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Bob Keyes

Bob Keyes has written about the arts in Maine since 2002. He’s never been much an artist himself, other than singing in junior high school chorus and acting in a few musicals. But he’s attended museums, theaters, clubs and concert halls all his life, and cites Bob Dylan as most influential artist of any kind since Picasso. He lives in Berwick.

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Posted: September 18, 2017

Students from Maine and from away join DaPonte String Quartet for a weekend of making music

Written by: Bob Keyes
The DaPonte String Quartet is, from left, Kirsten Monke, Myles Jordan, Ferdinand Liva and Lydia Forbes. Photo by Pierce Studio/Courtesy of DaPonte String Quartet

The DaPonte String Quartet is, from left, Kirsten Monke, Myles Jordan, Ferdinand Liva and Lydia Forbes.
Photo by Pierce Studio/Courtesy of DaPonte String Quartet

The DaPonte String Quartet continues a 15-year tradition this weekend of inviting talented high school students from Maine to perform with the quartet. This year, the DaPonte also is bringing music students from out of state to Maine to share the experience.

The Bridge Project will enable 20 students to practice with the DaPonte through the weekend and perform a public concert on Sunday afternoon at KieveWavus Camp in Jefferson. The Sunday performance dovetails with the DaPonte’s annual fundraising event, FanFare, which includes music, food and an auction.

The idea of expanding the youth program to include out-of-state students was hatched at FanFare last year, when the quartet suggested it to supporters and raised $9,000 on the spot. In addition to 16 students from Maine, the DaPonte will work with three students from the Duke Ellington School for Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., and a fourth student from Philadelphia. They will fly to Maine on Friday, practice all weekend and perform on Sunday afternoon.

Kirsten Monke, the DaPonte’s violist, has long advocated for out-of-state students to join the Maine kids for the weekend as a musical and cultural exchange of sorts. She based her advocacy on her own experience as a Maine teenager attending an American String Teachers Association camp in Orono that included many kids from New York. “They had funny accents, wore really cool clothes and knew about pop music that I’d never heard of,” she said. “Additionally, they were really into playing classical music. It was an eye-opener for me, realizing that there were kids all over that liked what I liked, and it also gave me a vicarious sense of life in the big city, and I made lifelong friends.”

Ferdinand Liva, a violinist in the quartet, said the weekend provides concentrated training for students and a chance for them to talk with professional musicians about performance and technique, the lifestyle of a professional musician and careers in music. After the students arrive at the camp on Friday, the weekend is divided into a series of workshops and rehearsals. Lodging and meals are provided, so students only have to focus on making music, Liva said.

“It’s an intense weekend,” Liva said. “It’s very isolating, which is the best part of it. You have nothing else to do but this.”

Sara Wasdahl, a 17-year-old violin player from Portland and Waynflete School senior, has participated in the DaPonte high school workshop twice and says she “learns a ton” during every coaching session of the weekend. (DaPonte cellist) Myles Jordan is like a walking encyclopedia. I love to ask him questions about anything music-related because he always has so much to say. On Saturday night at the workshop, we always do a sight-reading session altogether, which is always fun. This year we’re reading Mendelssohn’s Octet, which is one of my favorite pieces.”

Wasdahl has been playing 11 years and hopes to study music in college. She has performed with several orchestras, attends chamber music workshops regularly and plays in a quartet through the Portland Conservatory of Music. This past summer, she studied at the Bowdoin International Music Festival in Brunswick.

Applicants audition via video.

The Bridge Project name refers to the inroads the quartet makes with musicians and communities across Maine – and now, elsewhere.

DaPonte String Quartet’s FanFare

WHEN: 3 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Jewell Lodge, Camp Kieve-Wavus, 88 Wavus Point Road, Jefferson
TICKETS & INFO: $50; 529-4555,

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