Silver Roots
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Silver Roots

New York City, New York, United States | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
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Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc (New York, NY)
March 2010

"Your ability to showcase virtuosic performance coupled with a palpable connection to your audience results in an absolutely riveting experience. I personally have learned so much about the cultures whose music you feature and the emotion with which each piece was composed. The audience response to each of your appearances has been tremendous! I would recommend your programs to anyone looking for an interesting, informative, and lively performance! I look forward to working with you many more times in the future!”

- Hillary McAndrew, Senior Manager, Meet the Artist & Community Programming

Embassy of Japan in Canada (Ottawa, ON)
September 2009

"I enjoyed today's music very, very much! The presentation by these three great musicians so successfully represents Japan today: not only beautiful, refined, exotic but also dynamic, inclusive, powerful and fresh."

- Ambassador Nishida, Japanese Ambassador to Canada

The Colonial Theater (Pittsfield, MA)
September 2010

“I was extremely impressed by the concert you presented. Your extraordinary musicianship was worth much more than the price of admission. What impressed me even more, as an experienced presenter of the performing arts, was your spot on sense of the right balance of content, spontaneity, charm, humor, scholarship, and technique. The net result was a concert that was entertaining, accessible, and artistically satisfying. You are superb musicians with a great sense for what pleases audiences.”

- Dave Fleming, President of Theater Strategic Services & Former Executive Director

Japan Foundation (Toronto, ON)
September 2009

“The performance by Silver Roots was met with great enthusiasm and praise from the audience. In fact, as soon as we began promoting the concert, reservations were fully booked within one day. They are talented musicians with a gift for blending cultures, genres and eras in a way that beautifully embodies cultural exchange.

- Masayuki Suzuki, Director

The Arts Center (Jamestown, ND)
February 2010

"Your ensemble’s professional training and musical virtuosity was more than entertaining. The audience especially enjoyed the “stump the musicians” segment. What a clever way to engage an audience and to showcase your abilities… everything from Riverdance fiddling and dance to jazz, Asian-inspired, pop and classical. We had several calls from people who were unable to attend but had heard about it and wanted to know when you would return. We look forward to that date.”

- Taylor Barnes, Director

Leisure Learning Music Series (Basking Ridge, NJ)
September 2010

“I loved the energy, the variety, and the wonderful simpatico relationship you convey in playing together. I could tell the audience loved it, too. After programming twenty years of 16 performances a year, I have a sense of that “you can hear a pin drop” attention. Your “spoken notes” and response to audience questions and requests also made your program so engaging.”

- Phyllis McGuinness, Program Coordinator

Madison Valley Public Library (Ennis, MT) February 2010

“Silver Roots was a major hit in Ennis MT. They drew a standing room only audience on a Wednesday night in February. Ennis is a small town and there were 100 folks who came to hear them (10% of the total population). The audience was most involved by a poetry contest that Shawn suggested in the weeks before the concert. Two winning poems were read by the winners and were spontaneously accompanied by Silver Roots. They were very popular; folks appreciate their musicality AND their wonderful rapport with the audience.”

- Lucy Ennis, Library Board Trustee

- Various


By Kristi Albertson
Saturday, August 28, 2010

For students learning to play an instrument, music can sometimes seem like little more than endless hours of practicing scales, learning specific pieces and performing those songs in concerts or recitals. The joy of playing can get lost in the monotony of rehearsal and routine. Maria Millar hopes to remind young musicians how much fun playing music can be.

“For me growing up, practicing was work. It wasn’t fun; it was kind of torture,” said Millar, a violinist and Juilliard School graduate. “I want to show the fun aspect of music.”

That’s what has brought Millar and fellow Juilliard alumni Shawn Wyckoff and Adrian Daurov, collectively known as Silver Roots, to the Flathead Valley this week. The trio are hosting workshops and master classes to help young musicians explore different aspects of music — and perhaps rekindle their love for it.

The idea of hosting the program began months ago, when Millar and Wyckoff first visited Kalispell. At the time, New York City-based Silver Roots was performing as a duo on a tour of 10 states and provinces. They contacted Flathead County Library Director Kim Crowley to find out if she’d be interested in hosting their violin and flute duo at the Kalispell library. “I said, ‘Sure, we’ll try something like that,’” Crowley said. When Millar and Wyckoff performed at the library in February, about 100 people attended, Crowley said. “That’s a big program for an adult program at the library.” Millar said she and Wyckoff were impressed with the Kalispell crowd, many of whom weren’t library regulars. “The audience was incredible,” she said. “We just really loved it here.”

She and Wyckoff talked with Crowley about bringing classical music programs to the Flathead Valley, something the library director thought would be good, Millar said. So when Silver Roots applied for a grant from Chamber Music America to do a chamber music residency, they knew exactly where they wanted to teach. “We thought Kalispell was perfect for it,” Millar said. The residency grant covers most of Silver Roots’ expenses during the five-day program, but the Flathead County Library System and First Best Place Task Force also have been instrumental in bringing the group, now a trio with Daurov’s cello, to the Flathead. “We got right on board with that because the program [in February] was so popular here,” Crowley said. First Best Place “got involved because we wanted to make this valleywide,” she said. The library already works often with the Columbia Falls group, she added, and hopes to one day move its Columbia Falls branch into the group’s Glacier Discovery Square. “Columbia Falls is just such a vibrant place right now, and they have a good venue for this type of work,” Crowley said.

Silver Roots’ program kicked off Thursday at Glacier Discovery Square with performances by the professional musicians. The 16 students participating in the program range in age from 10 to 16 and play a variety of instruments, including flute, violin, bassoon, guitar and clarinet. Most have been playing for years, Millar said; to be accepted into the program, Silver Roots asked that students have at least six months’ experience on their instruments. Some students have played as many as seven years, she said. “It seems like there’s a lot of opportunities that exist in the area to study instruments and play them in schools,” Millar said. “We can just build on that.”

