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Something to sing about

Cumberland Valley School of Music marks anniversary

Cumberland Valley School of Music marks anniversary

October 25, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Cumberland Valley School of Music faculty, alumni, students and supporters celebrated the school's 20th anniversary on Sunday the best way they know how -- through song.

More than 150 performers participated in Cumberland Valley School of Music's 20th Anniversary Showcase Concert on Sunday at The Capitol Theatre Center.

Among them were a tenor from The Washington Opera, a Juilliard graduate student and a woman who was the school's first accepted student.

"The concert is really representative of who we are and what we do," said Paula B. Hepfer, CVSM co-founder and program director.

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"We really wanted to do something for the 20th anniversary that shows what CVSM is all about," Executive Director Andrew Sussman said.

Also featured were some of the school's youngest students who participate in The Cumberbunds chorus.

Logan Cook and Katarina Johansson sang publicly as part of The Cumberbunds for the first time. Both identified "Come to the Music" as their favorite selection.

"We've been learning stage presence. We also learned how to breathe correctly to get the right sound," said Katarina, 11.

Logan's father, Chris Cook, said faculty members' depth of experience was a big draw in choosing the school.

"I think it's a good opportunity. ... There is nothing else around like it," Chris Cook said.

"I think it's a really great school. There's a lot of things you can learn to do," Katarina said.

Hepfer said youth, energy and a bit of naiveté contributed to the early success of Cumberland Valley School of Music. She and Meagan Boozer, and their husbands, started the process to create the school in the fall of 1989.

Boozer taught piano in her home and Hepfer gave voice and piano lessons in hers. Combined, they had approximately 100 students.

"It took us about a year of preparation, putting a board together and a faculty together, and we opened in the fall of 1990," Hepfer said.

She described a reaction similar to a child's on Christmas morning when talking about the first tour of Wilson College's available facilities. There, Hepfer and Boozer discovered a pipe organ and eight Steinway grand pianos.

Now Cumberland Valley School of Music, a nonprofit organization, enrolls 600 students at six locations in Franklin and Washington counties. It offers programs at St. Maria Goretti High School in Hagerstown and three other private schools.

"Because we are a community music school ... our mission is to share our enthusiasm for music and music education," Sussman said.

Students range in age from 18 months to 80-plus, Sussman said.

"It's all ages," he said. "It's all abilities."

Sussman said he joined CVSM 16 years ago when Boozer left to become a pastor in Spring Run, Pa.

"It's been a tremendous joy in my life," he said.

Newer offerings include hip-hop and rock 'n' roll camps. Other instruction is available at some locations in dance, acting improvisation and rock band.

Mallory Poltner, 14, started piano lessons at age 6. Today she studies piano and voice.

"I just enjoy doing it, and I've met a lot of people," she said.

Mallory's older brother, Matthew, also studied at CVSM.

"If they're interested in music, this is the place to be," father Terry Poltner said.

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