5 P.E.I. students heading to national music festival

This year five P.E.I. music students will be competing in the National Music Festival in Saskatoon in August, which is more than usual.

The students are some of the cream of the crop from P.E.I.'s provincial music festival. 

"Some years are stronger than others," said Lynda Sharpe, who runs the provincial music festival.

"There are two or three of them who've been to the nationals before and know how important it is, and have worked even harder to get back again for that experience."

Justin Amador of P.E.I. will compete in French horn, Mengjue Chen in piano, Andrea Corder in voice, Johanna Vessey in clarinet, and Judy Yun in violin. 

'Overjoyed for them'

Listening to other students play at the national level helps the students learn from one another, said Sharpe, and ajudicators provide feedback plus an opportunity to take a master class. 

"We're overjoyed for them and for us and for our festival, because we work hard," Sharpe said.

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"We put in lots of hours and lots of time and it's wonderful to see the kids responding, and that we're able to give them this opportunity."

It's an opportunity Vessey is looking forward to. Vessey took her first degree in music,and followed that with a degree in computer science. She is interested in taking a master's degree in performance, but said it is difficult to find opportunities to perform, and going to the national festival has other benefits.

"You don't just get to perform, you get feedback and you get to perform the same thing multiple times and get better each time," said, Vessey, who has arranged a special work schedule at her software development job so she can practice her clarinet every afternoon. 

"Music is what fuels me and makes me want to live my life," Vessey said.

"Music is my passion so it's what I try to make time for, and it's what really motivates me to get up in the morning."

'Such amazing artists'

Justin Amador has been to the national festival before. 

"It was kind of humbling to be surrounded by such amazing artists and musicians," he said.

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He just graduated from UPEI and said going to Saskatoon is one way to see what's next for his musical career.

Amador is proud to be part of the P.E.I. group heading to nationals.

"It kind of shows what a flourishing music community we have here and especially our music education community and the band programs," he said.

"It's a really good marker of how good the music community is here."

The young musicians plan to hold a fundraising performance July 28 at the Kirk of St. James in Charlottetown in support of their trip.

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