The workshops are intended to broaden students’ appreciation for playing music beyond their typical experience, she said. Kids, especially those who play for school bands and orchestras, tend to have very set schedules and might not play beyond the pieces they learn for those groups. “We’re trying to explore outside of that — how to play with your pieces, create your own etudes, use your instrument to create your own curriculum,” Millar said.

On Friday, the students learned about improvisation. Today they’ll spend a couple of hours in the library researching information that relates to the pieces they’re learning in the program. They will share what they learn Monday on the final night of the program. That’s when the students will perform their pieces in a concert with Silver Roots at the Kalispell library. The show is free and begins at 7 p.m.

The concert will be the culmination of all they’ve learned over the last few days, Millar said. “What we want is that kids can learn to take leadership but also to accompany, to work together, speak in public — all of these things are just wonderful life skills,” she said. Those are the skills she hopes the kids will retain long after Silver Roots has returned home. Too many kids give up their instruments once they’re through high school and are no longer playing within a structured schedule, she said. “This kind of provides students with the tools to continue doing it on their own,” Millar said.

Reporter Kristi Albertson may be reached at 758-4438 or at kalbertson@dailyinterlake.com.

- Daily Inter Lake (Kalispell, MT)


By Machiko Ishihara
Friday, February 5, 2010

(Originally written in Japanese)

The silhouette of a single crane moves behind the cattails. Then another flies in the opposite direction. Sensing their presence, 5, 6 cranes gather; spreading their broad, white wings, they start to dance on water. As I take in the scene, the leader makes a signal and 1, 2, 3 cranes – powerful and elegant – take off from the water. A crane in Toronto!? No, it was a moving picture unfolding behind my eyes. But there was a crane… at the concert – Japan Meets World – that took place last fall at the Japan Foundation, Toronto.

What was so strange about the concert is that, although I can’t remember whether or not I’ve ever seen a real-life crane at a zoo, I was able to see it clear as day. Violinist/composer Maria Kaneko Millar’s composition Tsuru [The Crane] is of Canadian birth like she. Playing the violin as she dances, she skillfully maneuvers left and right-hand pizzicato to turn her violin into a koto and create a rare musical work.

The mastery of the performance was exquisite, but why did I see such vivid images? It’s like I entered a time machine, revisiting memories from infancy through the advent of adulthood. I guess these things really did happen. Japanese fables and folk tales, elaborately-illustrated sliding doors in shrines, temples and castles, hanging scrolls, Japanese art exhibitions, wedding mementos… the list goes on and on. For dozens of years, these images had unconsciously collected inside of me. They hadn’t moved till now, though. Moving pictures, unleashed from my subconscious self, now danced forth in Canada. Had I not accepted my friend’s invitation, had I not attended the concert, these images would’ve continued to sleep quietly within. As if struck by magic, I watched the violinist play, transfixed.

I figured the composer had spent long periods of time in Japan studying traditional Japanese music. Upon asking, however, I found out that [Maria] had only attended Japanese school and visited Japan during summer vacation. Though born in Edmonton, I am sure that from an early age, she was exposed to the essence of Japanese music in her home.

Reservations to attend the concert reached capacity immediately, and according to the presenter, looking out at the audience, one could count with 10 fingers the number of people of Japanese descent. The rest of the seats were filled with people of seemingly Western descent. I wonder what sentiment Tsuru evoked within them. Were they boggled by the technique that made the violin – a Western instrument – sound like a koto and shamisen? Did they see a crane? [Maria] created a new form of music with her performance style and unique technique. Beyond that, her youthful energy revealed the Japanese spirit and crane that quietly underlay the hustle of my life stretched between Japan and Canada.

Since graduating from Juilliard, [Maria] has actively performed abroad. Along with her fellow alumni, flutist Shawn Wyckoff (who performed at Carnegie Hall), they co-created Silver Roots and made New York City their base of operations. They performed a trio by Toshitsugu Ogihara that, according to Shawn, had never been recorded before. They had to have the score shipped from Japan, rushing to learn the work over a period of 3 days in time for their Toronto debut. The cellist, also from Juilliard, was specially invited for the performance; together, they became a single body of energy. The impact was huge.

I expect great things from [Maria], a musician who unites the spirit of Japan with the world. Until my next encounter, I will have to make do with the Canadian geese.

- Bits Lounge Magazine (Toronto, ON)


Discography

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Bio

Silver Roots lives in the continuum between classical & world music. Comprising Juilliard graduates Shawn Wyckoff, Maria Millar & Michael Haas, Silver Roots performs revolutionary, customized programs that draw from a mix of classical & world music, improvisation and ground-breaking original works. Communication is the driving force, whether through masterful execution and interpretation, conversations with the audience, sharing the history behind the music or even song & dance! By utilizing every part of the performer - the fingers, the mind, the voice and the story - Silver Roots redefines the concert-going experience.

Silver Roots' performance highlights include concerts for Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (NYC), The Cathedral of St. John the Divine (NYC), Embassy of Japan in Canada (Ottawa), Japan Foundation (Toronto), United Nations (NYC), Discovery Times Square Exposition (NYC), The Juilliard School (NYC) and University of Calgary. In 2010, Silver Roots embarked on a six-week tour of 10 states/provinces, presenting concerts and workshops in libraries, universities, concert halls, arts centers, even a bank! The tour connected with local communities in unique and non-traditional settings via Silver Stage, an initiative that encourages audiences to participate in concerts through storytelling, poetry writing, improvisation, roundtable discussions and musical requests. Most recently, Silver Roots was selected as 1 of 8 groups across the US to receive the 2010 Chamber Music America Residency Grant.