Student musicians showcase their skills in Aspen recital |

Student musicians showcase their skills in Aspen recital

Stewart Oksenhorn
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” The student musicians in Aspenite Heidi Curatolo’s studio may not have their eye on careers as soloists or orchestra members. But they have good reasons for taking their music lessons seriously.

One reason to put in the rehearsal hours that is common to the students is to prepare for Curatolo’s annual Violin and Piano Spring Recital. The sixth annual concert is set for 4 p.m. Saturday at the Aspen Chapel. The concert will feature 20 students, ranging in age from 5-14, who will play in large groups accompanied by an adult string ensemble, and in duets accompanied by a pianist.

Apart from concert preparation, the students have a wide variety of motivations to focus on their instruments.

For Harriet Pryor, an 11-year-old Missouri Heights resident and Aspen Middle Schooler, music is an intellectual engagement.

“I like anything that uses my brain,” said Pryor, who is set to perform movements from Reiding’s Violin Concerto.

Pryor’s apparent precociousness is confirmed by Curatolo, who recalls Harriet, as a 7-year-old, frequently mentioning her “passion for the violin.”

Pryor came to classical music by accident. Several years ago she went to a friend’s house while the friend had a music lesson.

“I wanted to do that. It looked really fun,” she said. Despite that initial impression, and her early passion, playing wasn’t necessarily easy. “I had tantrums. Because I didn’t want to practice. But now I like to practice. I love it.”

Pryor attends concerts at the Aspen Music Festival, and comes away inspired by what she sees and hears. “It’s amazing that they can play what they play,” she said.

For Melba Pearson, a home-schooled 14-year-old who splits her time between Aspen and Florida, her lessons, on violin and piano, have been the center of her social scene. Her best friends are those she has met through the Aspen Music Festival, and through the Suzuki-method summer camps she has attended in Snowmass Village and Beaver Creek.

Music has also had a more internal effect. “It has a calming quality,” said Pearson, who has studied with Curatolo for seven years, and will perform Mozart’s Rondo on piano, and a movement from Handel’s Violin Sonata No. 3 at Saturday’s concert. “If I’m in a bad mood, it helps me. And I like how I can express myself.”

Melba’s 11-year-old brother, Covington, is more ambivalent about the four years of piano lessons he has had with Curatolo. He prefers to spend his time outdoors. He puts in the rehearsal hours ” often reluctantly ” in hopes that he can someday move into another musical realm, with the acoustic guitar.

“I’m using it as a start to play another instrument when I get a little older,” said the younger Pearson, who will perform “Christmas Day Secrets” on Saturday. “Hopefully soon.”

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