Students of local music teachers Wilson Smith and Sherri S. Collins gathered at First Presbyterian Church on two occasions over the weekend to perform before parents, relatives and friends.
Students were divided according to experience for the pair of recitals, with first- and second-year students performing on Friday night while advanced students took the stage on Sunday afternoon.
The spring recital has been an annual tradition since Smith began offering classes in 1980. The classes begin each October and build toward students’ participation in the National Federation of Music Clubs Festival, held on the first Saturday of each March in Winston-Salem,
Collins, who is Smith’s sister, has long been an integral part of the day. She had been familiar with most students through her work as a music teacher in local school music programs. After retirement, she continued to work with local youths by providing voice and instrument lessons privately. Those students are also now featured as part of the recitals.
The programs featured a theme of “Marching into Summer,” with multiple classic and well-known marching arrangements highlighted in performance.
The Friday evening performance featured six first and second year students, representing a wide range of ages, taking part.
“We were very pleased with the evening,” Smith said, “and all the students played well. We were glad to see a range of ages participating, with the older students providing inspiration to the younger students.”
Sunday afternoon’s expanded recital featured some 20 experienced students performing both solo and ensemble pieces. Smith noted that many of the students used the opportunity to further hone pieces they had learned for the NFMC Festival.
“This was a different circumstance,” he explained, “with students performing for an audience instead of for judges. But they were able to use the skills they’d learned to keep building in pieces and there was some really artistic results. Several students also received recognitions. They did well and parents were pleased.”
A particularly poignant moment came with the traditional lighting of candelabra, just before Smith performed. Each year the candelabra, given to Smith by students on his 25th anniversary of teaching, are lit in recognition of the three major influences in his life. According to Smith, these are Collins, the late Wilma Swanson, a longtime music teacher in area schools, and Smith’s parents, the late Roland and Foye Smith.
Smith noted the confidence gained from public performance as an important benefit for students.
“But I also want to give to them what was given to me,” Smith explained. “That is an appreciation of music that will remain with them for the rest of their lives.”