Students of local music teachers Wilson Smith and Sherri S. Collins gathered at First Presbyterian Church on June 2 and June 4 to perform before parents, relatives and friends in a pair of spring recitals.
The late spring recitals have been held annually since Smith began offering classes in 1980. The classes begin each October, building toward students’ participation in the National Federation of Music Clubs Festival each March, and culminating with the pair of recital performances.
More than 20 students were divided according to experience for the recitals, with first, second and third-year students performing on Friday evening while advanced students, including upper middle school and high school students, took the stage on Sunday afternoon.
Collins, who is Smith’s sister, is retired from a career which saw her teach music in several local schools. She offers voice and instrument lessons privately.
“This completes our year,” Smith explained, “and serves as an opportunity for them to show a summary of the skills they’ve learned throughout the year, including technical, scales and the lessons and experience from the NFMC Festival. It’s a good way to finish.”
Smith acknowledged the contributions of his sister and noted the foundation that many of the older students had received while learning under Collins during her time in with local schools.
He also voiced appreciation to First Presbyterian Church for use of its facility.
“But I still haven’t given up on having an auditorium in Pilot Mountain,” he added. “That’s still a personal dream of mine. Now more than ever, our students and our community need such a venue for the arts.
Both programs featured a theme of “As We Waltz and March into Summer,” with multiple classic waltzes and well-known marching arrangements highlighted in the performances. An emphasis was placed on classical composers.
Performances began and ended with the classic, “There’s No Business Like Show Business.” The number was led by students Kahmea Bowser and Michael Senter. The pair were recipients of the Roland and Foye Smith music scholarships, given my Smith and Collins in memory of their parents to select students based on need, talent and desire. Bowser holds the Foye Smith Scholarship while Senter has received the Roland and Foye Smith Scholarship.
Roland and Foye Smith were also remembered with the traditional lighting of candelabra. 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 his parents.
Other highlight performances included an instrumental trio featuring Elizabeth Porter and Lili Craven on flute and Jacob Smith on clarinet.
“I was very pleased with the evening,” Smith said afterward. “The students were practiced and well prepared. Some parents commented that this may have been our best one yet. That was unexpected but I was glad to hear it.”
“It’s humbling to have the opportunity to work with so many good students for so long,” he noted. “I feel extremely fortunate and I’m already looking forward to next year.”