ELY – Many years ago, in a small town in east-central Germany, a little girl named Chambriel Ridings lived on an army base where her father was stationed, and she had problems with math. To improve her math skills, her teacher suggested she pick up the recorder—that simple, flute-like instrument that all kids here in America seem to learn at some point in their elementary school years.
Chambriel’s mother, Jackie Ridings, was keen to help her daughter but had no idea where to get a recorder in Germany, so she turned to her mother-in-law in the United States, who sent one overseas to her granddaughter in Grafenwoehr.
“It sounds weird, but it worked,” Jackie said. There was no way of knowing at the time that this was the start of something amazing.
A look back at 2015 when the Army family came back from overseas and lived in Ely. Chambriel’s fifth grade teacher, Darren Visser, noted that Chambriel still struggled with math. He encouraged her family to seek extra help outside of school so Chambriel could avoid tutoring, which would mean having to give up participating in the band.
It was Miss Mason’s freshman year, and she encouraged Chambriel to try the clarinet. “I started playing hot cross buns right away,” Chambriel recalls. “I thought, ‘Oh, that’s easy to figure out!'”
Chambriel continued to play the clarinet even after the family moved again, this time to Rolla, Missouri. Rolla’s band was big enough that Chambriel had to try it, but as soon as the band director heard her play the scale, she said, “Oh my god! I need you.”
Chambriel has been clarinet district first chairman three times and has also competed at the state level. Although she had never taken private clarinet lessons, her skills developed 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 the state competition at the end of her junior year and soon received word that she had made the cut just before Miss Mason left for grad school in the state of Virginia.
Summer vacation came and Chambriel had no music teacher and no high school principal to help her figure out exactly how to perform at Concordia Moorhead College for the State Band Competition, held August 1-5.
Here the village took the lead. Washington Elementary principal Anne Oelke stepped in to oversee the district funding part of the puzzle, while Miss Mason helped with the paperwork on the phone and Mr. Kubiak (the new band teacher, who didn’t technically start his new job until August) in communications was from where he was in Europe in the summer.
In early June, thanks to her state-qualified skills, Chambriel was also asked to audition for the Honors Performance Series, an elite group “created to showcase accomplished individual student artists on an international scale by allowing them to study under and perform under master conductors.” world-renowned venues.”
To save $50 on the Honors Performance Series registration fee, Chambriel had to submit her audition performance by July 5 to meet the early bird deadline. Chambriel practiced non-stop to be ready and used up much of the first half of her summer vacation. “I would get off work and go back to my clarinet,” she said. Chambriel was only able to meet once with Mr. Kubiak, who had just returned from Europe, to get final touches on the audition before she had to send it in. Mr. Kubiak gave her a few notes, which she was working on, then recorded her playing the Rose Etude #10 and sent it in.
Registration didn’t officially close until September 1, and applicants were due to be notified on October 28 if they’d made it through to the next round. Meanwhile, Chambriel was preparing for and performing at the state competition in early August. In September she became the youngest member of the Mesabi Symphony Orchestra (MSO). On October 28th, the day she and her family had been eagerly awaiting news, Chambriel was busy with a dress rehearsal for an upcoming MSO performance. It was a day she will remember for a long time.
At 4pm Jackie received the email that Chambriel had made it to the next round and would be notified within 10-15 business days. However, instead of taking days, the news arrived just four hours later that Chambriel had been chosen to perform at Carnegie Hall. Just a minute or two later, another email arrived announcing that she had been selected to also perform at the Sydney Opera House in Australia.
Chambriel’s audition competed with tens of thousands of other submitted plays at each performance. According to Marion Gomez, Music Director of the Honors Performance Series, “Honors Performance Series selection is something that every finalist should be very proud of.” Gomez notes. “We processed almost 10,000 nominations this year and selected the most talented student artists from around the world.”
Chambriel said she could hardly believe it when she got the news. “I am really looking forward to participating. It’s a dream come true.”
However, it’s a dream that comes with a heavy price and the family, with the help of Ely English teacher Heather Cavalier, is once again reaching out to the community for help by asking for donations and creating a Go Fund Me page .
Chambriel will represent Ely when she joins (according to the press release) “approximately 500 other performers from 48 U.S. states, Bermuda, Canada, China and South Korea for a special performance at the world-renowned Carnegie Hall and Sydney Opera House venues that will culminate.” mark musical achievements. The finalists will gather in New York and Sydney, where they will have the opportunity to learn from world-renowned conductors, collaborate with other artists and get a taste of New York and Sydney. The Honors Performance will take place at Carnegie Hall on February 1-5, 2023 and at the Sydney Opera House on August 1-5, 2023, both 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 making a donation towards this once in a lifetime achievement can do so by visiting Frandsen Bank to make a donation to “Chambriel Ridings” or by sending an Honors Performance Series check on behalf of Chambriel Ridings to the address Ely School: 600 E Harvey, Ely, MN 55731, or online at Chambriel’s Go Fund Me page: https://gofund.me/f1861e70.
If you are interested, learn more about the program by visiting the website at www.honorsperformance.org.