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Flagler College music program partners with St. Augustine Music Festival to enhance student music education

Oct 7, 2022
by Amanda Bentham

Early in 2020, the Executive Director of the St. Augustine Music Festival Board, Bill Boxer, reached out to the Director of Music and Musical Theater at Flagler College, Kip Taisey, to begin discussing creative avenues for collaboration.

The duo had numerous ideas for partnership in initial talks, but they eventually brainstormed the new "Sundays with SAMF Series." This series welcomes guest performers from the St. Augustine Music Festival to play for the College’s music students, increasing the students’ exposure to classical and chamber music.

"This partnership will enhance the education of our music students and differentiate our program from others,” Taisey said. 

Flagler’s music program focuses on voice and piano, so students don’t usually have the opportunity for educational exposure to the instruments and expertise SAMF musicians can provide.

"A partnership with SAMF will let us have professional musician-educators on site who will work with our students and expose them to a high level of musicianship, creating unique performance and training opportunities,” Taisey said.

More than 10 years ago, the SAMF was “conceived as a free chamber music concert series to celebrate the rich artistic and cultural traditions of St. Augustine.” Most of the SAMF Chamber Orchestra concerts are performed in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine, just a block from Flagler’s campus. Each summer, SAMF hosts a concert series with about six performances, you can check out the summer 2022 series program here.

The first “Sunday with SAMF” was held just last month on Sep. 25 with the support of a grant from the Benjamin and Jean Troemel Foundation. The concert opened with an educational talk by Vice President and Artistic Administrator of Jacksonville Symphony, Tony Nickle, on “how to listen” to classical music and what to keep an ear out for.

SAMF guest performers, violist Jorge Pena, violinist Piotr Szewczyk, and cellist Brian Magnus, performed an original piece by Piotr Szewczyk with Keith Teepen, Tom Kenan assistant professor of piano at Flagler, and a three-movement piano quartet by Mozart.

But Boxer, executive director of SAMF and active member of the Visual and Performing Arts Advisory Board for the College, said this was just the beginning of the “Sundays with SAMF” series. It's a series that speaks to the advisory board's mission to strengthen community partnerships and create learning opportunities for students.

"We'd like to have two or three more Sundays with SAMF concerts to build upon this successful first one and for the student to attend and engage in SAMF 2023," Boxer said. "This brings a younger demographic to SAMF and provides the students with, ‘the SAMF experience,’ while enriching their music education."

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