Farmington Musicale celebrates a half-century of music


Farmington Hills native Bill Baxtresser, a Chicago based soloist and chamber musician, will be among the featured performers as The Farmington Musicale celebrates its 50th anniversary April 17, 3 p.m., at Nardin Park Methodist Church in Farmington Hills.

Bill Baxtresser
Bill Baxtresser (contributed photo)

Baxtresser, a trumpet player, and featured vocalist Christine Masell, a North Farmington High alumna, are both former winners of the Musicale’s Awards for Musical Excellence, an annual competition for local students musicians. Also performing will be 11-year-old pianist Naomi Yamaguchi, a sixth grader at West Middle School in Rochester Hills, and the Trombone Ensemble from the Farmington Community Band.

A Farmington High School graduate, Baxtresser was also a member of the Farmington Community Band. He graduated in 2007 from Western Michigan University with a Bachelor’s degree in trumpet performance and attended Oberlin Baroque performance institute.  He was honored as the Detroit Artist of the Year from Tuesday Musicale in 2013.

Baxstresser plays in Gaudete Brass, a chamber group, and he performs in the trumpet section of the West Michigan Symphony at Roosevelt University.  He teaches at the Music Institute of Chicago and has led masterclasses at Juilliard School of Music, Eastman School of Music, and the University of Michigan.

Naomi Yamaguchi
Naomi Yamaguchi (contributed photo)

Yamaguchi began her piano studies at age four and has won numerous awards, including the San Jose International Piano Competition, 1st place in Michigan Music Teachers Association Concerto Competition, twice as the youngest contestant, 1st place in the Chopin Youth Competition, 1st place in the Metropolitan Detroit Musicians League Competition, and 1st place in the National Federation of Music Club’s composition competition.

In 2011, at the age of seven, Yamaguchi made her Carnegie Hall debut, playing twice in one week.  She made her orchestral debut playing Mozart Piano Concerto K488 in A Major at the age of nine and has performed at The Detroit Institute of Arts Friday Night Live in 2014 and 2015.  She will return to play at the DIA in May of 2016. The youngest pianist to receive the Doreen Wessell Taylor Piano Award from Tuesday Musicale of Detroit and The Cranbrook Music Guild Betty Brewster Scholar Award, she has been selected annually since 2013 for the James Tatum Foundation’s Millennium Prodigy Scholars, which features performances including an appearance at Orchestra Hall of Detroit.

Christine Masell
Christine Masell (contributed photo)

Masell, a Farmington Hills native, will graduate in May from the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre and Dance with a Bachelors of Musical Arts in Voice Performance. She is a member of the University Choir directed by Dr. Eugene Rogers, and recently traveled with the choir to Lisbon and Portugal to perform in the Lisbon Choral Festival.

The Farmington Community Band Trombone Ensemble is under the direction of Randy Barber.  A native of Farmington Hills, he attended Harrison High School and holds a Bachelor of Music Education from Central Michigan University.  He has been a member of the Farmington Community Concert Band for over 15 years and directs the Jazz/Big Band. Members of the Trombone Ensemble are Travis Cook, Shaun Hoffman, Larry James, Norman Logan, Alec Londal, David Londal, Lauren Westerby, Jonah Yamine, and Peter Zubulake.

The April 17 concert at Nardin Park Methodist Church, 29887 W. 11 Mile Rd., is free and open to the public. A reception will follow.

Trombone Ensemble, Farmington Community Band
Farmington Community Band Trombone Ensemble (contributed photo)
Musicale has a history of concerts, competition, community involvement

The Farmington Musicale began in 1965 with first President Irene Winnie.  By May 1966, the group was affiliated with the Michigan Federation of Music Clubs and the National Federation of Music Clubs.  The first program, an organ recital, was held at Nardin Park Methodist Church. From the beginning the Musicale began fundraising to offer a competition for music students, first held in 1968. Awards for Musical Excellence offered prizes to students from grades 7-12 in instrumental, piano, and vocal music.  The current Awards chairman is Marla Smith.  Past chairmen are Susie Hensoldt, Mary Behnan, Beverly Notestine, Judy Reger, and Jan Smith.

In the 1970s, with Fern Barber’s leadership, the Musicale sponsored a Junior Club, The Glockenspiels, which won state awards and had an outstanding woodwind quintet. In 2007, the Musicale started a Summer Workshop program under the chairmanship of Anne Greenstein. The Musicale has given 25 students full scholarships for piano, opera and strings programs. Through the years, the Musicale has awarded $95,070 in competition prizes and scholarships to attend music programs during the summer. An additional $650 was awarded to students to help music students with their education.

Farmington Musicale concert programs are open to the public free of charge. Featuring classical, American and multicultural music, topics have covered the Great Composers, Orchestra Hall, Opera, Piano and various instruments. During most of the club’s history, there was a chorus under the direction of Judy Reger and accompanist Beverly Notestine. Other community service activities have involved donating a new grand piano to the Farmington Community Library Main Library, participating in fund raising for a baby grand piano at the Longacre House, and donating a Suzuki Violin outfit to the Cultural Arts Department of the City of Farmington Hills.

The Musicale is a founding member of the Farmington Community Arts Council and has participated in all the arts festivals for the City of Farmington Hills. Currently the 56-member club consists of professional musicians, talented and amateur performers, music teachers, a composer and a National Board member for the National Federation of Music Clubs and two South East District Board members for the Michigan Federation of Music Clubs. Many awards were received from the state and national organizations, as well as from the Farmington Area Arts Commission with the Service to the Arts Award.

The Musicale was also honored by the City of Farmington Hills and the State of Michigan for its contributions to the arts in the community.  Scrapbooks of 50 years of memorabilia can be found at the Main Library History Room. Plaques and other awards are stored at the Heritage and History Center in Heritage Park, Farmington Hills.