Classical Katy Perry? Star Wars on Strings? Harry Potter and the Secrets of Chamber Music?
It all happened at the Prince Charles Theatre Feb. 23-25, when over 1,200 schoolchildren were entertained, energized and even educated by Infinitus, a critically acclaimed beatboxing trio known for its unique sound and upbeat performance style. The performances were open to students from Yahk to Crawford Bay, from which a teacher stated, “It was well worth the three hours of bus travel for the opportunity to attend.”
With a repertoire featuring classical standards and original jazz/hip-hop arrangements and compositions, Infinitus is quickly becoming one of North America’s premiere chamber groups.
Formed in 2008 by violist Anthony Cheung, cellist Alex Cheung and violinist John “Adidam” Littlejohn, collectively, the members of Infinitus hold degrees from the University of Michigan and the Peabody Conservatory and have won awards at the local, national, and international level.
Now based in Vancouver, the members are dedicated to quality outreach; Infinitus has performed extensively throughout North America presenting community performances, soloing with orchestras and conducting master classes, workshops and seminars. To date, they have performed over 700 outreach performances in nursing homes, juvenile detention centres, hospitals and schools as fortunate as those in the Creston Valley to share in what was described by one teacher as a “truly amazing experience” and an inspiration to “our budding musicians.”
Thanks to a grant from the BC Touring Council’s youth engagement program, applied for by Creston Concert Society, the members of Infinitus, through their spirited performance, were able to constructively introduce students to some of the basics of music. Encouraged to use their listening skills, the audience members were quizzed to identify the animals that were mentioned in a medley of popular songs like The Lion Sleeps Tonight; they also were instructed to find the story in music, such as birds, brooks and storms in Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, used to demonstrate how dynamics (volume) and the stroke of the bow enhances emotion. The members then asked for input at what the students felt during a lively reggae version of Khachaturian’s Sabre Dance.
By using recognizable and beloved pieces for children, the trio was able to present even more complicated ideas, such as themes (in this case Dora the Explorer) and variations, where Dora meets Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings characters in her adventures. These well known tunes were only a small part of the amazingly extensive repertoire of the ensemble, which includes contemporary favourites, such as Let It Go from the film Frozen and Pharrell Williams’ Happy, both of which got some in the audience to quietly sing along. These “classical” renditions enthralled the audiences.
“The musicians were excellent and they completely engaged the students’ attention,” according to one teacher.
Students in the audience thought it was “awesome” and “lots of fun” to participate in keeping the energy flowing, when they performed rhythmic pieces that included lots of clapping and some stamping, as well as conducting. The musicians were very receptive to the audience’s numerous enthusiastic questions and song requests. One of the teachers from the Wildflower commented, “One of my students liked it so much that she wanted their autographs.”
Infinitus’s final message was to encourage students to feed their minds and spirits positively, with good music; just like healthy food, it will help a person feel and consequently enhance their lives!
One teacher expressed the sentiment that seemed prevalent as well amongst the students: “We are so thankful to the concert society for providing this opportunity to Creston students.”
—CRESTON CONCERT SOCIETY