem reflects the mood and feeling it is meant to provoke.

The quartet also played ‘Summer’ from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Zander explained the history of the concerto and described each part of the sonnet that goes along with the music. Each line of the sonnet is described through the music to tell a story. The quartet showed the audience how the parts of the sonnet sounded with their instruments. They demonstrated the different sounds of the birds, the sound of the wind, and the sound of ‘The blazing sun’s relentless heat.’

The string quartet playing a variety of music during the ‘Musical Explorers’ Lake Chelan Bach Fest event. (Photo by Lauren Getzin)

This is Roberta Bottelli’s first year playing in the string quartet at Lake Chelan Bach Fest. Bottelli started playing the cello at nine years old, and started playing the piano at three years old.

“I started very, very young as a musician, and then I was just drawn to the cello because it’s just such a beautiful instrument,” Bottelli said.

Bottelli is also a music teacher at Whitworth University. She teaches all ages and all levels of music from very beginning cello students to very advanced cello students.

Roberta Bottelli. (Courtesy of Lake Chelan Bach Fest)

“I actually have some adult beginners who decided to pick up the instrument later in life, and that’s always so inspiring to see an adult that’s willing to put in the time and the energy to learn something that’s really difficult. But they get a lot out of it, so it’s never too late to become a music student,” said Bottelli.

There were lots of young children at the Musical Explorers event who came to learn about classical music and string instruments. Bottelli recognized that some of the children might decide to learn an instrument during their lifetime, and could start learning as a child, like Bottelli and many other musicians do. As a musician and a music teacher, Bottelli knows how hard it can be to stick to learning how to play an instrument.

“Practice as much as you can. Pick an instrument that you really love, and just stick with it no matter what,” Bottelli advised. “Sometimes it’s really hard to make yourself practice, but if you stick with it you never know how music will come back into your life.”

Bottelli continued, “For example, my husband was a wonderful cellist as a child, and then he took a long break from it. Then he came back and started playing again later in his life. So you just never know. Music can be part of your life forever, so just start and jump right in.”

Bottelli gave one last piece of advice for beginner musicians. “Just remember that all the wonderful musicians that you’ve ever heard started from the same place of not knowing what they’re doing. We all make mistakes along the way. Try not to get too discouraged or be too hard on yourself as you’re setting your high standards. It’s really important to try and be encouraging for yourself and just keep going,” she said.

The Lake Chelan Bach Fest events are designed and geared toward children to help them learn more about classical music and instruments so that they can be involved and enjoy the festivities of the week.

To find out about other Lake Chelan Bach Fest events for this week, go to bachfest.org.

(By Lauren Getzin)

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