Bermuda talent on show with Philharmonic’s ‘Sense of Place’
When Kate Kayaian says there is a lot of musical talent on the island, Sari Smith is one of the people she is talking about.
The 18-year-old violinist is the recipient of one of the Bermuda Philharmonic Society’s merit-based scholarships.
On Sunday, she will perform with the orchestra in its autumn concert, A Sense of Place.
“It’s so exciting being with a full orchestra. There's not a lot of orchestras in Bermuda so you don't get that many opportunities to play in them. So when it does come around I always make sure that I am a part of it,” the teenager said.
She started playing at the age of four, often performing with her older sister, Naphisa. Together, they became known as the “violin sisters”. Their performances helped prepare Sari, a student with the Bermuda School of Music, for Sunday’s show.
“The programme features contrasting works by Edward Elgar – his majestic Pomp and Circumstance No. 4 followed by his sweet love song to his fiancee, Salut D'Amour,” said Ms Kayaian, president of the philharmonic.
“Also on the programme is Gustav Holst’s tribute to his adopted home of St Paul's School in England, Brook Green Suite; William Grant Still's fun Danzas de Panama; and our grand finale, Bedrich Smetana's powerful ode to his Czech homeland, The Moldau.”
Sari’s first performance with the philharmonic was “about three years ago”. She has also earned “a few” of the charity’s financial awards.
This year’s scholarship will go directly towards her music education.
“I'm very thankful for the scholarship,” said the Bermuda College student. “I'm trying to save up for college. I'm getting my associate’s degree and then I'm going away to get my bachelor's degree so that's four years at school. Sometimes a little bit of the funds that I have will have to go to different things so the scholarship definitely frees up my family so that I will be able to keep taking [violin] lessons as well.”
Despite her love of music, it is not what she is focusing on as a future career.
“I'm studying business. I wanted to take some music classes at the college but they didn't have any. Hopefully I will be able to go to the US and minor in music and do a major in business.”
A Sense of Place hopes to replicate the “success of last May's first post-Covid string orchestra concert”.
“We are thrilled to be bringing back our full symphonic forces with the addition of our wind, brass and percussion players. This island is rich with talent, and the Bermuda Philharmonic is made up of our professional musicians from the Bermuda School of Music, Menuhin Foundation, Regiment Band, and virtually every school and organisation from around the island, as well as our thriving adult non-professional community,” Ms Kayaian said.
“We have 15 of our musicians who are extremely fine players who have chosen other, non-musical career paths. The Bermuda Philharmonic is a place where they can continue to contribute their talent, pursue their artistic passion and retain close ties to their musical life.”
Six “talented” students will also perform on Sunday, some of whom are 2022 scholarship winners, she added.
“Each year, we give out $10,000 in bursary and scholarship awards to young music students around the island. Our scholarship awards are merit-based and give recognition to those students who are both excelling in their musical studies and are making a strong contribution to the island's musical community.”
Twelve music students received scholarships from the Bermuda Philharmonic Society this year.
Patrons Jens and Janet Alers donated concert tickets to the musicians who are not performing with the Philharmonic in Sunday’s show, A Sense of Place. This idea is to have them “experience the power of a live orchestra performance”.
Below is the full list of winners. Those names marked with an asterisk will perform at St John’s Church this weekend:
Rayna Abbott, Ruth Correia, *Satya Darrell, Prince Domingo, *Ava Gibson
Dylan Jeffrey, Nicholas Medeiros, Amaris Munya, Amaya Nusum-Bean
*Sari Smith, Edward Wyer, *Elizabeth Wyer.
Sari is grateful for the opportunity and looking forward to being a part of it.
“I think they just want to give young people an opportunity to perform in different places they wouldn't usually be able to,” she said. “It's a great opportunity to meet other musicians in Bermuda – both amateurs and professionals – and be able to learn from them and just make connections with different people and just be a part of the music community in Bermuda.
“I would love to be able to be a part of the philharmonic one day when I come back from college. I think that would be a good thing.”
The Bermuda Philharmonic holds special memories for many people here, Ms Kayaian added.
“It has long been a beloved and important cultural institution on the island and I have loved hearing everyone's stories about summer pops concerts and large choral concerts, and am struck by how strong and important those memories are for people.
“The board has been working tirelessly to bring the philharmonic back to its former glory and we have an exciting season planned. We are incredibly grateful for our individual and corporate sponsors, the Bermuda Arts Alliance, as well as everyone who has purchased tickets.”
A Sense of Place takes place on Sunday at 4pm at St John's Church in Pembroke. Tickets, $65 for adults and $35 for students under the age of 18, can be purchased at bit.ly/3UCMKl0. For more information visit bermudaphilharmonic.org