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Artists shine through PRISMA

Harps return to summer academy
Chris Bolster

Organizers of an elite summer music school are combing through student applications trying to choose the best of the best for this year’s Pacific Region International Summer Music Academy (PRISMA).

The academy brings student musicians from around the world to Powell River for an intensive two-week summer music camp. One of the driving forces behind PRISMA is music director and conductor Arthur Arnold who is also chief conductor for the Moscow Symphony Orchestra.

Paul Schachter, secretary-treasurer of the board of directors, said that they are currently working through student applications to choose which student musicians will have the opportunity to develop themselves as an orchestral player. Then students will be chosen by faculty and Arnold based on their auditions.

“Our applications are up 20 per cent over last year,” Schachter said. Most of the applicants are from Canada and the United States, but the board has received applications from countries as far away as Australia, Dominican Republic, Hong Kong, Israel and Taiwan. In total students from 20 countries have applied.

The academy will select between 85 to 87 students to join the program that runs from June 16 to 28.

This year the harps are returning to PRISMA. Elizabeth Volpé Bligh, principal harpist with Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and Valerie Muzzolini Gordon, principal harpist with Seattle Symphony Orchestra, are both going to be joining as guest artist faculty.

“It gives us a wider range of orchestral pieces that are going to be played,” Schachter said.

Richard Roberts, violinist from Montreal Symphony Orchestra, and Andrew Brown, violist from Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, will be joining the faculty for the event.

Also returning is international award-winning violin soloist Soyoung Yoon from South Korea. She decided to return after being impressed last year with the two-week intensive summer music academy.

This year, PRISMA will again kick off with Celebration of the Senses, a free concert at Willingdon Beach, on Wednesday, June 18. It will showcase not only the symphony but also different local music and artistic talents.

A wine and cheese fundraiser is being organized for Thursday, May 1 from 6:30 to 11 pm in Townsite. Arnold will hold a master class in the Patricia Theatre at 7 pm, followed by complimentary food and drinks across the street at The HUB 101 at 8 pm. Arnold will work with some of the youth who participated in the recent Powell River Festival of the Performing Arts.

“It is not only important to pass on musical knowledge to the next generation, but also extremely inspiring to work with these kids, to look into their sparkling eyes when they discover they too can do it,” said Arnold. “To be part of that, whether as a tutor or as audience, is unforgettable.”

Admission to the fundraiser is $100 per person, but if someone wants to attend only the master class session the cost is $10 each. PRISMA memberships will also be available for purchase at the event, or they can be purchased online. People interested in attending the wine and cheese should contact PRISMA general manager Lee Coulter at 604.414.9510 or email

Season passes, which allow admission to all of the concerts, master classes and the student recitals, are already on sale at a cost of $75. Tickets for concerts will go on sale within the next two weeks and will cost $23 each. Music lovers can buy tickets online though PRISMA’s website or at Breakwater Books and Coffee.

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