This article was in the Box Elder News Journal Wednesday June 19, 2013 about my friend and an amazing young woman, Maggie Nawyn. I had the opportunity to be a part of the video she made with Alex Boye and will be performing at the concert tomorrow night – June 22, 2013 at the Christensen Academy in Brigham City.
Calling in a favor
Singer Alex Boye is performing for a Christensen Academy of Music and Dancing fundraiser because of the efforts of Maggie Nawyn, a 13-year-old classical pianist and founder of the Silver Slipper Symphony.
Four years ago, at age nine, Maggie listened to her older sister play the piano and “thought it sounded kind of cool” and that she wanted to “make that kind of noise.” The talent came quite naturally to her and she excelled quickly. Consequently, her mother decided it would be a good idea to have their piano tuned.
The piano tuner heard Maggie play Phantom of the Opera, which she had taught herself, and suggested that she try out for a program taught by Gary Amano, a classical piano instructor at Utah State University.
After she had played only a few bars of her audition piece, Amano stopped her. Feeling dejected and knowing she had just “blown it,” she prepared to leave when Amano congratulated her and welcomed her into his program.
When Maggie was eleven, she went with her mother Lori Nawyn, an author for Covenant Books, to Salt Lake City on a promotional book tour. A true 11-year-old, Maggie quickly got bored, and Mary Nichols from CBS News offered to walk her around the studio.
On their walk, they ran into Alex Boye. He and Maggie talked at length about her interests and ambitions in music and dance. She had a picture taken with him and, as they parted, he said, “If there is ever anything I can ever do for you, let me know.”
Maggie wanted to be part of a symphonic orchestra and finding there were no opportunities for her, she decided to form her own. Largely by word of mouth and simply asking people if they wanted to join, she founded The Silver Slipper Symphony which she named after the Silver Slipper Ballroom. The 1930’s Bluebird Ballroom (where Maggie’s great-great grandparents met) became the Silver Slipper Ballroom which later became the Academy of Music and Dancing in downtown Brigham City.
Because there has been no venue specific for artistic performances within the community, Maggie became actively involved in fundraising for the Academy. She envisions the restored building as the perfect place to showcase music and dance and enhance cultural experiences for the community.
When the Silver Slipper Symphony was preparing for its first concert, she realized they needed an MC. Maggie thought of Alex Boye and his offer. He was contacted and agreed. Boye didn’t remember his visit with eleven-year-old Maggie until she showed him the picture. She said, “The next time you tell an eleven-year-old, ‘if there’s ever anything I can ever do for you,’ you might want to rethink that question.”
Maggie and Boye have become fast friends and he is very supportive of her musical efforts. As part of her involvement with the Academy, she wanted to make a music video and ran the idea by Boye. She got an email from him on April 30 that told her to get ready . . . they would shoot the video the next week.
Miracles do happen according to Maggie. She was able to pull a choir together over a weekend to perform with the orchestra. Choir and orchestra got the music two days in advance. The result is an incredibly moving and reflective “Set Fire to the Rain” which can be viewed on YouTube.
She hopes the video will raise awareness of the Academy. “The Utah art’s industry doesn’t know about the Academy. Even the community doesn’t know about this historical building.”
Maggie will continue to study at USU, while completing high school. She doesn’t think she will need to go out of state to pursue her musical training because many of her instructors are world-renowned and have been educated in places like Julliard. She can get the benefit of their experience without having to be so far from home.
Maggie says, “People look at me and think I’m crazy. But not enough people are willing to do something different and follow their dreams. I’m not special or different from other people, I was just willing to take the step.”
Taking control of your destiny and creating a reality from your dreams knows no age restrictions. A truth that is exemplified by classical pianist and Silver Slipper Symphony founder Maggie Nawyn.