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Taking Music to the Community

Russell Fallstad        The Fry Street Quartet, including Russell Fallstad (center), participates in outreach efforts for the Department of Music throughout the year.
In keeping with Utah State University’s land-grant mission of service to all people, the Department of Music sponsors several community music programs. These programs provide a wealth of learning and performing opportunities for young and old alike.

Talented student musicians fill the halls of Utah State University’s Chase Fine Arts Center and appear on concert stages on campus year round. These students study with some of the best faculty members in the region. Promising string musicians can study with professionals — the members of the Fry Street Quartet. Gary Amano’s piano students are always at the top of their game and operate in the rarified realm of international competition. Guitarists are able to study in one of the few guitar performance and education programs in the region with its nationally- known director Mike Christiansen.
And while it is the mission of the Music Department to train and graduate the best students possible, it does not forget its roots as a land-grant institution and its ties to the community.
Here’s a roundup of the programs available to the community:
Youth Conservatory – The Key to a Musical Future
The conservatory’s tag line is “The key to a Musical Future,” and that’s certainly true for aspiring young pianists. For three decades, the Youth Conservatory has assisted parents in providing the best for their children by fostering the standards of musical excellence in a learning environment filled with enthusiasm and enjoyment. Founded in 1978 by internationally recognized pianist and pedagogue Gary Amano, the YC occupies a central role among Cache Valley’s cultural programs for young people. Each week, more than 300 pianists, ages 4-18, come to the Chase Fine Arts Center for piano lessons and musicianship classes. Activities, recitals and fun-filled learning take place throughout the academic year. Multiple young pianists got their start to the concert stage through USU’s Youth Conservatory.
Cache Chamber Orchestra
If you haven’t picked up that fiddle since graduating from high school or college, don’t worry. The Cache Chamber Orchestra is perfect for you. This all-volunteer, college-community ensemble gathers musicians from all walks of life to perform in the chamber music tradition. The orchestra gets together once a week to rehearse, then presents three concerts during the academic year. Several summer concert appearances have just been added. The orchestra is under the direction of composer and retired educator Robert Frost. The Music Department’s outreach efforts make this Cache Valley’s only community-based orchestra.
Cache Children’s Choir
The fine tradition of children’s choirs is a part of Cache Valley’s musical heritage thanks to the efforts of those who established the Cache Children’s Choir, an organization whose members have performed internationally. A goal of the choir is to prepare children for a lifetime of singing through quality musical training. Children, ages 3-15, can join one of four choirs and a pre-school class. From the beginning level Caprice Choir, to the advanced, auditioned Cantate Choir, young singers develop talent and self-esteem through guided musical experiences thanks to the choir’s trained and professional staff. The Cache Children’s Choir was founded by Bonnie Slade in 1988.
String Academy
Young string players are not forgotten thanks to the USU String Academy, an organization that serves a dual purpose — providing instruction on string instruments to young musicians while providing a laboratory teaching program for USU’s string music majors. The USU students receive teacher training courses provided by master teachers, several who have been nationally recognized Suzuki pedagogues, then take these techniques directly to the young string musicians in the community. Private instruction, from beginning to artist level, in violin, viola and cello, is offered. In addition, there are group classes, chamber music, instruction in music theory and plenty of performance opportunities.
American Festival Chorus
The Music Department doesn’t forget the adult singers in the community, and the American Festival Chorus fills the bill. The choir replaces the Northern Utah Choral Society, a group with a long and distinguished history in the community and the Music Department. The new choir is open to community residents and USU students alike. It is an auditioned group that meets once a week and plans to present choral masterworks twice a year. Music Department Head Craig Jessop, former music director and conductor of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, leads the American Festival Chorus, teaming with the group’s General Manager Jay Richards, a professional composer, musician and member of the Cache Valley community.
Alumni Band
While membership is only open to those who performed with the department’s concert bands over the years, this flagship organization shares its musical talents with the community every summer. Established in 1963 by long-time music educator and former Department Head Max Dalby ­— a legend in the state’s band history — the band and its members share the music-in-the-park tradition five times during the summer. Concerts are a popular treat for everyone.
More information about the Department of Music is available at its Web site.
June 2008

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