ELY – Many years ago in a small town in east central Germany, a little girl named Chambriel Ridings was living on an Army base where her dad was stationed, and she struggled with math. To …
ELY – Many years ago in a small town in east central Germany, a little girl named Chambriel Ridings was living on an Army base where her dad was stationed, and she struggled with math. To bolster her math comprehension, her teacher suggested she take up the recorder – that simple flute-like instrument that kids here in America all seem to learn at some point in their elementary years.
Chambriel’s mother, Jackie Ridings, was eager to help her daughter but had no idea where to get a recorder in Germany, so she reached out to her mother-in-law back in the United States who mailed one overseas to her granddaughter in Grafenwöhr.
“It sounds strange, but it worked,” Jackie said. There was no way to know then, that this was the beginning of something amazing.
Flash forward to 2015 when the Army family was back from overseas and living in Ely. Chambriel’s fifth grade teacher, Darren Visser, noticed that Chambriel was still struggling with math. He encouraged her family to seek additional help outside of school, so that Chambriel could avoid a remedial study hall that would mean having to give up participating in band.
It was Miss Mason’s first year, and she encouraged Chambriel to try the clarinet. “I played Hot Cross Buns immediately,” recalls Chambriel. “I thought ‘Oh this is easy to figure out!’”
Chambriel continued playing the clarinet even as the family moved yet again, this time to Rolla, Missouri. Rolla’s band was large enough that Chambriel had to try out, but as soon as the band director heard her play the scales, she said, “Oh my God! I need you.”
Chambriel went on to make First Chair at Districts three times for clarinet and competed at the state level as well. While she’d never taken a private clarinet lesson, her skills were developing quickly. When the family later returned to Ely, Chambriel was reunited with her old music teacher, Miss Mason, who was preparing to move out of state herself. With Miss Mason’s encouragement and guidance, she auditioned for state competition at the end of her junior year and soon received notice that she’d made the cut just before Miss Mason left for graduate school in the state of Virginia.
Summer vacation came, and Chambriel was left with no music teacher and no high school principal to help her navigate just exactly how she was going to be able to perform at Concordia Moorhead College for the State Band Competition to be held Aug. 1-5.
This is where the village took charge. Washington Elementary principal Anne Oelke stepped in to oversee the district funding piece of the puzzle, while Miss Mason helped with paperwork over the phone and Mr. Kubiak (the new band teacher who technically didn’t start his new job until August) was in communication from where he was in Europe over the summer.
In early June, thanks to her state-qualifying ability, Chambriel was also asked to audition for the Honors Performance Series, an elite group “created to showcase accomplished individual student performers on an international level by allowing them to study under master conductors and perform in world renowned venues.”
In order to save $50 on the application fee for the Honors Performance Series, Chambriel had to submit her audition performance by July 5 to make the early bird deadline. Chambriel practiced nonstop to be ready, consuming much of the first half of her summer vacation. “I’d get off from work and go back to my clarinet,” she said. Chambriel was only able to meet with Mr. Kubiak, who’d just returned from Europe, once to get some final suggestions on how to improve for audition before she had to send it in. Mr. Kubiak gave her a few pointers, which she worked on, then recorded herself playing the Rose Etude #10, and sent it in.
The registration period did not officially close until Sept. 1 with applicants scheduled to receive notification if they’d made it to the next round on Oct. 28. In the meantime, Chambriel prepared for and performed at the state competition in early August. In September, she became the youngest member of the Mesabi Symphony Orchestra (MSO). On Oct. 28, the day she and her family had eagerly awaited for news, Chambriel was busy in a dress rehearsal for an upcoming MSO performance. It turned out to be a day she’ll long remember.
At 4 p.m., Jackie received the email that Chambriel had made it to the next round and would be notified within 10-15 business days. Instead of taking days, however, the news arrived just four hours later that Chambriel had been selected to perform at Carnegie Hall. Just a minute or two later, another email arrived, announcing she’d been selected to perform, as well, at the Sydney Opera House in Australia.
Chambriel’s audition was in competition with ten thousand other submitted pieces for each performance. According to Marion Gomez, Music Director for the Honors Performance Series “Being selected to the Honors Performance Series is something each finalist should be extremely proud of accomplishing.” Gomez notes. “We processed nearly 10,000 nominations this year and have selected the most talented student performers from around the world.”
Chambriel said she could hardly believe it when she got the news. “I’m extremely excited to participate. It’s a dream come true.”
It’s a dream, however, that comes with a hefty price tag and the family, with help from Ely English teacher Heather Cavalier, is again reaching out to the community for help, through a request for donations and a Go Fund Me page.
Chambriel will represent Ely when she joins (according to the press release) “roughly 500 other performers from 48 U.S. states, Bermuda, Canada, China, and South Korea for a special performance at the world-famous Carnegie Hall and Sydney Opera House, both venues that mark the pinnacle of musical achievement. The finalists will come together in New York and Sydney, where they will have the opportunity to learn from world-renowned conductors, work with other performers, and get a taste of New York and Sydney. The Honors Performance will take place Feb. 1-5, 2023, at Carnegie Hall and Aug. 1-5, 2023, at the Sydney Opera House, and both are open to the public.”
The cost of the New York trip is approximately $5,500, including airfare and travel expenses. Chambriel is raising money to make this once-in-a-lifetime experience possible. Anyone interested in contributing a donation towards this once-in-a-lifetime achievement may do so by stopping by Frandsen Bank to donate to “Chambriel Ridings,” or sending a check to Honors Performance Series in Chambriel Ridings’ name to the Ely School’s address: 600 E Harvey, Ely, MN 55731, or online at Chambriel’s Go Fund Me page: https://gofund.me/f1861e70.
If interested, learn more about the program by visiting the website at www.honorsperformance.org.
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