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Communique: "Valentine Gala" With Acclaimed Wilmington Musicians | Thursday, 2/15

Danijela Zezelj-Gualdi, Artistic Director of CMA

On Thursday, February 15, UNCW's Community Music Academy holds a Valentine Gala at Beckwith Recital Hall to benefit young musicians. Violinist Danijel Zezelj-Gualdi is the Artistic Director-she will perform at the event, along with a host of other fine musicians. There is also a silent auction.

The musicians: Paolo Andre Gualdi (piano), Elizabeth Loparits (piano), Justin Hoke (classical guitar), Natalie Boeyink (double-bass), Christina Brier (harp), Isabella Stollenmaier (mezzo soprano), Linda Estep (violin), Clark Spencer (viola), and Jacob Wenger (cello). The concert begins at 7:30 pm and will last about an hour; at 7:00 pm, there is a reception and bidding begins on silent auction items.

Ceramic works by Sasha Federer will be up for auction

Artists who donated work for the silent auction include Christina Farley, Barry Knopf, MJ Cunningham, and South Carolina ceramicist, Sasha Federer. A basket of books is on auction, donated by the English Department and representing several professor's favorite reads. Wine and hor d'oeuvres are also part of the celebration. 

Tickets are available online, by telephone at 910-962-3500, and (if available), on the night of the event at the Cultural Arts Building Box Office. The ticket price is remarkably inexpensive for this collection of talent, with a general public advance ticket at $15; that goes up to $20 at the door.

Danijela: I am a violin and Viola instructor at UNCW as well as the Artistic Director of Community Music Academy, an outreach program with the Music Department. We are a school where people from the community and non-music students at the University can take lessons from our distinguished UNCW music faculty. And not only that, but we also have a student teaching program where the community members can take lessons in individual instruments and group classes for a very approachable price because students, music students, are teaching it.

Gina:      So, so people in the community can come and brush up on their instrument- or can they even learn a new instrument?

Danijela: Absolutely, we accept any age, any level of expertise in music. Even just love for music is enough for you to start playing an instrument. We also do summer camps. There's one coming up in June 10-15, and is designed for students from the kindergarten to end of high school, K through 12.

Gina:      Who is that camp for?

Danijela: This is the second year we're going to do it and it's a high level a chamber orchestra camp, but we also of course have programs for the beginners. So basically it is approachable to anyone, but main focus is on Middle School orchestra, High School Orchestra, and chamber ensembles of those age levels. We have half a day camp and day camp and this year we are expanding it to overnight camp for students who are not living in Wilmington and would like to attend that.

Gina:      Is that for string students then?

Paintings have been donated to the auction (partical representation; artist unknown)

Danijela: For all instruments, piano, woodwinds, brass, and string instruments. Last year we were string instrument heavy, but I would like that as we expand on that and have a full orchestra. So socialize, make friends, to play together to hang out the whole day and surrounded by music.

Gina:      And do they have to audition?

Danijela: They don't have to audition. They have to just express their interest and then we will come up. Why I'm mentioning the summer camp is because actually the purpose of our gala is to collect funds to have scholarships for the attendees of the summer camp this year. Summer camp provides a unique opportunity because if you're not sure if your child would be interested into an instrument—it’s a five days after school is over, it's the first week after school is done. It's a great opportunity to immerse them into a full blast music environment and see if they like it, if they like what they hear, how, how the world works, the rehearsals and all that and decide if that instrument or being a musician is actually for them, if they like it. Usually children and students really enjoy summer camps.

Gina:      Tell me about the musicians who will, who will be performing at the Gala.

