There are powerful moments in a person’s life that are sometimes referred to as “Aha Moments”. Mark Beaty, Principal Double Bass of the Vancouver Island Symphony, first felt the true power of symphonic music during a rehearsal with the BC Youth Orchestra at Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver. They were playing the theme from Superman, by John Williams. “It was almost an out of body experience and most definitely an Aha Moment” Mark recalled of that day back when he was in Grade 12. “I couldn’t believe this group of secondary school kids were playing this music! It sounded so exciting and all-encompassing.”
“I love all forms of music, but amplified music is coming at you from a speaker, and it’s different than when 50 people are playing together creating the sound acoustically. People in the audience experience that lush sound and feeling, and being in the middle of it as a musician is amazing. Of all the different kinds of music I play, symphonic music is one of my most beloved.”
Also beloved for Mark is Nanaimo. “There’s a presence, an artistic and musical buzz in the downtown core when the symphony is in town.” Mark lives in Vancouver, but like all of the members of the orchestra that don’t live in Nanaimo, he will spend up to a week of every month in the Harbour City. “The musicians that come from Victoria and Vancouver do have this connection to Nanaimo, and it comes from the relationship that the musicians have with the audience and the community." For many of those musicians, a big part of that community, and one of the most enjoyable parts is the connection to youth."
In addition to holding the position of Principal Bass of the Vancouver Island Symphony, Mark is the VIS Education & Outreach Manager as well as the Personnel Manager. He’s looking forward to engaging with kids in School District 68 and 71 in the upcoming season. The Symphony’s Education Program makes it possible for every Grade 4 student in the district to experience the Symphony at least once, while they are in school.
“It’s this magical age with music where children still have that sort of wonder and awe, but they’re also at the age where they can start to see themselves as music makers. They can see themselves in those roles, and they have great imaginations and a really good sense of humour.”
Many children aren’t exposed to orchestral music at home, and while they often know a lot of the pieces through popular movies, television programs and even video games, they have never experienced it live In a theatre. “We absolutely know that there are many kids who have music at home and are benefiting from all that music brings into their lives, but I see the work that the symphony does in schools and in the community as a chance to level the playing field, and make it possible for all students of all backgrounds to experience music. We are very proud that no child is left behind in the VIS Music Education Program.”
One of Mark’s favourite parts of the Symphony’s Integrated Music Education Program is the school visits. He gets to interact with the kids one-on-one, show them how the instruments work and it’s a bonus that the teachers usually comment on how well behaved the kids were during his presentation.
“They’re so engaged,” Mark says. “I can see their faces light up. They get to see the musicians as human beings, not on YouTube or other media. In person, they can see the potential that is out there for themselves because of the human interaction.” He likes too, that when the students come to the education show soon after, they call the musicians names out from the audience and wave with big smiles on their faces. “I believe the Symphony should support a strong music program within the schools and we see ourselves as a community partner in enabling a thriving music program.”
Mark is the featured speaker at the first Women of Note Event on November 1 at the Nanaimo Museum, 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. If you would like to hear more about the Symphony's Youth Engagement Program - women are invited to join other women who believe that arts & culture are important in our community.