The auditorium at the Holy Heart High School in St. John’s, Newfoundland was packed. Children from all over the city were brought in by school bus for a performance that had people literally square dancing in the aisles of the Theatre.
This is a school that is nationally known for its music programme and as so often is the case, it is a single teacher that makes a difference.
Grant Etchegary teaches Music at Holy Heart, his wife Vincenza is a music teacher also. Both have propelled many successful music careers in this community. On Monday, November 14, they were applauding their former student and Holy Heart grad, Sean Rice.
“I got to know him when he was in Grade Four,” Grant Etchegary said. “Both myself and my wife recognized he was a special talent. Even at that age he had a voracious work ethic. He excelled very quickly in the clarinet.”
For Sean Rice, the concert was like coming full circle. In 2002, when the National Arts Centre Orchestra was touring Atlantic Canada he was a 19 year old Music student at Memorial University. He was invited to perform as a soloist at a student matinee at his high school. He so impressed other musicians from the NAC that he began studying with Principal Clarinet Kimball Sykes at the NAC’s Summer Music Institute in 2005 and 2006.
So when Sean Rice got up and performed once again at the school on Monday, the audience cheered.
“One of the things I think the Orchestra does well is the educational outreach that is planned and programmed for each city. I find that incredibly important because my own career is a product of that,” said Sean Rice after the concert.
So there were hugs from friends and family. A real homecoming for a great musician from Newfoundland. And who knows, maybe one of the hundreds of school children who performed, danced, and laughed during the concert will find inspiration to follow in Sean Rice’s footsteps.
That’s the hope of Music Teacher Grant Etchegary. “I thought it was important that Canada’s National Orchestra come into the schools to connect with kids in this venue. I am so pleased that the NAC decided to come.”