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Pianist Catherine Douglas, Baritone David Hodson, Flutist Deb Veit, Flutist Joanne Freeman, and Tenor/Guitarist Jordan Covert. Laura Austin Photo

Music Across the Ages with HDMTA Annual Concert

By LAURA QUEZADA News Review Staff Writer

The High Desert Music Teacher Association (HDMTA) presents its Annual Museum Concert in two performances, Saturday, January 27, at 6 pm and Sunday, January 28, at 2 pm. The concert benefits the Museum as well as HDMTA’s programs. Tickets are available at the museum or online at maturango.org. Adults are $20, and kids under 12 are $5.00.

This year’s concert theme is “Music Across the Ages.” Their intent to feature female composers wherever possible is not reflected in the title. The audience will be treated to Pianist Catherine Douglas, Flutist Deb Veit, Flutist Joanne Freeman, Baritone David Hodson, and Tenor/Guitarist Jordan Covert. Stephanie McManus is the association’s Impresario and will introduce each piece.

Douglas humbly says, “I am retired. I show up because they need somebody to play piano. I’ll be playing three solos, and then I’ll be accompanying everybody else.” Two of her three solos will be from female composers. “A sonata by Maria Park, a romance by Clara Schuman, and ending with a Chopin scherzo.” When we spoke to Douglas in December 2021, she told us. “I started playing piano when I was nine, which is a little older than many, and I have a Bachelor of Music Degree and a Master of Music Degree in Applied Piano. I taught at Cerro Coso for several years. I also taught privately for many years, and after my husband retired, I retired.” The centerpiece of her music studio is “a 1915 Steinway. My father bought it for me in 1960, and I’ve hauled it back and forth across the country three or four times. It’s my pride and joy; it’s a wonderful instrument to play on.”

Veit, HDMTA Historian, will perform a flute solo and a duet with Freeman. Veit will perform Sérénade aux étoiles (Serenade under the Stars) by Cécile Chaminade. “It is a lovely piece, especially with the piano.  I like it a lot,” says Veit. “You know, I’ve done one other work by her that took me ten years to master starting in high school, and finally, after graduate school, I felt like I could play it like it should be played.” Veit has been playing the flute for 57 years. Picking the flute was a family thing, “There were four girls. The first one was clarinet. The second one was the flute. The third one was clarinet.” As the fourth child, Veit was assigned the flute. Her heart desired to play the bassoon in high school, but they gave it to a saxophone player. Nevertheless, she devoted herself to the flute and could be heard throughout her high school campus, practicing wherever she could find a place when the music room was not available.

Freeman is a guest artist and, with Veit, will perform two duets from “Tales of Old” by Herman Beeftink. Freeman says, “It was a challenge to find music by women composers when that was originally the theme. So we branched out, and it’s a composer that I  favor, and it’s a Celtic feel. They’re beautiful.“ Freeman started playing the flute in elementary school. “I fell in love with the sound, and I had a band director who was a flutist, and I had the opportunity to study with her. Living near a major university greatly influenced me because I lived in Lansing, Michigan, and Michigan State University was very close. I also had the opportunity to study there when I was in high school.”

Hodson, HDMTA Secretary, will be performing several opera arias, including one from The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart, two from Rigoletto by Verde, Il Tabarro from Puccini, and a song written by Veit, “A Beautiful Home.” These songs are from his repertoire, which he says are fun for him and his audiences. “I sang as a little kid, you know, just unconsciously. My dad always played classical stations.” He would sing arias. “I didn’t know they were hard. They were fun. Then I became a teenager and was still singing in the choir, but it became harder to sing all of a sudden because, through puberty, my voice changed, and I didn’t have any instruction. So I kept singing, and I picked up some terrible habits.  I sang in the theater. I studied acting at school in Texas. I moved to Ridgecrest and was in several CLOTA shows.” Lin Hartzell introduced him to his current teacher, Gabriel Reolo Pazos. “He’s a fantastic teacher, and I’m still studying with him. I’m still growing as a singer.”

Covert, the HDMTA President, is working on three pieces for the concert. He is hoping to bring to the stage an original composition to play with cellist Laura Bollinger. “I have a guitar piece that I like from Emilia Giulani-Gugliemi, who is from the first half of the 19th century. It’s got some fun arpeggios, and it’s got some fun key transposition, so it’s going to be fun. I’m also working on a Hildegard von Bingen vocal piece.”

At this point, everyone agrees that von Bingen (1098 – 17 September 1179) was a Superhero. A quick internet search finds, “She founded her own abbey, created her own language, and wrote one of the first musical plays. She was a wonderful composer who set her own lushly poetic texts.” Covert continues, “I am also working on a composition by my wife (Britta Covert), which she wrote in college called Bad Analogies of the Internet; she wrote a set of art songs based on weird student analogies of internet memes. I hope I’m citing her correctly. But it’s very silly. It doesn’t mean much of anything at all. Just a fun composition.” We spoke to Covert in April 2022. He said, “I became interested in music long before I was very good at it. As early as 10 to 13 years old, I thought it would be really fun to make music with other people. I tried several times, unsuccessfully, in my teenage and young adult years to start bands.  I dabbled a lot, self-taught, because I stopped public school in sixth grade. I never got into school orchestras when I was in grade school. So it was a little bit of a delayed journey for me.” This did not stop his musical journey. He studied on his own and took classes at Cerro Coso “before the music program dwindled.”

He transferred to  Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. “They are not widely renowned for their music program per se, but their music program is very good.” He balanced general education (GE) with music, then relegated GE to summer and spent the full semesters fully immersed in music. Upon returning to Ridgecrest, he was able to get involved in musical productions. A highlight was being Music Director for Secret Garden.” Now Covert and his wife own Moe’s Music; he leads a jazz big band called Blue Creosote, is the musical director of Christ the King Anglican Church, teaches with Music Together, and teaches private lessons.

HDMTA was formed in 1962. Covert tells us, “We’re a collection of music teachers that share resources. One of the things that we do for each other is set up recitals periodically throughout the year for our students. We have one day out of the year where we have a recital for the teachers, and that’s what this concert is.”

Hodson adds, “I think the main point of the teacher’s concert is to reassure the parents or the people sending you their students to show that you have the chops and you can take them to a satisfactory level as a teacher. This is a chance for us to say, ‘Hey, we’re professional caliber.’”

Douglas says, “Our whole purpose is teaching, not just children, adults, anyone that wants lessons.” Veit adds, “We are a resource for other teachers, and I think we need to draw more teachers in from the community if there are those out there that aren’t members because we have great recital options. If you only have five students, having a recital is hard, but if you put them in with our group, you will have a full recital and a nice hall.” Douglas continues, “We invite people in the community who are teaching and not members to join.” To join, visit their website at hdmta.org.