Heidi Curatolo’s music students perform | AspenTimes.com

Heidi Curatolo’s music students perform

Stewart Oksenhorn
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Local music teacher Heidi Curatolo performs with her students at a recital on Sunday at the Aspen Chapel. (Jordan Curet/The Aspen Times)

ASPEN ” For audience members, the main attraction at Heidi Curatolo’s Suzuki Violin and Piano Spring Recital are the kids ” the 20 students, age 5 to 13, who will be demonstrating what they have learned from Curatolo, a local music teacher.

Those students, however, might want to keep their eyes on the adult portion of the concert. In addition to the young musicians playing solo pieces and in various ensembles, the concert features the Trio con Brio ” Carbondale residents Steve Hessl, a violin student of Curatolo’s and a retired doctor, and Bernard Phillips, a cellist and retired commercial airline pilot, and Curatolo, a 30-year-old Aspenite, on piano ” performing the Mendelssohn Piano Trio in C minor. Curatolo, a former Aspen Music Festival student and former math teacher in local schools who has been teaching music here since 2003, thinks her pupils will get a glimpse of just what they are studying for by watching a group of committed amateur players.

“We’re showing the kids that, even if you don’t become a professional musician, music can still be a part of your life, forever,” she said. “These guys are retired and they have become friends through music. They’re amateurs, but they take it seriously. They practice. Obviously, it’s great joy for them to keep pursuing this.”

In introducing the piece, Curatolo might mention that the Trio con Brio gets together once a week to rehearse, and follows those sessions with some activity, and that recently, they have been billing themselves as being available as performing/eating guests at dinner parties. She might add that the Mendelssohn piece was chosen by Phillips, who has made it a goal to perfect the performance of it.

Curatolo has at least one other reason for performing with the trio at the concert, which is set for Sunday, May 18, at 2 p.m. at the Aspen Chapel. Many of her students are accustomed to practicing on their own. Curatolo would like to expose them to the idea of collaborating, forming duos and trios to play chamber music.

Naturally, Curatolo’s students aren’t looking so far down the road to when they are retired adults, filling their golden years with music. They are being kids, and Curatolo finds that kids often come with a strong element of shyness. The best antidote she has found to combat that is music, and a recital.

“I have a lot of shy kids,” she said. “Being able to get up there and express themselves through their music is a great way to get over that. They wouldn’t be able to get up there and speak to the audience. But somehow, having an instrument, that allows them to express themselves.”

That obstacle is easily hurdled. At the beginning of this school year, several of the students mentioned that they wanted to take lessons, but would not be participating in Curatolo’s recital, which is entering its fourth year.

“But when I started putting this together,” said Curatolo, “they were begging to play. Kids who weren’t going to be a part of it were signing up to play. And I’m not pushing them.”

One of the students Curatolo identifies as shy is Sylvia Tran, a 12-year-old violinist from Aspen. She has also become one of the most accomplished; Sylvia appeared last week as a soloist with the Symphony in the Valley, having been a winner of the orchestra’s Young Artist Concerto Competition. She will play Severn’s “The Polish Dance.”

Also spotlighted at Sunday’s concert will be the Pryor children, offspring of Aspen Police Chief Richard Pryor. Ten-year-old Harriet, a violinist, will play Vivaldi’s Concerto in A minor, while her 7-year-old brother William is billed as a guest trumpeter, performing Purcell’s “Trumpet Voluntaire” with a chamber ensemble.

Jaynie Muir, 12, will be featured as a soloist, along with Curatolo, on Bach’s Double Concerto for Two Violins. Melda Pearson, a 13-year-old pianist, will accompany vocalist Paul Dankers, director of the Snowmass Chapel Choir, in a performance of the “Ave Maria” from Bach’s Prelude in C; Pearson will also take a turn on violin, playing the Allegro by Fiocco.

It adds up to over two hours’ worth of music. And the range is huge, in age, material, and types of performance, from the violin ensemble that will open the concert to solos, duets, trios and more. Curatolo calls it a variety show the likes of which she hasn’t seen in Aspen.

But everybody wants in, and Curatolo is happy to make room for them.

“That’s why it’s so long,” she said. “They take it so seriously. They get caught up in the excitement. And that’s why I get exhausted by the end of this.”

There is no admission for the concert, but Curatolo will accept donations for her studio.