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Aiana String Quartet Outreach Event

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On February 15, 2012 the Aiana String Quartet performed in an Outreach Concert sponsored by SACMS. At Clark High School they gave a lively demonstration of a string quartet “in progress” as they are pursuing post-graduate degrees in music under the tutelage of the Miro Quartet at UT Austin. Violinists Roseminna Watson, Hanna Hurwitz, Violist Mario Andreu, and cellist Jillian Bloom led discussion on the use of non-verbal communication in performing music. They explored the art of cuing, eye contact, and body movement. The high school orchestra students were a rapt audience and were obviously well disciplined by their teacher, Teresa Nugyen who is a violist.

American String Quartet Outreach Event

The American String Quartet took joy and music to the hearts of young under-served students on a hot, autumn afternoon in San Antonio. The Youth Orchestras of San Antonio has developed a free after-school program called Music Learning Center on the City’s West Side. It is modeled after El Sistema, a legendary music education program in Venezuela. The Center is located at Good Samaritan Community Services. Over 70 students participating in the YOSA program came to hear the ASQ.

Quartet members talked about their instruments and played movements from the program that they played on the SACMS series opening concert. My favorite was a fugue by Bach arranged by violist Daniel Avshalomov.   Cellist Wolfram Koessel explained that a fugue is similar to a round like Row, row, row your boat.

After the concert violin and cello students unpacked their instruments and played for violinists Peter Winograd and Laurie Carney, and Wolfram Koessel. I observed the interaction with the cellists who sat in a circle and were taught how to hold the bow properly, how to play a scale, and how to make a full sound. Students also played the Dies Irae which is quoted in music for their upcoming Halloween Concert. They got valuable tips from on pros on how to play that theme effectively.

This event was the first we have given for the YOSA Music Learning Center. We applaud them on their endeavor and hope to interact with them more in the future.

Submitted by Allyson Dawkins

Lafayette String Quartet Outreach Events

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On April 4, 2011 the SACMS was fortunate to be able to present the Lafayette String Quartet in two Outreach Events. We started off with a fortifying and traditional breakfast for the quartet at San Antonio’s legendary El Mirador. Then Allyson Dawkins and Ken Bloom drove the quartet to Churchill High School where the quartet played and talked about some of the Elliott Carter String Quartet No. 3. The Carter work represents a landmark in modern string quartet writing that boggles the mind of most professional musicians. It was fascinating to watch the high school aged string students poring over the score of this very difficult work.

Later we all headed over to the Winston School for an afternoon concert. At this event the entire student body was ushered into the school gym where the concert was performed. After the concert which included some explanation, the students were able to interact with the musicians asking questions.

Submitted by Allyson Dawkins

Imani Winds Outreach Event

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On the Monday following their Nov. 14 SACMS concert, the Imani Winds presented an outreach program at Sam Houston High School.  After the group got on stage, four of the musicians went out into the aisles surrounding the 115-student audience and the bassoon player stayed on stage.  Without an introduction, the group played a stirring cannon that brought cheers from the students.  After this the flute, oboe, clarinet and French horn players came back to the stage and started a very interactive program with the students.  They discussed their instruments, their abilities and limitations and demonstrated what they could do.

In addition to the Sam Houston High students, there were students from the three middle schools that feed into Sam Houston.  The Imani Winds are all black and all graduated from public high schools before going to major music schools or conservatories.  We had heard the group on St. Paul Sunday on KPAC, where they stated that one of their goals was to show kids of color that they can succeed as professional musicians.

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During questions from the musicians, the students indicated that very few had heard any chamber music before, let alone a woodwind quintet.  The group played portions of several pieces either written for the Imani or commissioned by them, including a piece written by Imani flutist Valerie Coleman.  The students enthusiastically answered questions from the musicians and indicated that there was a good representation woodwind players in the audience.  Kathy Clay-Little wrote a complimentary column in the Express News on Nov. 19.  We worked with Mr. Bruce Adams, the Sam Houston Band Director in organizing the program.  We thank Kathleen Mansmann of SAISD for her help in coordinating the event.

Lee Trio Outreach Event

The Lee Trio presented an excellent educational concert for the orchestra class at NESA.  Some of the students in the class are composers, thus the first piece played was very welcome to their ears.  It was living composer Nathaniel Stookey’s piano trio which was commissioned by the Lee Trio.  The trio has three movements each of which is a musical depiction of one of the Lee Trio members’ Chinese name.  The students were a model audience –it was so quiet one could have heard a pin drop between movements.  After the concert one student confessed to me that he almost cried during the Stookey.  I found his comment to be honestly refreshing and also interesting since I too found the piece to have some quite sad moments.

Second on the program was a scherzo movement from a Mendelssohn trio – one of the mainstays of the piano trio repertoire – which the trio played impeccably at a scorchingly fast tempo.  They closed with the Primavera movement of Astor Piazzola’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires.  First violinist, Lisa Lee, played delicious and atmospheric glissandi throughout this movement.


All three sisters – Lisa, Angela, and Melinda – answered questions from the students with openness and spontaneity.  There was an intense give and take during the Q&A which was inspiring to witness.

We thank the Lees from the bottom of our hearts for their gesture of generosity in providing this very memorable live educational concert!

Submitted by Allyson Dawkins – Chair, Education Committee

Lark Chamber Artists Outreach Event

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As the Lark Chamber Ensemble began setting up in the Reagan performing arts building, students watched with particular interest as Yousif Sheronick pulled out different percussion instruments. Orchestra and band students streamed in along with an economics teacher and his class. Yousif began the program by displaying what appeared to be a drum and describing how he had acquired it in Cairo, Egypt after a 2+ hour time of drinking tea with the shop owner and negotiating the price. Kathryn Lockwood, violist, introduced each Lark member and described what the audience would hear during Jennifer Higdon’s “An Exaltation of Larks for String Quartet”. Students had been scanning the October 4 SACMS concert programs distributed as they entered and seemed to realize that “different” music would be performed. The Lark played much of the October 4 program, albeit abbreviated. Before each piece was played, a member of the ensemble spoke to the audience about the composer and the music. When Kathryn told them about Daniel Roumain’s “String Quartet No. 5 ‘Parks’ “ also known as “Klap Ur Handz”, she explained that the Lark had commissioned the music in 2006. She asked for their help in placing Rosa Parks in historical perspective, noting that she had grown up in Australia. And then, just as she had done the previous day, she explained this was an interactive piece of music, with the audience needing to clap at many points during the music, albeit with her guidance. The students and teachers present definitely got into the music. Besides clapping during the Roumain work, the audience gave the Lark a rousing round of applause at the end of the concert.

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The Ensemble took questions—and asked questions—dealing with when members of the Lark started playing any instrument and their present instruments, how long they had played together, what instruments the students played, and whether any of them composed music. (Violins dominated and there were student composers.) As the musicians began packing up their instruments, several students came to the stage and spoke individually with them. It was clear that the Lark had touched many individuals in this student audience—a truly interactive concert! Board member Harvey Biskin and his wife, Bayla, enjoyed the concert and commented on the enthusiasm of the audience.

Nancy Taylor Shivers (Twice blessed to have heard the Lark on Sunday and Monday!)

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