Faculty Spotlight: Maria Ramsey

Welcome to another Faculty Spotlight Friday! This week, meet Maria Ramsey. Maria teaches violin and piano at Artspace and also helps out in the office.

How did you get into music?
My parents are musicians so I grew up with a lot of music in my life. Because I saw them playing instruments, it became a normal part of life in my eyes and there was never really a question of whether I was going to do it or not. I got started by playing songs by ear on the piano. As I got older I always wanted to add more instruments, so I started violin in elementary school, followed by flute, French horn, and then a few others…

Why do you make music? What do you love about it?
I love the way music can make us feel things: how a certain piece of music can make me feel incredibly happy, nostalgic, powerful, or otherwise. I’m constantly amazed by music’s ability to provoke emotions. I also love the people I’ve met through music and the experiences I’ve had coming together with a group to collaborate on creating something beautiful.

Do you have any favorite musical experiences or memories?
So many! First, I had the opportunity in college to co-direct an early music choir. It was a great experience for me musically, and also socially. It was an incredibly kind group of people, and I loved the welcoming– and often goofy–space we were able to create together.

I also got to sing at Carnegie Hall shortly after I graduated from college in a big choral concert. A particularly memorable incident from that concert involved running offstage and up to the balcony in during the performance to sing with a children’s choir in order to “save the show,” in the words of the composer. I’m not sure if the situation was really that dire, but it was rather exciting anyway!

Any creative projects you’re working on currently, or that you’ve completed recently?
I’m working on lots of creative projects currently! In addition to being a musician, I’m also an artist, and I’ve been designing some greeting cards to sell on Etsy and at craft fairs. I also have an illustrated book of children’s poetry in the works…

What’s one thing you love doing besides making music or art?
I love cooking, especially fresh local vegetables.

Faculty Spotlight: Nina Gross

Happy Faculty Spotlight Friday! This week, meet our string and piano teacher Nina Gross!

Nina studied viola and piano performance at Interlochen Arts Academy. She holds her BA and MA degrees from Yale University, where her focus was social science and education. She has been a private strings instructor, writer, and musician-composer. She taught elementary music and violin at the Atlanta Montessori International School, general music and choral instruction at the elementary level in the Bronx, and Suzuki viola at the Atlanta Conservatory of Music.

Nina has played in several symphonies including The Bronx Symphony, The Yale Symphony, and Georgia Philharmonic. She also enjoys chamber music, studio work, and improvisation.

Nina believes musical expression should be the right of every child. In her teaching, she seeks to establish a strong musical foundation and joyous relationship with music. She tries to meet each student where they are and takes an organic approach, incorporating ear work, body movement, music theory, and the language of emotion and musical expression.

Aside from music she enjoys sharing her poetry, practicing aikido, and singing – oops, that’s music. She is currently writing a novel.

Faculty Spotlight: Til Lalezar

Vida Tayebati
Grace Booth
Tone Lorenzen

Happy Faculty Spotlight Friday! Meet the ladies of Til Lalezar Theatre: Vida Tayebati, Grace Booth, and Tone Lorenzen! They recently teamed up with Artspace to offer theatre classes this summer, including a Physical Theatre Workshop from July 3-7.

Why do you make art? What do you love about it?
We believe that art crosses the borders and gives us a chance to see the world from new perspectives.

Any creative projects you’re working on currently, or that you’ve completed recently?
We are currently collaborating with Joan Schirle, Founding Director of Dell’Arte International, in the creation of a site-specific performance in the harbors in Denmark. Norwegian artist Marit Benthe Norheim has built floating sculptures of concrete (12m long), which will sail with skippers and crew in Denmark and on the European rivers and canals. The boats are a three-part portrait of womanhood in various universal stages and states and will become “floating culture houses.” My Ship is Loaded with Longing, with Life and with Memories.

What’s one thing you love doing besides making art?
Travel around the world and learn about new cultures.

Faculty Spotlight: Jeri Bannister

Happy Faculty Spotlight Friday! This week, meet music faculty member Jeri Bannister! Jeri teaches lessons at Artspace on all sorts of brass and woodwind instruments, and she also has extensive teaching experience in public schools, at Northfield Mt. Hermon and Bement.

How did you get into music?
My aunt and cousin were music teachers, my grandmother wanted to be a concert pianist and my father was an excellent tenor who loved to sing. In 3rd grade I took piano lessons from a former teacher at Ithaca College with whom my aunt had studied. In 4th grade there was a music test that all 4th grade students took and I received the highest music mark. Mr. Blank, the band teacher said I should take lessons and that since my older sister was playing trumpet, I should study clarinet. For marching band a trombone player was needed and I studied with an Eastman graduate. When a string program was begun at MACS, I elected to study cello.

