Founded 16 years ago as an effort to teach students to hear, listen and react intensely with musical performances, the Family & Friends Duet Recital will host its annual event on Feb. 18 at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in Cumberland.
The recital was founded by Harlan music instructor Clara Atkins-Pope, owner of The Studio of Piano Fine Arts in Harlan, which is sponsoring the recital.
"All musicians must perform regularly with other musicians," Atkins-Pope said. "It is the oil that lubricates the musical mind and the pitch pipe that tunes the musical ear. We have all ages and stages of musicians performing in this recital, and it is one of my favorite events of our studio year."
Among other adult musicians who will be performing are the studio's associate teachers, Lisa Abraham Trapp and Justin Taylor.
"Lisa and Justin have been wonderful additions to our studio," Atkins-Pope said. "Lisa has been known as an excellent pianist since her high school days. She studied with Steely Veach in her early years and served as accompanist for the Harlan Musettes."
Trapp now operates a Kindermusik studio in Harlan. Kindermusik, Atkins-Pope said, "is a wonderful developmental program which seeks to expose infants, toddlers and young children to the basic concepts of music."
Atkins-Pope said she and Trapp will perform Claude Bolling's "Roccoco," a work that combines classical and jazz techniques.
Taylor, she said, wrote several of the musical works performed in "Higher Ground," making his debut performance on the fiddle, along with members of the band Pine Mountain Grass.
Other musicians who will participate in the jazz ensemble work include Greg Hollins on drums and Michael Bianchi on string bass.
"Greg has been a great addition to our recital in the past several years. His wife, Laurie, will also perform along with their children, Zachary and Leah. It is for musical families like the Hollins that the recital is designed. The more opportunities children have to play music together or with other members of their families, the more fun and progress they will make in their formal studies," Atkins-Pope said.
In addition to the instructors at the studio, apprenticed teachers Jaid Ragg, Jenna Noe and Victoria Smith will present young students in concert. The studio began the Apprenticed Teachers Program in 1996, and to date, six apprenticed teachers have graduated from the program. Among these graduated students, several have gone on to receive musical scholarships in college.
"A good musical education in the early years and in high school can really help with funding future education. I am very pleased that our studio has given our graduates firm and solid musical training. I believe this is reflected in the scholarship figures our students have received," Atkins-Pope said.
Since its founding, the Apprenticed Teachers Program has grown into a certification program supported by the studio. Students who enter the certification program can become certified in the studio curriculum to teach, beginning through intermediate and advanced students. Plans are being pursued to offer this program beyond the bounds of Harlan County, Atkins-Pope said.
"In September, we opened a studio branch called The Music Box in Leslie County. I was approached by members of the Grassy Branch community concerned about the lack of musical training available for their young children. I have worked with members of The Upper Grassy Branch Pentecostal Church to establish a small studio, and with the support of community residents, the studio is becoming stable and making progress.
"It takes an entire community to provide opportunities for our children, and this example of community concern and dedication is very impressive to me," she said.
Another program founded by the studio is the Pleasant Mountains Music Festival. Held early in May, the festival invites college/university music professors and performers to Harlan to work with students for a day. This year's festival is scheduled for May 12 and 13. Friday evening, Atkins-Pope said, will feature a dinner and concert presentation of works by George Frederick Handel.
"We hope to have a double manual harpsichord, a classical harp and a variety of other interesting musicians from nearby colleges and universities," Atkins-Pope said.
The Studio of Piano Fine Arts is currently accepting students for piano, violin, guitar and Celtic harp lessons. Interested persons should call the studio at 573-4994.
Admission price for the 16th annual Family & Friends Duet Recital is $5 for adults. There is no charge for children. The performances are scheduled for 2 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.