Student thrives with Woodland Park Arts Alliance

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Joyous, playful, passionate and soulful, the music of pianist Rebekah Crampton covers a range of emotions as her fingers dance over the keyboard. In a world premiere of “Impressions on Color” at the International Music Syndicate in Colorado Springs on Aug. 20, Crampton won rave reviews from her audience of 160 people.

Crampton, 13, a student at the Woodland Park Middle School, played the color “Yellow” in the seven-piece work by Kevin Olson, Ph.D., composer, pianist and professor at Utah State University.

In addition to the debut piece, Crampton performed her own composition “Journey to Hope,” and received a glowing critique from Olson. “She doesn’t hesitate to get to the outer realms of the keyboard,” Olson said. “She is letting harmony and harmonic progression drive the piece.”

Two years ago, Crampton received the first arts scholarship awarded by the Woodland Park Arts Alliance. “The scholarship has opened a lot of doors,” she said. “If I hadn’t had the scholarship I probably wouldn’t have met Abe or Phil,” she said.

“Abe” is Abram Minzer, pianist and professor of music at Pikes Peak Community College and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. The alliance funds Crampton’s lessons with the professor.

“Rebekah had some great training but I pushed her beyond where she was,” Minzer said. “Some kids are a little timid, play nice pretty music but I put her into some powerful music.”

As part of the push, Minzer introduced Crampton to “Orage” by Franz Liszt. “I gave that piece to her, not with the intention that she would perform it,” Minzer said.

Crampton balked, Minzer said. As a result, Crampton played the “Orage” at Minzer’s Classically Alive concert. As luck would have it, Lawrence Leighton Smith, former conductor of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, was among the listeners that evening. “Smith was impressed with her poise,” Minzer said.

“Phil” is Phil Erklen, president of the music syndicate and founder of the Children for Children Program, each of which offers Crampton the opportunity to study composition, studio recording and publishing.

As Crampton’s artistic skills expand, she is the inspiration behind the WPAA’s next fundraiser, a concert that features Steve Barta Sept. 6 at the Ute Pass Cultural Center in Woodland Park.

“The alliance showed me what they were doing. I felt that supporting such passion in a place like Woodland Park was extremely attractive,” Barta said. “I want to do what I can to support this honest effort by everyone. I’m following their lead in bringing my name and my music to this very strong effort.”

Barta was nominated for a Grammy Award last year in the Best Children’s Music category, for the album “Jumpin’ Jazz: A Swinging Jungle Tale,” produced by Barta and Mark Oblinger. Barta wrote the orchestral score.

Ralph Holloway, founder and chairman of the arts alliance, is credited with making a difference in the lives of Teller County students.

“For the past two years, the emphasis of the alliance has been geared toward our Scholarship Program,” Holloway said.

“Every person who has attended any WPAA program recently has played a significant role in developing and furthering the talents of those who have been the beneficiary of a WPAA scholarship, like Rebekah.”

In addition to the Barta fundraising concert, the alliance will hold the “Winter Wine and Microbrew Tasting” Oct. 11. The proceeds of both go to the alliance’s Scholarship Program.

For information or to buy tickets, call Seven Arrows Gallery at 719-761-1676.

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