The Ottawa Suzuki Institute Mid-Southwest, also known as Ottawa Suzuki Strings, marks its 40th anniversary this year and will be celebrating during its summer music events, “Absolutely Ottawa!”
“We are going to be having a lot of cake and balloons and a birthday celebration,” Lewis, said laughing, “A lot of concertizing is very typical of what we normally do. We have expanded over those 40 years to include four different programs (Sound Encounters, Ottawa Suzuki Institute, the French Connection and Brian Lewis Young Artist Program).”
The Suzuki method of instruction was founded by Shinichi Suzuki in Japan and teaches students to learn to play by tone first, notes second, according to Herald archives. Those different programs will feature several string instrument students attending classes and events at Ottawa University throughout June and into July, as well as hosting several performances. All performances during “Absolutely Ottawa!” are free of charge, Lewis said.
A birthday celebration is set for 7 p.m. June 15 at Ottawa University’s Fredrikson Chapel, 1001 S. Main St., Ottawa, Lewis said.
“We are sort of going to have a special event,” she said. “We will be introducing faculty and special guests. We are going to have a very informal, but very fun concert and reminiscence play-in where all of the students who attend the institute can get out their instruments and come and play, followed by birthday cake because this is our 40th anniversary of the founding. So, we’d like to have as many town people as possible come to everything, but that would be cool to celebrate our birthday with us, and we are going to have plenty of birthday cake. It won’t be long, but it will be a fun concert.”
The Carnegie Cultural Center 501 S. Main St., Ottawa, will play host to Brian Lewis on violin and Laura Kennedy on piano 7 p.m. Saturday.
“An interesting fact about them is she lives in Connecticut and he teaches in UT [Texas] of Austin and they still tour a lot together,” Lewis said. “She started playing for him when they were in high school. She used to live in Wichita, so they have a long, long standing [performance record together]. They recently recorded a CD that should be out before too long.”
“One of the fun things on that concert is we have a piece for piano 10 hands,” Lewis said. “So we have five of our collaborative pianists who are playing a piece together at the same piano, so that should be a sight to behold.”
The local Suzuki Strings, who have been invited to play at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, also have several concerts planned from June 16-20.
There are about 100 students involved in Suzuki Strings, about 60 in Sound Encounters, 25 in French Connection and 20 faculty, Lewis said.