March 2, 2002 – Outreach into the community is what the St. John School of the Arts has always been about, but for the next two weeks, it will be so even more than usual.
This week, the not-for-profit Cruz Bay school has two artists-in-residence — blues musician and band leader Corky Siegel and drummer Frank Donaldson, who is a member of Corky Siegel's Chamber Blues.
Next week, the arts school will be hosting the visit of Steven Lipman, assistant vice president for student enrollment at the Berklee School of Music in Boston.
All three visitors will be going into schools on St. Thomas and St. John to make presentations. Siegel and Donaldson will be conducting master classes and workshops, as well as dropping by night-time venues on St. John to critique live music at the invitation of the musicians. Lipman will be talking to students about higher education opportunities to pursue music studies — "for a career, or just … for personal pleasure," School of the Arts director Ruth "Sis" Frank said.
Siegel, who plays piano and harmonica and sings, and Donaldson have visited St. Thomas and St. John before as concert performers — both of them with Chamber Blues and Siegel also with the Siegel-Schwall Blues Band. They will give a public performance this time, too, as a duo, on Thursday night at the school.
Siegel co-founded the blues band with Schwall in the 1960s; he formed Chamber Blues in the 1980s, composing "classical blues" music for the unique chamber ensemble to play. Both nationally acclaimed groups remain much in demand for concerts today.
Donaldson, the Chamber Blues percussionist, was the drummer for 11 years with the Ramsey Lewis Trio. In addition to performing with Chamber Blues, he tours with the Chicago Jazz Ensemble and his own jazz group.
Lipman's visit also has a second purpose, Frank said. She would like to see the Berklee School "set up one of its satellite programs here out of the St. John School of the Arts. They have them all over the world, including Puerto Rico. He's coming here to investigate the possibility of doing that."
A satellite program would bring 10-day or two-week programs to the school each year that would be taught by Berklee faculty members, offering study in "instrumentals and vocals, for students and adults," she said.
Over the years, Berklee has been the professional training ground for a number of Virgin Islands music students who gone on to professional careers, including Reuben Rogers, Amin Gumbs, Rashawn Ross, Reginald Cyntje and Rudy Wells, the president of the St. John School of the Arts.
Frank said Siegel and Donaldson will visit La Tapa restaurant in Cruz Bay Monday night, then meet at the School of the Arts on Tuesday first with the Coral Bay School student body and then with band members and other interested students from Julius E. Sprauve School. On Wednesday afternoon, they will present a lecture and performance at Ivanna Eudora Kean High School at the invitation of music teachers Jo-Sandra James and Levy Farrell.
For their school visits, Donaldson "has invented a wonderful sticking technique that he's going to demonstrate while he's talking with the drummers, and Corky will be talking to everybody else," Frank said. Their lecture-demonstration presentations will be about "the joy of music — how to sing better, how to play better, how to do wonderful things and have a wonderful time doing it," she said.
Thursday's School of the Arts performance is at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 for general admission and $20 for students, available at the door, with no advance sales.
Lipman is someone Frank has known for many years. "I saw him in New York last fall and said 'Will you come down?' and he said 'Sure,'" she related. "Warren Hendrickson on St. Thomas, whose son, DeShawn, is a student at Berklee now, and Rudy Wells will be taking him around to the schools."
They'll go to Charlotte Amalie High School on March 11 to meet with students of band director Georgia Francis and others interested in pursuing music careers. On March 13, they'll visit Eudora Kean, and they'll have other meetings with students on St. John. Frank said she is hoping visits also can be arranged to other schools at the invitation of their music departments.
For additional information about the Siegel-Donaldson residency or about Lipman's visit, call the School of the Arts at 779-4322 or Frank at 776-6777.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here