Classical music teacher likes what he hears from local students

Students busy fine-tuning performances ahead of regional arts festival

Violinist Curtis Wolfe teaches private lessons at the Seventh-Day Adventist Church at 103 Mile. A number of his students are preparing for 100 Mile Festival of the Arts

Music teacher Curtis Wolfe says he was pleasantly surprised by the local classical music scene when he moved to Lone Butte five years ago.

Compared to his previous home in Enderby, the 100 Mile House area is “highly developed,” says Wolfe, who has been teaching music since the 1950s.

He praises the work of the Eclectica Community Choir and people like harmonica player Anthony Lau, who recently moved to Kelowna from 108 Mile Ranch, Jack Fellner, director of the 100 Mile Adult Community Band, and musician Jasmine Kreschuk, for promoting the arts locally.

Still, a slow exodus of students over the years has in a way depleted the local ranks of violinists and other classical musicians.

However, that isn’t to say Wolfe isn’t busy these days helping students fine tune their craft on the violin, viola or oboe. Every week at the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in 103 Mile, Wolfe helps a number of young musicians prepare performances for the 100 Mile Festival of the Arts, which runs April 22-May 2.

Those dates are “right around the corner,” he adds.

Every form of instrument is done there. We’ll play as a group, plus some will play solos.”

Originally from California, Wolfe has spent most of his life in Canada. He taught band and choir in high schools in the United States between 1964 and 1975. He also taught for 30 years at Canadian University College in Lacombe, Alberta, where he chaired the music department.

He started playing the violin when he was 10, and he has been playing for 70 years. Wolfe talks about a decline in the interest for classical music at one time and how “the pendulum” has swung back. He says students don’t always stick with just one genre or one instrument.

I think it’s true all over North America – nobody wanted to play anything but the guitar. Now, I kind of see more interest in the string and wind instruments as well.

“I have three students who do fiddle (bluegrass) as well as classical music. Maybe the kids think there’s more than just the rock scene?”

Wolfe sees a range of students in the 100 Mile House area – from pre-school students to those in high school. It takes commitment to play an instrument well, he adds, which means not only having private lessons, but also practising at home.

What I like best [about teaching] is the interaction between the students and to watch them improve. Here, I’m really amazed that everyone does well.

“They practice. The parents are supportive. That’s not always the case.”

Wolfe says anyone who plays any string instrument and would like to have a place to play can call him at 250-395-1142.


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