Since hearing her French Horn echo down the halls of the Villa Godiola, Kyra Sims has gone on to create her own musical community in NYC. Kyra is a Fall 2007 Alumna who went on to get her Masters at the Manhattan School of Music. We were able to catch up with her to talk about life as a musician in New York and her community concert series, The Harlem Sound Project.
When did you attend the Accademia?
What did you study there?
What University were you coming from?
University of Kansas
What was your favorite thing about the program?
I liked the size. It was a small community of like-minded people, and I made some good friendships during my time there.
Can you share a favorite memory or story from your time in Italy outside the classroom?
It snowed on our last day in Arezzo! If you think those Tuscan hills are lovely already, imagine them under a few inches of fresh snow. It was enchanting. And cold.
Do you have any “must sees” while in Arezzo?
Oh my goodness the pizza place with the Belgian beer! I can’t remember the name, but I still talk about it, nearly six years later.
What were some of the biggest “take aways” from your time at the Accademia?
Since I was the only French Horn player that semester, I had the opportunity to work on repertoire that I might not have had time for at university. Also because I was the only horn, everything I played was a solo! That really helped with building my confidence as a performer.
What have you been up to since the Accademia?
After that semester I went back to Kansas and finished my Bachelors degree in Horn Performance. I then moved to NYC and did a semester internship in the Education Department at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Later on I started my Masters at Manhattan School of Music, and graduated from that last May. Since graduating I have worn many different hats- besides performing as a freelance musician, I work in the Visitor Services department at Lincoln Center, I am a Teaching Artist for Marquis Studios, and I began my own community concert series called The Harlem Sound Project.
Do you stay in touch with anyone from your class?
I keep up with a few people on Facebook, and I am so proud of what they are each accomplishing in their own lives!
Can you talk more about The Harlem Sound Project? What inspired you to start this organization? What are the goals you still wish to accomplish and what have you accomplished so far?
I began the HSP in May of last year as a way to bring music to the uptown community while also providing performance opportunities for myself and my colleagues. So far I have produced five concerts in Harlem, including a clarinet quartet concert and a Valentine’s Day Cabaret. My next concert, at the beginning of May, will be my largest one yet- it will include a brass ensemble piece by Henri Tomasi, a new chamber work by my friend Steven Snowden, and Stravinsky’s l’Histoire du Soldat.
Here is one of the pieces from a brass quintet concert I booked and performed in back in October. It was in the courtyard of The Chipped Cup, a coffee shop in Hamilton Heights: Gabrielli Canzona Per Sonare
How has the Accademia helped shape who you are as a musician/artist/creator?
Being in such a creative and nurturing environment taught me how to take risks and to enjoy the art that I create. It was also so inspiring to be in a community where the locals enjoyed and appreciated classical music so highly. All of our concerts were very well-attended by people from the surrounding area- not a common occurrence in the United States, sadly. It really gave what I was striving to do with my life some validity, having audiences like that.
What would your advice be for people considering attending the Accademia?
Bring a coat, or plan on buying one- Italy gets colder than you think in the fall! Also, talk to the locals, make friends, explore. Have fun!
In your opinion who is a good candidate to get a lot out of the program?
Anyone with an open mind and an open heart. Someone who works well with others and encourages a harmonious atmosphere.
Anything else you want to add?
Forza Porta Crucifera!
For more information about the Harlem Sound Project, visit their Facebook Page: Harlem Sound Project