October 22, 2013

CIM Students Learn the Art of Engagement

CIM Students Learn the Art of Engagement

The Art of Engagement seminar returns to CIM’s Mixon Hall on Monday, October 28 at 4pm. The seminar is based on an innovative program that gives Conservatory students a chance to weave public speaking and audience engagement skills into the fabric of their musical development. It provides the public with a “behind-the-scenes” glimpse as the Cavani String Quartet coach CIM students on the ability to communicate with audiences of all ages and get them excited about live classical music.

The Art of Engagement features fun commentary by Peter Salaff, members of the Cavani and special guests such as Chris Haff–Paluck, director of community outreach at CIM. The speakers stress the importance of learning how to create a fun and interesting children’s program that will captivate young audiences.

“Most people aren’t aware of the extensive preparation necessary to create and present this kind of program successfully,” said Haff-Paluck, who arranges dozens of outreach performances for CIM students in area grade-schools, retirement homes and libraries annually. “The Art of Engagement is a unique opportunity to observe the results of some of the educational training CIM students receive as they create and develop fun musical presentations before they take them into classrooms, senior residences and other areas of the community.”

The Art of Engagement seminar was conceived of and is now coordinated by Cavani member and first violinist Annie Fullard. It launched at CIM in 2007.

“I wanted to integrate the experience of creating outreach programs as part of the training of our wonderful CIM students,” Fullard explained. “The tremendous, positive reaction from them has been the driving force. They’re learning the importance of providing opportunities for more LIVE performance, more ‘engagement’ with our audiences and more fun…all while sharing some of the greatest masterpieces of Western Art...it’s a win for everyone!”

The Cavani utilize props, costumes and pop culture music, such as the theme song from Jaws, to make the instrumentation accessible to children who likely haven’t had much exposure to classical music. As the children begin to recognize the sounds the instruments make, and become comfortable, ensemble members weave in Beethoven, Mozart and even Bartók. The resulting response from the children is nothing short of extraordinary.

This seminar, and its resulting children’s programs, provides an excellent chance for folks to witness a somewhat ‘lighter’ side of CIM students and faculty. “It’s worth it just to see the Cavani burst upon the stage in baseball caps with fiddles in hand, and hear their heartfelt and eloquent words,” said Haff-Paluck.

Previous participants in the Art of Engagement seminar include Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition Winners the Omer and Linden string quartets — and although the program is led by juggernauts of the string chamber music world, participants have also included brass ensembles such as Kyodai Brass and woodwind ensembles like Basoon4.