I’ve been meaning to post this footage for over a year. It was taken on April 17th, 2013, during the visit of the South Americans to a northern Canadian town, and it captures not even a moment, but a fragment of a moment from the two weeks (read about them here) I was privileged to share with this trio between Prince George and Vancouver. (Mobile users or blog email subscribers will need to click this link in order to access the video.)
Sam, Elizabeth and Ana had just presented a short performance at Youth Around Prince, a shelter and resources center for adolescents in the heart of the remote logging town, and were inviting members of the audience to come try their instruments. Most of the audience had dispersed by this time, but during the concert the venue was packed, with every chair filled and the audience overflowing into the back and the aisles. This was almost certainly in violation of the fire code – but how could anyone have been asked to leave?
The audience members defied every stereotype of the “troubled youth.” They were respectful, attentive and extremely engaged, in most likelihood because the people they were watching and hearing were clearly, unmistakably from their peer group, just displaced by roughly seven thousand kilometers or more (ten thousand for Ana). After the performance many courageously took the opportunity to try their hands at the instruments offered by the visitors, and this footage captures just two of those interactions.
At the risk of prejudicing other viewers, the highlight for me is the minute that Ana shares with another young woman for the briefest of lessons on Suzuki’s Twinkle Twinkle. The rapport they establish with each other in such a short time is so visible on their faces, and when Ana comments on the experience afterwards, you get the sense that the regret she expresses is as much personal as it is professional. The pedagogue in her is clearly delighted by the almost instant progress, but both women are clearly connecting on a personal level too, as the copious laughter demonstrates.
In posting this, I want to salute not just my South American colleagues, but José Delgado-Guevara, the Concertmaster of the Prince George Symphony; Diane Nakamura, one of the leading figures in the social services in Prince George; and particularly Ruth Langner, former General Manager of the PGSO. In many ways, Ruth made the entire Prince George venture happen, from the extensive social outreach to the final symphony concert that is still talked about as being one of the best that the orchestra there has ever presented. There is a boldness, a fearlessness to this sextet of extraordinary people that has produced some extraordinary things within and beyond music.