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ARC Annual Concerto and Aria Competition Winners Concert

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From Debussy and Mozart to Rachmaninoff, Sachse, Tchaikovsky and Puccini, an abundance of beautiful music will fill the air for the Seventh Annual Concerto and Aria Concert, featuring the Concerto-Aria soloist competition winners accompanied by the full ARC orchestra, on March 10 and 11 at the American River College Theater.

While some musicians might find performing exciting and others might find it stressful, all the musicians recognize the healing power of music.

Music helps me live a stress free life,” said Kate Drennan, clarinet. “I’ve been playing music for almost 22 years and I love every minute that I get to play, listen, or sing. Music has helped me cope with the stress I get from work and personal life.”

Drennan has Rheumatoid/Osteo Arthritis, mostly in her wrist, so playing for extended periods of time is painful.

“I have to strategically figure out practicing time and playing time, but sometimes when I’m really deep into what I’m playing I forget that I may be in physical pain,” said Drennan.

Most of the performers are singing or playing an instrument, but ARC also invites original compositions. Alia Martin will be premiering her work, Cogitation. She, too, recognizes the power of song.

“I believe that music is one of the most healing forces in the world,” said Martin. “It has the ability to change your mood in an instant – a single piece can bring you nostalgia, melancholy, rage and euphoria. Music has the power to treat depression, anxiety, and even chronic illness. What I love about it is that it is always there no matter what the situation happens to be, and the right song can cleanse you mentally and spiritually.”

ARC is unusual in allowing so many soloists to perform in one concert. Director Steven Thompson says he believes the program is unique among colleges.

“Usually, only one student from an entire music school might be invited to play a concerto, but we put about ten soloists on stage each year,” said Thompson. “That makes it a really exciting event for all of us and for the community.”

Soloists come from varied backgrounds. Most are traditional college students, working toward their first degree, like Martin. Some are returning to college after a long break, like trumpet player, Julius Katz.

I played through high school and during my first two years of college,” said Katz. “I studied music seriously for a couple of years in the late 1970’s, then I put the trumpet away in 1980 and didn’t pick it up again until 2005. As of this spring semester, I enrolled as a music major at American River College.”

Katz appreciates the opportunity that ARC provides.

“Playing a solo gives you an opportunity to choose the music you want to perform, an opportunity to team with full instrumental accompaniment and the conductor, and forces you to engage in focused and serious preparation,” said Katz. “This provides the opportunity to bring your own style, your own sound and interpretation of the music.”

Martin echoed her appreciation of Thompson’s support through the process.

“Dr. Thompson provides a wonderful support system,” said Martin. “Along with directing the orchestra, he takes the time to encourage his students to learn and grow as musicians. He gave me this opportunity to broaden my horizons and learn how to work with an entire ensemble. He always makes sure I am on the right path and that I know exactly what to expect.”

For more information on the American River College Orchestra and the March 10 & 11 Concerto and Aria Concert, contact Dr. Steven Thompson at (916) 484-8433 or visit the ARCO website. General information can also be found at the ARCO Facebook page.

About the author

Kate Wells

Kate Wells has been studying violin for the last ten years and loves the variety of classical music that Sacramento area offers. She has worked as a river guide, lighting specialist, martial arts instructor, and is currently teaching English at Charter University Prep in Placerville.

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