Hilltop Chamber Music Festival brings talented young musicians to campus

Talented young string musicians gathered on the Hilltop last week for a whirlwind week of playing music and learning from some of the best local chamber musicians.

 “This is a great opportunity to use the beautiful Cornell College campus and bring more students and visitors to campus,” said Cornell College Visiting Artist John Schultz.

The very first Hilltop Chamber Music Festival unfolded June 13-17 in Armstrong Hall with Schultz leading the way and organizing the event. Schultz teaches violin at Cornell and is also the CEO of Schultz Strings, a business in Cedar Rapids.

Schultz and music professionals from around the area worked with nine student performers ranging in age from 13 to 19 for a week. Participants received four hours of daily coaching from professional artists and participated in masterclasses. Students learned a variety of complicated pieces throughout the week.

“The music performed ranges anywhere from jazz improv to pieces that were arranged by one of our faculty members–Andrew Steffen arranged a piece from video game music–to a late Mozart string quartet to a David Stone quartet,” Schultz said.

Students are expected to challenge one another and practice throughout the week to be their very best.

The final concert took place on Friday, June 17, at 4 p.m. in the Ringer Recital Studio.

Here’s a sample from the concert featuring video game music, which is written by Koji Kondo and arranged by Andrew Steffen. It includes Andrew Steffen on the viola (Hilltop Festival coach), Nic Singleton on the violin, and Leroy Karns on the cello.