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Grade 2 Students To Attend Concerts at Strathmore

November 9, 2007
Fourth consecutive year of program emphasizes dedication to music education

Concerts on November 13-15 to Feature the National Philharmonic and Three MCPS Student Soloists

North Bethesda, MD -- For the fourth consecutive year, The Music Center at Strathmore will open its doors on November 13, 14, and 15, 2007 as all Grade 2 students from Montgomery County Public Schools will have the opportunity to attend a performance by the National Philharmonic conducted by Maestro Piotr Gajewski at the concert hall.

Co-presented by Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), National Philharmonic and Strathmore, these interactive concerts feature a program especially assembled for second graders that includes music by American icon Leonard Bernstein, Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos and others. To accommodate the over 10,000 students, there will be six daytime performances, two each day at 10:35 a.m. and 12:15 p.m., over the three days in the 1,976-seat Concert Hall.

The educational concerts are a result of a unique partnership between MCPS, National Philharmonic and Strathmore, working together to provide the coordination, pre-concert educational materials, transportation, and other support to present this outstanding musical performance for students in one of the nation’s premier concert halls. The concerts are sponsored in part by a gift from Montgomery County residents Carolyn and Jeffrey Leonard.

“Of all the concerts I lead at Strathmore, or anywhere else in the world through my guest conducting engagements, the concerts for Montgomery County second grade students are the most important performances I conduct. Over a period of three days, it is my pleasure to introduce the possibilities of orchestral sounds and music's power to touch the hearts of 10,000 future lawyers, doctors, scientists, engineers, government leaders, and yes, musicians. What higher calling can there be?” said Piotr Gajewski, artistic director and conductor for the National Philharmonic.

"Our second grade students truly experience ‘the thrill of the orchestra,’ thanks to our partnership with Strathmore and the National Philharmonic," said Superintendent Jerry D. Weast. "The performances provide a wonderful introduction to the concert hall for these young children."

“Strathmore has become not only a destination for great performances, but a location for high-quality music education. Through the free concerts for all Montgomery County Public School second graders, now in its fourth year at Strathmore, we hope to protect and advance arts opportunities for future generations,” said Eliot Pfanstiehl, President & CEO, Strathmore Hall Foundation, Inc.

The concerts will feature Bernstein’s Overture to Candide, Villa Lobos’ Little Train of Caipira, Russell Peck’s The Thrill of the Orchestra (Mr. Peck will narrate), and a concerto performance by three young winners of the National Philharmonic Concerto Competition. At the performance, the students will learn about the four families of instruments that make up the orchestra through interactive conversations with Maestro Gajewski and composer Russell Peck. Using image magnification, a large screen will highlight individual musicians discussed while various pieces are being performed.

To enhance the educational opportunities presented during the concert, teaching materials were designed by the National Philharmonic in conjunction with MCPS for teachers to use in preparing their students for the performance. These materials were distributed in October and included a lesson plan for the instructors to teach students the words and some accompanying movements for “The Berry Pickers Song” from Villa-Lobos’ The Little Train of Caipira. During the concerts, the children will sing and perform the movements as the orchestra plays.

One of the important goals of the concert experience is to allow the second grade students to listen to young musicians who can be role models for the grade school students. The three winners of the National Philharmonic Concerto Competition held in October were chosen to perform a different concerto movement for each day. Chao Xue will perform the first movement of Oboe Concerto in C Major by Mozart on Tuesday, November 13; violinist Max Li will perform Zigeunerweisen by Pablo Sarasate; and violinist Kenneth Liao will perform Violin Concerto No. 3 by Camille Saint-Saëns.

Soloist Biographies:

Chao Xue, oboe
Rockville, MD
12th grade, Montgomery Blair High School

Chao Xue, a senior in Blair High School's Magnet Program, is recognized as an outstanding oboist by All-State and All-Eastern ensembles. His accolades include second place in the 2007 Friday Morning Music Club Winds Competition, and finalist in both the 2007 Army Orchestra Concerto and the 2007 Navy Band Competitions. He has twice served as the principal oboist with the National Festival Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, and since 2005 he has been the principal oboist for MCYO Philharmonic. He currently studies with Lorrie Berkshire-Brown; his other teachers and mentors include Stephen Churchill and Rebecca Henderson. Aside from musical activities, he has most recently entered his Alzheimer's research in the Siemens Westinghouse Competition and the Intel Science Talent Search.

Chao Xue will play the first movement from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Oboe Concerto in C Major on Tuesday, November 13.

Max Li, violin
North Potomac, MD
12th grade, Thomas S. Wootton High School

Max Li, 17, is a senior at Thomas S. Wootton High School. He began studying the violin at the age of six with Suzuki Shoji in Japan. Max moved in the United States one year later and began studying with Jeremy Yin, Judy Silverman, Jody Gatwood, and Holly Hamilton. He currently studies with Adrian Semo and is a part of National Symphony Orchestra Youth Fellowship program. He is the concertmaster of MCYO Philharmonic, 2007 National Festival Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, 2007 Maryland Senior All-State Orchestra, and 2005 Maryland Junior All-State Orchestra. In his free time, Max enjoys playing table tennis competitively.

Maxi Li will play Zigeunerweisen by Pablo Sarasate on Wednesday, November 14.

Kenneth Liao, violin
9th grade, Winston Churchill High School
Potomac, MD

Fourteen-year-old Kenneth Liao began studying violin at the age eight. He is currently a student of Jody Gatwood; his other string teachers include Kelly Hsu, Judith Silverman, and Elisabeth Adkins. Kenneth is a freshman at Winston Churchill High School, Potomac, MD where he is the co-concertmaster of the Symphonic Orchestra. He has previously served as the concertmaster of MCYO Symphony Orchestra, and is currently enrolled in the MCYO Philharmonic. Kenneth has won the Washington Performing Arts Society String Competition several times, as well as the Asian American Music Society String Competition. In addition to the solo and orchestral activities, he is also active in playing chamber music.

Kenneth Liao will play Violin Concerto No. 3 by Camille Saint-Saëns on Thursday, November 15.

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