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Moved by the music, moving in the music

Feb 27, 2018

To slightly re-write an old joke, that was told about getting to Carnegie Hall:

Five students from each of the participating schools, including all five Chester County elementary schools, were selected to perform on stage with the orchestra.

Some young musicians found themselves lost in Charlotte.

Late for a concert at the Blumenthal, one asked a passerby:
"Excuse me, how do you get to the Belk Theater?"
Without breaking stride, the passerby replied: "Practice, practice, practice."
A large group of Chester county students had been doing just that, and on Friday, their practice got them to the Belk Theater to play their recorders along with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra.
The students from all five Chester County Elementary schools joined students from Chester County, Mecklenburg County in North Carolina and students from Charlotte Preparatory Academy as part of the Link Up program administered by Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute. Hundreds of symphony orchestras across the globe host similar Link Up programs for students who may have never had a chance to see a live orchestra, let alone play with them.

The Chester students were moved by the music in more ways than one.
The special program of music was entitled "The Orchestra Moves", and students learned about movements as the term applies to a piece of music, music that could move you emotionally, the movement of their fingers as they played, music that changes as it moves from one tempo to another and even music that they could move their bodies to.

The Springs Close Foundation provided the transportation to the venue and the soprano recorders that every child clutched as they filed into the impressive hall that is the Belk Theater inside of the Blumenthal Center.

On the stage waited the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Assistant Conductor Christopher James Lees, who conducts at all the Symphony's educational programs and the Lollipops series of concerts. The Orchestra Moves program was narrated and emceed by Charlotte public radio personality Frank Dominguez. Five students from each Chester County elementary school auditioned for the privilege of being seated on the stage with the orchestra during the program, as well as students from the other schools who participated in Friday morning's concert. At total of 3,000 students would take part in the Link Up program that day.

"Throughout the year, music teachers are provided with curriculum-based education resources, so they're teaching their students throughout the whole year up until this performance. They learn certain pieces of music with the recorders; some physical movements and they work closely with their teachers and other students. This is the culmination of that education. They sit in their audience chairs and they play their recorders along with us, and they sing and dance," said Virginia Brown, director of communications for the Charlotte Symphony.

"I think it's so much fun for these students, to feel like you're part of something, which is the way Carnegie Hall designed it. It's not just 'come up here, sit, listen, here's Beethoven and here's a lecture about it,' this is the student as part of the music-making experience," she said.

The musical compositions that the students had a chance to listen to performed by the orchestra ran the gamut from a lively Brazilian tune to Beethoven's famous Fifth Symphony with the stern four-note ♫dit-dit-dit-daaaah♫ beginning, said to represent Fate knocking on the door. The students followed along with their recorders on Mendelssohn's Nocturne from "A Midsummer Night's Dream".

The performance also included dancers and vocalists from the Northwest School of the Arts and a surprise visit by an opera singer, who led the audience in a rousing version of "The Toreador Song" from Bizet's Carmen, and even took off his coat to imitate the actions of a bullfighter, a toreador, while he was singing.

Mary A. Deissler, President and CEO of the Charlotte Symphony, said she thought the students got something from this performance that perhaps, many of them had never experienced before.
"All of the basic academic stuff is important, they have to read, they have to do their math, but creativity and expression is so important to them. I think every child has a right to have a little beauty and a little bit of creativity in their life.

"So many of these kids have probably never picked up an instrument, never played a recorder, never sang along (they may have been told they didn't have a good voice). This program allows everybody to participate, and there's just a feeling of joy. Joy is a really important thing for kids in our schools, especially right now, don't you think?" Deissler said.

For the students, all too soon, the concert was over, and they had to file back on their buses and head back to their schools, and while they may not have made it all the way to Carnegie Hall, they could now brag they had performed with a real symphony orchestra. And yes, it did require some practice.

By Bryan Garner, Chester Online

Original story here.