Young musicians from St. Albert and Germany teamed up last weekend to take part in a worldwide virtual concert.
About 250 people from around the world tuned into an online concert Dec. 11 organized by the Visionary Centre for the Performing Arts in St. Albert and Musikshule Maier in Ginsheim-Gustavsburg, Germany. The concert was the first international collaboration between the two schools.
St. Albert music teacher Barbara Leah Meyer said she worked with Uwe and Christiane Maier while she was living in Germany. Last February, the Maiers contacted her and proposed a joint online concert between their two music schools.
“This is the first time we’re doing this, and it’s such a delight to do,” Meyer said.
Uwe and Christiane said their school started doing online concerts during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was the school’s second trans-Atlantic virtual concert; the first one happened last March in partnership with a school in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
“We want to give our students and Barbara’s students an idea of connecting together through music,” Christiane said, and expose the students to different cultures.
The concert involved roughly 87 students from the two schools performing vocal, guitar, bass, musical theatre, and piano numbers in English and German. On tap were Christmas classics such as Jingle Bells and Ihr Kinderlein kommet, as well as hard-rock numbers from Metallica and Iron Maiden. Each student filmed their performance individually, with the Maiers stitching the videos together into a single concert. Duets were performed with a split-screen.
St. Albert pianist Adam Saeed, age 7, played Jolly Old Saint Nicholas alongside Germany’s Jeremy Cucchiera as part of the concert’s lone trans-Atlantic duet.
Cucchiera played his part first and Saeed played along to the recording, Meyer said.
“He’s one of those kids who are super keen and a really quick study,” she said, and he was able to match Cucchiera’s performance with split-second timing.
Uwe and Meyer said the concert involved many weeks of planning and practice, with some students filming their segments less than a day before the concert. The nearly eight-hour time difference between their two countries was challenging, as was getting permission from all the families involved.
“We’ve actually got people tuning in from all over the world,” Meyer said, including residents from the Philippines, Israel, and the Netherlands.
Guests at the concert got to learn more about St. Albert and Ginsheim-Gustavsburg, a town of about 16,500 on the Rhine and Main rivers famous for its ship-mill (a mill powered by a paddleboat-like waterwheel). Ginsheim-Gustavsburg Mayor Thorsten Siehr brought greetings on behalf of his community.
Uwe and Meyer said they were definitely interested in future joint concerts, perhaps with live performances on separate stages.
“The thrill for me is seeing the kids get excited about it,” Meyer said.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s really worth it.”