Depressed by Covid-19? If you instantly want to feel better, go to Childrensmusicworkshop.com and click on the concert “Playing Through a Pandemic,” presented by the All Schools Elementary Honor Orchestra.
Starting with the “Radetzky March” by Johann Strauss, Sr. (arranged by Richard Meyer), I felt my body keeping time with the 100 instruments as the piece raised my mood and I instantly felt happier.
How good could an orchestra comprised of elementary school students be?
Check it out, the music is really surprising and fabulous, given these are mostly fourth, fifth and sixth grade students. In addition to “Radetzky March,” students also played “Ashokan Farewell” by Jay Unger (arranged by Bob Cerulli), “Peer Gynt Suite Selections” by Edvard Grieg (arranged by Richard Meyer) and “Thunder and Lightning Polka” by Johann Strauss (arranged by Richard Meyer). I found myself going to the first song and listening to it over and over again to rid myself of the negative feelings I had encountered reporting on several news stories last week.
One student summed up the music, “It goes into your ears and then goes into your heart and stays there.”
Pacific Palisades resident Larry Newman, the founder of Children’s Music Workshop, which brings instrument instruction into local elementary schools, has annually hosted an All Schools Elementary Honor Orchestra.
The concerts, which feature youth from two dozen Los Angeles-area elementary schools, are usually held in Schoenberg Hall at UCLA and are generally sold out. Newman and his son Tyler, who has done a masterful job of producing and editing this virtual concert, have won five Emmys in the Children/Youth programming category for recordings of those concerts.
Annually 100 of the most exceptional students are chosen to perform and for the 2020 concert, after selection, the weekly rehearsals began in January. When schools closed in March, rehearsals went online. When it became apparent the spring concert would not take place, rehearsals still continued, until the August 16 concert premiered on YouTube.
If you have participated in a Zoom meeting, you know how hard it is to get the audio and video of several people trying to talk at the same time and the sound still be intelligible. Newman was asked how this incredible performance was accomplished. He told Circling the News that each student recorded and downloaded their part. Tyler edited the parts together and the result is unbelievable.
“The orchestra kids not only persevered, but excelled,” Newman said.
One student said in the video, “Thank you Mr. Newman for still having the concert during Covid.”
In addition to the music, some of the students have short videos explaining why they like playing an instrument. One boy said, “I am not fast in improving, but music has helped me realize that it’s actually easier to improve if you have a good routine.”
Another girl said, “You can make mistakes and that’s okay. It’s better to make tons of mistakes and get through something than quit after you make one mistake.”
Students who participated from local schools are:
Jake Bryant and Hanna Shin (violin), Hannah Campbell, Eve Matteson and Anna Telehowski (flute), Max Palmer, Hunter Sheer and Connor Telehowski (clarinet).
Jack Johnson (flute) and Levi Langen (trumpet).
KENTER CANYON CHARTER:
Lyla Brugger, Claire Burrell and Ryan Hajmomenian (violin), Lexi Burrell and Ella “Matilda” Temer (flute), Ethan Greenberg and Rowan Morrison (clarinet), Sarah Hajmomenian (cello) and Zack Fields (trumpet).
Isabella Acosta (flute), Katelyn Chang, Amelia Halpin and Maira Reyes (violin), Abigail Yoda, Paul and Carl Lunkewitz (alto saxophone), Brett Rosenblatt (trumpet/sax) and Lars Refnes (clarinet).
Rhys Grandy, Barry Tabachnikoff, Isabella and Abigail James (trumpet), Natalie Redd, James and Cole Wood (violin), Zoey Morris (flute) and Julien Reger (alto sax).
PAUL REVERE MIDDLE SCHOOL:
Maia Baserga-Rudd (flute)
Soren Cohen (trumpet), Thalia Frost and Sophia Penzias (violin) and Kai Parsavand (clarinet).
One student explained on YouTube, “If I didn’t play music I don’t know if I would be me.”
Another said simply, “Music makes me feel better about myself.”