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Fifth Grade Students To Attend BSO Concert at Strathmore

May 5, 2008
Strathmore Student Concert Series Expands to Include All
10,000 Fifth Graders in Montgomery County Public Schools


Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Performs Six Student Concerts in May

On May 7, 8 and 9, 2008, the Music Center at Strathmore opens its doors for the first time to all Grade 5 students from Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), giving them the unique opportunity to attend a performance by the Baltimore Symphony conducted by Carolyn Kuan. Co-presented by MCPS and Strathmore, with support from The Webber Family Foundation and The Wachovia Foundation, these interactive concerts, designed and performed by the Baltimore Symphony, feature music by the late American composer Aaron Copland and an original composition by modern composer Gregory Smith. To accommodate the 10,000 students, six daytime performances are scheduled over a three-day period in the 1,976-seat Concert Hall, two each day at 10:35 a.m. and 12:15 p.m.

This new educational series marks an expansion of Strathmore’s student concert programs. Since opening the Music Center in February 2005, Strathmore has welcomed all MCPS second grade students each fall. With the addition of MCPS fifth graders, Strathmore and the County have demonstrated a commitment to provide world-class music education experiences to the County’s youngest residents. These concerts also mark the return of the class of students who attended the first concert at the Music Center in 2004, before the building opened to the public in February 2005.

"I am thrilled that 10,000 fifth grade students are returning to Strathmore to reinforce the outstanding musical experience they had as second graders," said Superintendent Jerry D. Weast. "MCPS is proud to partner with Strathmore and the Baltimore Symphony in helping to nurture a new generation of individuals who understand and enjoy orchestral performance."

“The gifts from the Webber Family Foundation and The Wachovia Foundation allow Strathmore to present world-class performing arts experiences to Montgomery County Public School students. By giving children access to live performances, we allow them to explore their creativity and foster music appreciation that can last a lifetime,” said Eliot Pfanstiehl, President & CEO, Strathmore.

Since becoming a founding partner at the Music Center at Strathmore in 2005, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has enriched the Montgomery County area with world-class performances and educational outreach programs including youth concerts, master classes and its innovative “BSO on the GO” in-school workshop program. Vice President and General Manager Kendra Whitlock Ingram notes that, “Exposure to a live classical music experience can be a powerful influence for a 10 or 11 year old and the BSO is proud to share in that experience with every public school fifth grade student in the county. Characteristic of all of Gregory Smith’s educational programs, Mr. Smith’s Composition draws the students into the narrative, helping them gain critical listening skills by the end of the 40-minute program. Our music director Marin Alsop, who commissioned the work, says it best, ‘It is difficult to find a work that is entertaining, educational and musically satisfying. Mr. Smith’s Composition is all of these things.’”

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra concert program highlights the works of Aaron Copland, one of the great composers of the 20th century, best known for his incorporation of popular forms of American music into his compositions such as jazz and folk music. The program includes Fanfare for the Common Man, excerpts from “Dance” from Music for the Theatre, El Salón Mexico, Variations on A Shaker Melody, and Hoedown from Rodéo. The program’s main component will focus on the compositional process, illustrated for the students using Gregory Smith’s original work, Mr. Smith’s Composition. Students will learn how to listen for and identify musical themes and techniques, and gain a better understanding of how composers communicate their ideas through a range of instrumental and vocal timbres.

To enhance the educational opportunities presented during the concert, teaching materials were designed by the Baltimore Symphony, in conjunction with the Maryland Music Educators Association and MCPS, for teachers to use in preparing their students for the performance. These materials are available to the teachers online at BSOkids.org and include a lesson plan for the instructors to teach students about Aaron Copland, composer/conductor Gregory Smith and various compositional techniques. Recordings will also be sent to Montgomery County instructors to prepare the students for the music they will later hear performed by the BSO.

The Strathmore Student Concerts with the Baltimore Symphony will be held May 7, 8 and 9, 2008 at 10:35 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. in the Concert Hall of the Music Center at Strathmore. The Music Center is located at 5301 Tuckerman Lane, in North Bethesda, MD, immediately adjacent to the Grosvenor-Strathmore station on Metro’s Red Line.

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