Students of local music teachers Wilson Smith and Sherri S. Collins gathered at First Presbyterian Church in Pilot Mountain 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 evening.
The late 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, having taught for 36 years at local schools including East Surry High School, Shoals, Westfield and Pilot Mountain schools. Programs under her leadership included the areas of band, choral and general music, encompassing grades pre-K through high school.
After retirement, she has continued to work with local youths by providing voice and instrument lessons privately. She also serves as music director/accompanist at First Presbyterian Church.
Smith is quick to note his sister’s contribution to the success of his classes throughout the years, noting the technical basics and love of music she has instilled in generations through her work in the school system.
Seventeen students took part in the pair of recitals, with six students performing on Friday night and an expanded recital featuring a variety of individual and joint performances as well as the presentation of awards taking place on Sunday.
Both programs featured a theme of “2018 – A Vintage Year in Music.” The choice of theme and pieces was a tribute to longtime area music teacher Wilma Swanson. Musical selections were taken from those used in Swanson’s own recitals. Smith trained under Swanson and now refers to her as a mentor and an inspiration.
“She made an impact in all our lives,” Smith said. “Now, I try to impart some of that same experience through my own teaching and recitals.”
The lighting of a candelabra also become a part of the recital tradition, as candles are lit in honor of those who have significantly impacted Smith’s own love of music. These include Swanson, Smith’s parents, the late Roland and Foy Smith, his sister and the late Dr. Kathryn Eskey, former professor of organ at UNC-Greensboro.
Several students received awards, including recognitions from performances during the National Federation of Music Clubs Festival.
Kay Marie Eads was honored with the Grand Cup award, the top festival award recognizing points accumulated during a student’s cumulative history of performances. She is the first student in the Winston-Salem festival to receive the award.
As a graduating senior, she was also honored with the senior award.
Other students receiving federation awards included Jacob Smith, Lili Craven, Sara Smith and Jodi Ann Key.
Smith also presents trophies earned by students during his classes with recipients including Emma Brown, Jacob Smith and Sara Smith. Elizabeth Porter was honored with a certificate presentation.
“Both nights went very well,” Smith said afterward. “I was very pleased with the enthusiasm and joy I saw on Friday night. And on Sunday, every student seemed well prepared. Some parents said it was the best recital we’ve had.”