For most college-aged students studying music, hours pass quickly in classrooms, practice rooms and in numerous performance venues. For three students at Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, Ohio, winter break offered time for an opportunity to take their musical talents not only off-campus but also to another country. Ambitious BW undergrads Pablo Issa, cello, Amanda Stenroos, violin and Emily O’Shea, clarinet, took their talents to Bolivia over the 2010 holidays to play a tour of performances there.
The trio spent a month in Bolivia, first participating in the third annual Bach Fest in Cochabamba; a festival dedicated to Bach’s music that features several performances during the year. Issa and Stenroos joined the ensemble there and played Bach’s “Magnificat.” Also, they coordinated and performed two chamber music recitals, one in Cochabamba and the other in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. O’Shea joined in these performances, playing Brahms’ Clarinet Trio, and a Beethoven Piano trio. Accompanying the BW students was Bolivian pianist Elizabeth Schwimmer who founded the Bach Fest in Cochabamba.
Though not as intense as a professional performance schedule, this experience gave the students a taste of what is to come after they leave the halls of the conservatory. The students had some time to enjoy the Bolivian sights, but spent a notable amount of time practicing for their performances. Their hard work did not go unnoticed. The students were greeted by press in Bolivia like they were celebrities and the audiences were genuine and interested. Their chamber recitals were even so full that they left some audience members standing. “It was really gratifying to play for them,” commented Stenroos.
Stenroos is a junior at BW majoring in violin performance. She is the principal second violinist of the BW Symphony Orchestra. She studies under BW faculty Julian Ross. She is a 2008 graduate of Revere High School in Richfield, Ohio and the daughter of Jeffrey and Jennifer Stenroos.
Though the students fully enjoyed their receptive audiences, they confess that they were met with challenges along the way. O’Shea, when first playing her clarinet in Cochabamba, which is at an elevation of over 8300 feet, felt faint and almost passed out. After a few days she began to adjust to the difference that she did not anticipate.
O’Shea is a junior majoring in clarinet performance at BW and an active participant in the BW Symphony Orchestra, the BW Symphonic Wind Ensemble, and the Newman Student Organization. She is a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta and Dayton C. Miller Honor Societies. She studies with BW faculty Daniel McKelway. O’Shea is a 2008 graduate of Lassiter High School in Marietta, Georgia and the daughter of Tim and Angie O’Shea.
O’Shea and Stenroos were thankful for their fellow student, Issa, who is a native of Cochabamba. His connections there definitely alleviated some issues for the group. Issa toured Bolivia in 2008 with his BW faculty instructor, cellist Regina Mushabac. He is a senior majoring in cello performance at BW and a member of the BW Symphony Orchestra. He is a 2005 graduate of Bolivia’s Instituto Laredo and the son of Carlos Issa and Lucrecia Skaric.
Also contributing to the musical success of this venture were BW faculty Jason Aquila and Robert Mayerovitch.
Baldwin Wallace University, founded in 1845, was one of the first colleges to admit students without regard to race or gender. An independent, coeducational college of 4,500 students, BW offers coursework in the liberal arts tradition in more than 50 academic areas. Located in Berea, 12 miles from downtown Cleveland, BW offers students the cultural, educational and business advantages of a major metropolitan area.