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Volume 38 Issue 4 • May 22 - 28, 2008
now in our 38th season

Sharing the Joyous Rapture of Music

by Marli Guzzetta

As a cellist and music teacher, one of Molly Glazer's greatest joys in the world is not to be noticed.  That is to say, she has developed an affinity for performing with her young students, like the wild-haired brothers River and Zeb Bennett or the refined Grace McLellan, at monthly recitals in public venues and at Sherburn Commons.  Glazer knows that, as an adult, when you perform with young musicians, you're not the main event — and she's okay with that.

"Students and faculty performing together is a hallmark of my instruction," said the woman who has been teaching music on the island for almost a decade.  "I like the student to feel equal with the teacher.  I want them to have a professional concert experience, one in which they're really making music."

As the head of the NCMC Nantucket School of Music, Glazer has achieved a level of bliss with her work that few people do in life.  It's been said that to work is to pray.  Glazer files her life's work under this truism.

"I see playing music as a spiritual path," she says.  "Some people call it, 'Being in a zone.'  There's such a Zen you get your mind out of the way and are just with the music and making sound.  It's really like being with God."

Last year, Glazer assumed control over the musical organization — ascending from Summer Director in March to Executive Director in July, when Dr. Gerald Mack ended his long run with the organization.  This summer, the NCMC/ Nantucket School of Music resumes its summer programming with an extended list of instructors and available classes, including a summer hip-hop class for teens.

During Glazer's young tenure, the school's faculty and number of classes have grown.  A great example is the Children's Chorus, directed by St. Paul's Episcopal Church musical director Joe Dudzkisnki.

"He took that over and made that really fun," Glazer adds.  "He's even taught them some choreography, and now they're doing scenes from musicals."

With a grant from the Nantucket Golf Club Foundation, the group has also just begun a new beginners' string program through the Nantucket Community School," she offers.  "Nineteen kids started violin and cello during winter session.  That's a good number for a place this size. That's really cool."

The school has also grown its number of adult students, many of whom are taking adult cello, piano, and voice.

Glazer would like to continue fundraising efforts with the major goal of importing off-island teachers and purchasing new instruments.  (As part of those fund-raising efforts, faculty and other musicians are often available to perform at parties and other private and public functions.)

While Glazer still teaches cello, she's also become a kind of teacher even to students who aren't hers on the cello — encouraging them all, through the school's mission, to play live in front of an audience in a 'real world' venue.

"It builds confidence," Glazer says. "For a successful performance, a person has to be present.  So performing is like a practice in how to be present, and there's nothing better than that for your inner state."

Glazer walks as she talks, as well. She's got the measured appearance of a perpetual student, and though she is perfectly eloquent in her speech, her communication style seems much more assertive and self-assured when it comes through the bow.  In May of last year, Glazer and harpist Mary Keller released Music From our Heartstrings, a compilation of Bach, Faure, Handel and Respighi, medieval dances, Irish and Jewish folk tunes and sacred melodies.

During Nantucket's off-season, Glazer leaves the safety net of her island audiences to perform in locations like last month's Bethlehem Bach Festival in Pennsylvania last month.

These live performances are a kind of spiritual homecoming for Glazer.  It was playing for an audience, as a young student musician, that cemented her love and commitment for the art form.  Glazer took a gap year between high school and college, during which time she began playing with the Youth Orchestra of Philadelphia.

"I came in in contact with people who were so dynamic," Glazer remembers. "I was encouraged by others. I wanted to pursue more, because it was so much fun."

Glazer studied cello and viola da gamba at New England Conservatory and the Royal Conservatory of the Netherlands and performed throughout the United States and Europe (recording with five labels), before moving to Nantucket from Manhattan in 1992 in order to teach for the NCMC.

In 2001, Glazer's hopes of becoming director stalled when she and husband Skip anticipated their first child.  Now, her son plays the violin and piano, and Glazer has assumed the position she moved here to fill.  Currently the school enjoys 130 students and 16 instructors, and Glazer is hopeful that the number will increase.

"Sometimes I feel like I'm walking down Main Street with a torch for studying music," said Glazer, who acknowledged that getting students interested in classical music is tougher than ever.  "There's nothing fast about it. You don't learn an instrument in eight weeks, and there are so many other things competing for a kid's time.  But the rewards can't even be assessed.  It’s long and sometimes laborious, but the rewards are unfathomable."

River Bennett is a good example of the fruits of her educational labor.  This summer, Bennett is holding a local concert to benefit the African Children's Choir for the second year.

"I used to work at a school in New York where the head of the department would say, 'We're not here to make musicians, just future audience members," Glazer remembers.  "And that's true for the ones who don't continue, but I have hope that they'll always have it in their life. … There's nothing like making sound with other people.  It's a joyous rapture."

For more on the NCMC/ Nantucket School of Music, and its summer programming, go to www.nantucketschoolofmusic.org.  The school's annual music benefit on June 14 will feature Art Baron and the Duke's Men, formerly of Duke Ellington's Orchestra.  Go to the website or call 508-325-5935 for more information.  Copies of Music from Our Heartstrings are still available at Annye's Whole Foods, Bookworks, Flowers on Chestnut, and the Nantucket Looms.

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