Pianist Paolo Andre Gualdi

Danijela: Our Gala will represent most of our faculty teachers, some guest artists and a student teacher, Isabella Stollenmaier. She's a UNCW music major in voice and she is actively participating as a teacher through Community Music Academy. She will be performing a set of songs with the Elizabeth Loparits as an accompanist. We will have, for the first time, UNCW string faculty quartet formed and performing. And it's our first time we will be performing in public and it's very exciting because UNCW Music Department didn't have a string quartet until now. That includes me, Ms Linda Estep on the second violin, Dr Clark Spencer on Viola, and Dr Jake Wenger on cello. We will also have pianist Paolo Gualdi, my husband, perform and collaborate together with Dr Boeyink playing a jazz number. And he's also going to play with me, together we are going to perform Zigeunerweisen or Gypsy Airs by Sarasate. And our newest addition to the faculty is Christina Brier. She's going to be performing a piece on a harp. It's going to be a very exciting, a very diverse program, entertaining not too long-about an hour of music. And I think the programming will really capture a heart of anybody who, you know, enjoys classical music, but it was some serious before serious pieces and some light-hearted tangos and such.

Gina:      And then you're also having a silent auction.

Work by Christine Farley

Danijela: Yes. I am so grateful. So many local artists and if I may name the few, Barry Knopf, Karen Will's, MJ Cunningham, Ms Christina Farley-who actually collected all this art for me-are donating their paintings, which we will be silent auctioning in order to raise funds. We also have a basket of books that miss, um, Rebecca Lee from UNCW's English department has collected, where all the professors picked their favorites and they put it in their basket.

Gina:      Oh how interesting.

New Speaker:  I'm grateful for to Wilmington wine, Wilmington wine. John and Bethany, this is the third year in a row they donated their wine to help our cause. So there's going to be a really delicious wine and some food that new music department has pitched in. And so overall I think, uh, an event, uh, that satisfies all the senses. We also have Sasha Federer are from South Carolina sending his pottery. He's a very famous potter and makes beautiful pieces on silent induction.

Gina:      Daniella, how did you become the leader of the Community Music Academy?

Danijela: Community Music Academies existing now since 2010, so about eight years and it started really with Chris Johns, Cello, who is now part of Ronald Sachs company. We just wanted to teach a private studio a at our workplace, at UNCW, and the idea was just to make that happen, to allow our faculty at the Music Department to be able to teach community people. But now eight years later we have almost 15 faculty members and we have like 200 students, so it has really grown into, into a beast of its own. So I'm very, very proud. We are growing. We have incredible projects such as know Ronald Sachs competition, International Music Competition that we are hosting in May, the eleventh and twelfth. We have a summer camp and outreach projects where we actually start the string programs in community schools, one of such programs I just started at Friends School. It's called Pre-Twinkle Try It, this is a program that starts very, very young students on string instruments. And actually I wanted to say thank you to Donna Richie who helped start this, a project there. but this is not the spot we were going to be starting this is not the only spot we are starting outreach programs for young students around schools.

So it's very exciting. and not only that, but I think it's an incredible opportunity for music educators. Future educators are music students at UNCW to get their feet wet in teaching an individual teaching and group teaching and think in the entrepreneur entrepreneuristic kind of way. How to in today's world create jobs and how to help communities realize that the classical music and music education is something that we cannot give up and we have to nourish it. So overall, I'm super excited about Community Music Academy and it's vision.

Harpist Christina Brier

Gina:      Beautifully stated. One more thing is, um, tell me, you have about 200 students now?

Danijela: Yeah.

Gina:      And can you tell me what are they studying?

Ceramic piece by Sasha Federer

Danijela: All instruments really-we have piano. We have about four or five teachers teaching piano, both student teachers and faculty teachers. We have five violin teachers and viola teachers. It's very, very exciting. Cello…there's voice. We have a student teacher in voice. We have woodwind instruments as well. Guitar students, a lot of different instruments. It's um, we have, we can, we can cover any desire, like if you have a student or a child that wants to play different instruments. We have that.

Gina:      What about the accordion?

Danijela: Well…..You want to play accordion--- I'll find an accordion teacher for you.

Gina Gambony is hosting this event.

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