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Young musicians shine at Coolfont festival

July 19, 2004|by RYAN NICHOLSON/Staff correspondent

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - For the second year in a row, the International Music Institute and Festival at Coolfont Resort has attracted some of the world's most gifted young musicians to Morgan County.

This year is the first in which students from West Virginia are participating in the festival.

Charles Morey, Clemens Hsiao and Elise Shen joined 15 other students at the annual event in Berkeley Springs. The three West Virginia students are studying and performing with 12 other students from as far away as Japan and Indonesia.

The students receive individual lessons, are assigned to chamber groups, participate in orchestras and attend lectures and performances given by acclaimed faculty.

Faculty for the 10-day festival include professional performers, college music professors and authors.

Charles Borowsky is the institute director and said a well-rounded approach is emphasized.

"The students not only practice, they have daily personal meditations and morning exercises," he said.

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"We stress a complementary development. A musician has to develop as a person. When performing, the audience gets not only the sound of your instrument, they get the sound of your personality," he said.

Charles Morey, 14, from Fayetteville, W.Va., is home-schooled and has studied violin since he was 21/2 years old. He is a member of the West Virginia Youth Orchestra.

Charles, who said he listens only to classical violin music, admits he's having the time of his life. He said he practices at every opportunity, which is one reason he's having such a good time there.

"I'm mostly enjoying the intensity of practice. You don't have any other obligation but to practice," he said.

Gudny Gudmunsdotter, a violin instructor from the Music Conservatory in Iceland, said Charles is a "very gifted young violinist, like the others here. The level here is international and he fits in extremely well."

Clemens Hsiao, 13, is an eighth-grader at Suncrest Middle School in Morgantown, W.Va., and has played cello for four years. He said that during the summer he doesn't usually have many opportunities to play music with other kids, so he is enjoying the interaction.

Cecylia Barczyk, his cello instructor at the institute who also is a prize-winning performer and a faculty member at Towson (Md.) University, said Clemens is "very gifted and has shown very nice improvement. He shows good promise for the future."

Elise Shen, 11, is a violinist entering sixth grade at John Adams Middle School in Charleston, W.Va. Like Charles, she is a member of the West Virginia Youth Symphony. She said she was inspired at age 5 to play the violin when she visited the West Virginia Vandalia Gathering in Charleston.

One of the youngest students at the institute, Elise has a mature outlook on practice.

"Before performing, you try to practice 110 percent because when you perform, people will make mistakes. People will be upset. People won't think that they did well, but as long as you try to do your best and prepare your best, then whatever happens, it happens."

Elise said she practices two to 21/2 hours a day at home.

All of the students at the institute will have an opportunity to display their talent this week in a series of performances.

The institute will host a graduation concert Tuesday at 8 p.m. at the Pavilion at Coolfont. The final three performances are called "Music for Peace." The students will perform Wednesday at 7 p.m. at St. Francis Church in Gettysburg, Pa.; on Thursday at noon at the Pennsylvania State House in Harrisburg, Pa.; and on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Quaker Meeting House in Biglerville, Pa.

All the concerts are free and open to the public. For more information, go to www.coolfont.com on the Web.

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