Why do you make music? What do you love about it?
Music was always in my head and playing in band or orchestra became a social club since it was held all year. Also in band you had to maintain practice every day to keep your place in the every day band or orchestra rehearsal and were able to play the music at your once a week lesson in school. I was told early that I had musical talent and I loved practicing to make the score perfect. I did attend several NYSMA (New York State) sectionals and was rated on clarinet with an A in grade 6 music for State Finals. I also was selected for the Jr. High All State Band and the All State Senior Band. In Ireland with my relations I was asked to play with the Concord Brass Band on trombone. I usually take my mouthpiece with me, especially in Ireland, so when the director came off the outdoor stage to see if I would play trombone, I was ready. Music I play in here in America can be read/played in any country.

Do you have any favorite musical experiences or memories?
One terrible experience!! At one of my first piano recitals, I was so nervous that when I sat down at the piano for my solo, I had a big beta block. I had played this solo so many times I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t remember it! I began playing something and improvised the whole solo and then left the stage ready to walk out until the applause. I then realized I did OK!
For a POSITIVE experience: It’s very easy to include the memory of my coordinating a Franklin County Elementary Music Festival for 17 years. Included were 32 Elementary Schools with the best musicians chosen from 4-6 grades for a 120 student Elementary Band and an Elementary Chorus of over 120 choristers. Several music teachers were involved with 2 rehearsals and concert. 4 concert band charts were commissioned. The most famous were Andrew Balant, John Edmonson and Anne McGinity who wrote ‘The Mohawk Trail‘.

Any creative projects you’re working on currently, or that you’ve completed recently?
Since I was the founding member of the Pioneer Valley Brass who at its beginning were all members of the Pioneer Valley Symphony, I have arranged many charts for this ensemble. And I also arranged charts for my elementary bands and marching bands.
I’m working on adapting a pipe organ chart for concert band and expect it to be done by September.

What’s one thing you love doing besides making music?
Teaching music to dedicated students who are as interested as I am to be a part of this world-wide experience. The music does not have to be orchestral, concert band or any flavor. All music is worth every note!

Faculty Spotlight: Deborah Rubin

It’s Faculty Spotlight Friday again! Meet our watercolor teacher, Deborah Rubin. This summer, Deborah is teaching Travel Watercolor Sketching the week of July 24th.

How did you get into art?
I was born an artist and musician. Doing things since I was able to use my hands. My mom says I strung beads with a big blunt needle when I was 1 1/2. I’m not sure I believe her! I never had choices to make about a career. It was there from day one.

Why do you make art?
I do art because if I don’t, I feel incomplete. Restless. Not centered. It gives me my peace of mind.

Do you have any favorite artistic experiences or memories?
I have too many art memories, many funny or ironic, but I won’t go there.

Any creative projects you’re working on currently, or that you’ve completed recently?
I’m finishing up my second commissioned painting of water lilies, 30 x 40, for a client at a gallery that represents me in Miami. It was challenging to paint 2 water lily paintings…each had to be different but compliment each other. I’m going to take a break after I finish them and do some plein air watercolors.

What’s one thing you love doing besides making art?
Besides art, I love music which I’ve been doing along with my art from an early age. Until high school, I was unsure if I’d major in music or art in college. Art won out but I still play music and sing.

Faculty Spotlight: Becky Clark

Welcome to the very first Faculty Spotlight Friday! Today, meet our pastel teacher, Becky Clark. Becky teaches both advanced and beginning pastel classes at Artspace, and each spring her advanced students’ work is featured in an exhibit in the Artspace gallery.

How did you get into art?
I have always loved doing art; my earliest memories of receiving joy from my creations came in first grade. I had a strict, old fashioned teacher but when she picked my Thanksgiving drawing to be on the classroom door I was over the moon. And this was on the hallway side, so everyone would see it, even the big kids, teachers and other people’s parents! That wasn’t lost on me even then.

Why do you make art? What do you love about it?
Doing art soothes my soul, in the same way my daily Chi Gong practice soothes me as well. When I first sit down at my drawing table I experience such a feeling of coming home.

Do you have any favorite artistic experiences or memories?
See the first grade memory above. Another memory is from summer camp in the Berkshires. I did not shine at archery or horseback riding but I did with my drawing. Soon girls in my cabin were asking me for pictures, what a high!

Any creative projects you’re working on currently, or that you’ve completed recently?
I have been working on a pastel series for about 18 years now. The reason I do a series is I fear staring at a blank paper and not having a clue. With a series, as I resolve a drawing it often informs the next drawing with just a few lines. I try to make sure that happens each time. Sometimes when other things in my life take precedence I have carried those lines in my head for weeks and months if I wasn’t able to get them on paper. I’m currently on drawing # 315.

What’s one thing you love doing besides making art?
One thing…that’s hard. But I love my flower garden right now!