Article Originally Appeared in The Montreal Gazette
By: Kathryn Greenaway
Published: August 15, 2017
On a recent hot and sunny August morning, Ashley Murphy, Veronica Jaramillo and Belinda Chung stood on the dimly lit stage in the Lindsay Place High School theatre discussing the finer points of François-Joseph Gossec’s Tambourin — a lilting composition for flute.
Percussion instruments were pushed upstage to make room. Milk cartons filled to bursting with sheet music were plunked downstage. The three teenagers positioned themselves behind their music stands, tapping out the rhythm with their feet as they raised their flutes to play.
“Everything super loud at the top and then at 18 — kill it,” Jaramillo said. “I want to hear the contrast.”
Loud would be good.
The trio is part of a contingent of current and recently graduated music students from Lindsay Place High School’s Music and Arts Etude programs that is spending the week busking the classics at the Place-des-Arts and Berri-UQAM metro stations. Metro stations were not built with acoustics in mind.
“The flute is a quiet instrument,” Jaramillo said during a brief rehearsal break. “It’s good for solos. So we’re going to have to play much louder than we usually do.” Jaramillo is the student planner for the event. She took on the responsibility to find students available for both rehearsals and performances during the summer months, organized the performance schedules and found the chaperones.
The Montreal Symphony Orchestra organized the initiative as part of the ongoing celebrations of Montreal’s 375th anniversary. A quintet from McGill University will also participate in the daily 4:30-to-5:30 p.m. metro gigs which run through Friday.
The LPHS students will play wind and string instruments in small groups — be it a duo, a trio or a quintet.
“It’s a privilege to be invited to do this, at our age,” Murphy said.
“And it’s amazing that they chose a group of teenagers to promote classical music,” Jaramillo said.
The students gathered to practice on their own initiative, often having to juggle other summer responsibilities and job hours to fit in the practices. The parents are also doing their part by driving them to and from rehearsals and then to and from the metro. Parents are also chaperones during performances.
“The level of involvement from both the students and the parents speaks to the quality of the music program,” principal David Estok said. “These are high-performing students.”
Students enrolled in the LPHS Arts Etude program have rehearsals before school, sometimes at lunch and after school, along with music classes during academic hours including private sessions with professionals. It takes commitment.
Estok said the LPHS music department has a stellar reputation in the West Island. Students often go on to pursue music studies at CEGEP and beyond.
The student performances pave the wave for a free 375th anniversary concert featuring the MSO, the Orchestre Métropolitain and the McGill Symphony Orchestra playing together for the first time, on the east side of Mount Royal, Aug. 19 at 9 p.m.
Both Jaramillo and Murphy will continue their music studies at Vanier College in the fall and both are hoping to pursue music as a career. But Chung is shifting gears and has enrolled in the Science en Nature program — taking the English portion at Vanier College and the French portion at CEGEP de St-Laurent. She wants to be a pharmacist.
“I’m honoured to be part of this experience because I don’t plan on pursuing music and I don’t know when I will pick up a flute again,” Chung said.
Estok said that no matter whether the students pursue music following high school, it will remain part of their DNA.
“They take with them an appreciation of music and its history, to say nothing of what it has done for their cognitive abilities,” Estok said.