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Talents merge at Youth Movements

Duncan Cumming believes children are never too young to gain an appreciation for classical music.

That's one of the central ideas behind the second Youth Movements Festival from Nov. 12 to 15 at the UAlbany Performing Arts Center on the uptown campus. Cumming put together the inaugural festival last year with the idea it would just be a one-time thing, but people were asking what I was going to do next year, he said.

A University at Albany professor, Cumming is a pianist who has performed around the world. He also plays at home, making up music to accompany the stories he reads to his three young children.

That idea of linking children and music runs throughout the Youth Movements schedule. The festival kicks off with a violin and piano recital about children on Thursday night, followed Saturday by a ballet not only for children but performed by children. Dancers from The School for Creative Arts will stage Claude Debussy's ballet "La Boate Joujoux" (The Toy Box), and on Sunday, youth of all ages will perform on piano.

Thursday's violin and piano recital will feature Cumming and his wife, Hillary, a fellow professor. The two used to perform together often, but they took a break from that when they started a family, as one usually stayed home with the children. These days, they have a little more time to perform together, making up two-thirds of the Capital Trio.

Their children, meanwhile, have followed in their creative footsteps, with both of their girls taking dance classes at The School for the Creative Arts. When Cumming had the idea to perform "La Boate Joujoux," he thought immediately of the girls' teacher, Jackie Abbott, and not simply because he was familiar with her and her work.

"I think she does a terrific job," Cumming said. "She loves what she does. I find myself a kindred spirit with her."

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