Music students get ‘tuned in’

Guest conductors Amelia Gold, at right, and Rachel Lauber joined participants from the middle and elementary school Tuning In To Music program prior to their performance in the 2013 Strings Festival Orchestra held on Jan. 18 at Greenwich High School. Clockwise from top right: Mariya Tesla, Lucas Montesinos, Kennedy King, Armin Ohadi, Emil Purdue, Luis Quisumbing, Carlos Flores and Marina McGuire.

Guest conductors Amelia Gold, at right, and Rachel Lauber joined participants from the middle and elementary school Tuning In To Music program prior to their performance in the 2013 Strings Festival Orchestra held on Jan. 18 at Greenwich High School. Clockwise from top right: Mariya Tesla, Lucas Montesinos, Kennedy King, Armin Ohadi, Emil Purdue, Luis Quisumbing, Carlos Flores and Marina McGuire.

Eleven students enrolled in the Greenwich Alliance for Education’s Tuning In To Music (TITM) program were recently selected as members of the Greenwich Public Schools 2013 Strings Festival Orchestra.

Now in its seventh year, the Strings Festival gives local elementary and middle school students a unique enrichment experience to collaborate with other high-achieving string students from across the district during four rehearsals, culminating in an evening concert showcasing their work. The concert was held at Greenwich High School on Jan. 18.

Three middle school and eight elementary school students enrolled in the program and were nominated to participate in the annual town-wide music ensemble by their school’s orchestra teachers.

The nominated students have mastered the grade level expectations for their instrument according to Bethany Cook the orchestra director for the Greenwich Public Schools and director of the festival orchestra.

“The Tuning In To Music students are able to advance their musical skills and knowledge in a one-on-one setting, which not only allows them to keep up with their peers, but in some cases, to go above and beyond,” Ms. Cook said. “We are so fortunate to have this type of outreach program in our town — it’s truly, a hidden gem in our public schools.”

The aim of the TITM program is to open doors for deserving music students by providing them with free music lessons and exposure to new opportunities. This year’s 80-student elementary school orchestra showcased their talents by playing a variety of challenging music ranging from Pachelbel’s classic Canon in D to pop icon Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror. Each piece was enjoyed by parents, friends and local music supporters in the audience.

Two accomplished conductors led the evening’s performances. Amelia Gold, a well-known conductor, violinist, and educator in New Jersey, led the elementary school orchestra. Ms. Gold, known for using a bit of humor, ad-libbed to Michael Jackson’s lyrics to reenergize the children during the long rehearsals. One elementary school violinist characterized Ms. Gold’s verse as “wacky.”

At the concert, Ms. Gold spoke passionately about the arts in education. “Arts is not extra in a child’s life; each child needs the arts to grow,” she told the audience. Ms. Gold thanked parents for “supporting the most important cause of any cause” and said that young children need this exposure to feed their creativity. “Inspiration comes from these special experiences that the kids can take and grow from and inject into other parts of their lives,” she said.

Rachel Lauber led the 65 middle school musicians. Ms. Lauber received her doctorate in orchestral conduction at the University of Michigan and has served as a conductor internationally.

One of the Greenwich Alliance for Education’s signature programs, TITM is now in its seventh year of providing private and semi-private music lessons with professional teachers from the Connecticut School of Music to students who otherwise could not afford them.

Since its inception, more than 200 students have taken on the challenge of furthering their musical education, and several TITM graduates are now participating in Greenwich High School’s nationally renowned music ensembles.

The Greenwich Alliance for Education is an independent, not-for-profit, tax-exempt education foundation whose mission is to mobilize community resources and services that foster educational success for all Greenwich Public School students.

For more information about the Alliance call 203-340-2323 or visit Greenwichalliance.org.

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