October 15, 2019 —Sept. 11, 2018—In partnership with the University of Maryland School of Music (SOM), Collington is hosting two new graduate students as its 2018-19 Artists in Residence. Melissa Morales and Ria Yang will be living with residents at the retirement community and are currently scheduling student and faculty groups to perform and speak at Collington.
In exchange for room and board, the two students will perform regularly scheduled concerts, teach educational programs and collaborate with residents. A committee of Collingtonians coordinates with Melissa and Ria on opportunities to collaborate for the community choir, jazz ensemble, The Kollington Kats and Sunday afternoon concert series. Their first concert is slated for 11 a.m.–noon, Monday, Sept. 24, in Collington’s auditorium.
Collington residents bid a fond adieu in August to Collington’s first Artists in Residence, cellist Samantha Flores and clarinetist Matthew Rynes. During their tenure, a feature article in The New York Times—titled “Fostering Connections Between Young and Old”—cited the Artists in Residence Program at Collington an innovative example of a mutually beneficial program bringing generations together.
Both new interns are eager to host concerts and create programs to enrich not only the seasoned adults at Collington, but themselves as well.
Melissa Morales is an accomplished clarinetist who has been playing her instrument for more than 18 years. Her interest in music began with singing in a choir in her hometown near New Orleans. She graduated from Louisiana State with a bachelor’s degree in music education and then earned a graduate degree in clarinet performance from DePaul University in Chicago.
Melissa says she is most looking forward to becoming a part of the community and finding the right “rhythm” with the residents. She especially enjoys performing music by major American composers, including Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein and recently, William Thomas McKinley.
Ria Yang, who hails from Quanzhou in southeast China, has lived in the United States since 2011. Her native tongue is Mandarin, and Ria she continues to work on mastering English. The skilled pianist has been playing for 17 years and says she is thrilled to be living in a studio apartment at Collington. “Music brings me great joy, is pure to me and cures whatever is ailing me,” she says.
Ria has a master’s degree in music, with a specialty in piano performance, from Northern Illinois University and is currently working toward a master’s in collaborative piano at SOM. She plans to eventually return to China to perform and teach, but in the meantime, she plans to fine tune her classical music skills along with jazz artistry.