Ehren Moser and Nicholas Luck play during Algoma University’s Great Lakes International Summer Music Institiute on Tuesday, July 30, 2019. (SUPPLIED PHOTO)

A friendly push convinced Nicholas Luck he needed to be at Algoma University’s Great Lakes International Summer Music Institute.

His music professor at Algoma, Edward Turgeon, urged him to sign on for the two-week learning opportunity that started July 21 and runs at the post-secondary institution and Algoma Conservatory of Music.

“You don’t get the opportunity to really work with professionals, and work with other musicians, in this kind of repertoire,” Luck told The Sault Star during a recent interview.

The Superior Heights Collegiate and Vocational School graduate is wrapping up his piano studies at Algoma. He plans to study composition at Humber College in September. Luck “really got into the classical repertoire” after playing in rock bands including The Frasiers, All of This and Great Chamberlain. He made the switch to focusing on classical music about a year ago.

“This is totally a first-time thing,” he said of his institute participation.

Eighteen students signed up for the first-time learning opportunity. Registrants are evenly split between Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma residents – participants also hail from Wawa and Chapleau – and students, such as Ehren Moser, who are from outside the district. She’s joined by her older sister, Aemilia, and two other students from Edmonton. Other students are from Ottawa, London, Ont., Regina and Florida. They range in age from 12 to mid-twenties. Four, including Luck, study at Algoma.

Moser, a Grade 12 student from Strathcona High School in Edmonton, Alta., also received a nudge from her teacher, Robert Uchida. The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra concertmaster is part of the institute’s faculty.

“The camp offers a really great chamber experience,” said Moser.

She prefers making music with other players. The violinist enjoys the institute’s focus on sight reading and “wide variety” of works explored.

“We started with an idea,” said institute executive director Frank Deresti. “To see it turn into something that’s very real, and the energy around here, is just amazing actually. It’s a really exciting time here at Algoma right now.”

The attitude of students, he adds, is “second to none.

“Everybody is showing up 100 per cent,” said Deresti. “As a result, the progress has been outstanding.”

Instruction includes individual lessons, masterclasses and chamber music groups.

He calls the learning opportunity an “intensive two weeks of consistent music making” that breaks away from the typical learning environment of a student working with a teacher “for an extended period of time.

“These students are getting a whole lot of different perspectives from faculty all over the place,” said Deresti. “I think that’s a big plus.”

He and Turgeon, the program’s artistic director, wanted chamber music emphasized so students could play with students from other communities.

“That’s just a really cool thing for a young person to be able to do, that I don’t think is possible in a lot of other places necessarily,” said Deresti. “The students push each other. Nobody wants to be the weak link. There’s a big strength to the size of our group right now.”

Luck typically does a lesson a week with a teacher and spends three to four hours practising. The institute sees him “committed” to a program that runs about 12 hours a day.

“There’s a lot of different new experiences that you get each day,” said Moser. “Everyday brings you something new, so far it’s never been boring.”

The institute marks her first time in Ontario. She knows the Group of Seven worked in Algoma District. Moser brought her oil paints to the Sault. Moser paints.

A faculty concert runs Thursday at Shingwauk Auditorium. Students and faculty play Friday at the same venue. Start time is 7:30 p.m. both nights. Admission is $20 per show. Tickets are on sale at Shabby Motley Handcraft, university bookstore, online at Eventbrite or by emailing [email protected]

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