Music students perform in pair of weekend recitals

First- and second-year students and marshals performing in the Friday evening recital included, front row, from left, Grace Needham, Abigail Gravely, Katelyn Hooker, Michael Senter, Kahmea Bowser, Peter Kulsziski; second row, Emma Brown, Charlotte Hauser, Claire Hauser, Sydney Marshall; third row, Maria Blakeney, Kevin Blakeney, Carson Wilkins, Leslie Rose Campbell, Grayson Simmons and Ariel Kulsziski. Not pictured is Mikayla Kulsziski.

Advanced students and marshals performing in Saturday evening’s recital were, front row, from left, Jacob Smith, Sara Smith, Lili Craven; second row, Cathy H. Lane, Elizabeth Carson, Elizabeth Porter, Claire Hauser; third row, Dalton Ridout, Bethany Hewett, Kay Marie Eads, Blake Hewett, Daphne Dotson, Lindsay Allen and Grayson Simmons. Not pictured but performing is Jodi Ann Key.

PILOT MOUNTAIN — Students of local music teachers Wilson Smith and Sherri S. Collins gathered at First Presbyterian Church Friday and Saturday evenings to perform before parents, relatives and friends in a pair of late spring recitals.

Recitals have been an annual tradition since Smith began offering classes in 1980. Each year the classes begin in October, building toward students’ participation in the National Federation of Music Clubs Festival on the first Saturday in March, and culminating with the spring recital.

“This is what some might call a final exam,” he explained. “It’s a good finish to the year.”

While Collins, who is Smith’s sister, has long been an integral part of the day, this marked the second year in which the event also featured her own private students. After a distinguished career which saw her teach music in several local schools, Collins is now retired and offers voice, instrument and musicianship classes privately. She also serves as music director for First Presbyterian Church.

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 Saturday evening. Both evening performances were entitled, “Celebrating Music, Life and Our 2015 Graduates!”

Smith noted that many of the students used the opportunity to further hone pieces learned for the Winston-Salem NFMC Festival, where they had been performed before judges.

For recital, each student was given the opportunity to perform a solo and ensemble piece and, if desired, a hymn. More than 30 students took part in the two performances.

“I thought both nights went very well,” he noted. “Our first and second year students were especially enthusiastic while our advanced students showed a maturity in their performances.”

According to Smith, the lighting of candelabra has become a traditional part of each recital, with the three flames paying tribute to the three major influences in his life. These are Collins, the late Wilma Swanson, a longtime music teacher in area schools, and Smith’s mother, the late Foye Smith.

“I owe a debt to Wilma Swanson for the inspiration she provided,” Smith noted, “including ideas such as having each student perform a solo and ensemble piece during recital.

“My sister has been with me from the beginning,” he continued. “She had taught most of our students in school. Without her help and advice, this wouldn’t have been possible.

“And my mother,” he noted, “was always a valuable source of inspiration and advice.”

Smith also voiced appreciation to First Presbyterian Church for the use of its facility.

“It has been a busy but good year for these students,” he said. “Those who have been with us from the first have been able to work on and add technical skills in addition to performance skills. And I’ve been astounded by those who joined us late. They’ve done quite well. I’ve been pleased with both groups.”

Dean Palmer may be reached at 336-351-4131 or

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