SMI: What makes this program unique?
Travis: There are a number of unique things about the SMI. Most notably, it’s one of the only Canadian summer music programs that takes place in a major city (a beautiful and accessible one at that!), and the program works closely with a leading professional orchestra. While the focus of the program is undeniably chamber and solo music, there are always opportunities to go watch the National Arts Centre Orchestra and interact with orchestra members. Many of the spectacular SMI faculty members are from the orchestra, which makes having the program in Ottawa very special.
Having the program in a major city also helps bring the students closer to the realities of being a professional musician. Throughout the program there are opportunities to meet the donors and community members who make the SMI possible. These are the folks that come to the concerts, receptions, masterclasses, and other events, and I have always found it incredibly enlightening and valuable to have contact with these people: they have made so many of my dreams in music a reality through their philanthropy.
SMI: Do you have advice for students about making the most of their time here?
I've always had a great time at the SMI. This program is amazing because it gives everyone the opportunity to put as much into it as they want. No one is going to tell you when to get up in the morning, how long to practice, when to go to sleep, or what to eat. I recommend that when you go to the SMI, you work as hard as you possibly can, learn as much as you can, get to know your colleagues and have fun. It's about keeping a good balance.