Youth Concerts Take Class Act Students on Magical Journeys with Symphony Musicians and Mozart
Pacific Symphony Pops 2017-18 promises a season so bright with stars, music and fun that audience members may need their sunglasses! Led for the 27th year by Principal Pops Conductor Richard Kaufman, the season includes seven heavenly More than 14,000 excited children recently poured through the doors of the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall to attend the ever-popular Youth Concerts—part of Class Act’s culminating activities. For the 22nd year, Pacific Symphony, in partnership with Orange County schools and parent volunteers, brought quality music education to elementary school children through the Frieda Belinfante Class Act program. The Youth Concerts, interactive performances designed for students in grades two and higher, are presented each year to draw together and emphasize musical concepts learned throughout the Class Act year via a featured composer’s music. This year, students learned about classical music through Mozart and them theme, “Magical Journeys."
Making Class Act extra special are the Symphony musicians who serve as teaching artists and bring a wealth of talent, knowledge and experience to the program. The Symphony’s education director, Jonathan Terry, says: “During the year, the students have seen their Class Act musician as a soloist during the Prelude Assemblies and lessons, as a chamber music musician during the Family Nights, and now they get to see them as part of the orchestra during the Youth Concerts. Throughout the year, students learn what it’s like to be a musician and all about the pieces included in the concert. The concerts give them the opportunity to then hear the pieces presented live in the concert hall."
This year, the Symphony reached nearly 16,000 students across 32 Class Act schools. Activities included Prelude Assemblies for entire student bodies, hosted by a professional actor who introduces students to their musician and the year’s theme and composer. Classroom lessons followed, presented to each grade level and taught by Symphony musicians focusing on the year’s composer and theme, as well as providing details about the musician’s instrument and career. Family Night ensemble performances are then presented at each school by a Symphony quintet, led by the school’s musician and featuring his/her instrument.
“The concerts reinforce what is taught during the other Class Act events and tie together what the students have learned about the composer and theme,” says Terry. “They are very interactive; For two of the pieces, students were asked to submit artwork for display during the concerts that were responses to the pieces they heard earlier in the year. During ‘Rondo Alla Turca,’ the students were led in creating the form movement for each of the different sections. Of course, they all love seeing their Class Act musicians as they are announced and cross the stage. The students loudly applaud and cheer as their musician is called. I enjoy hearing their reactions as they cheer and after each piece clap along, sing along and create the form to the rondo!"
This year’s concerts included actors and a storyline written by scriptwriter/director Rani O’Brien. Students were able to see and hear their musician perform within the orchestra. Led by Assistant Conductor Roger Kalia, the program featured excerpts from Mozart’s “The Magic Flute Overture,” “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik,” Symphony No. 40, the Papageno/Papagena duet from “The Magic Flute,” “Rondo Alla Turca” and “The Abduction from the Seraglio Overture.” They also heard music from other composers they had learned about in Class Act: Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade,” Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King” from “Peer Gynt,” and John Williams’ “The Raiders March” from “Raiders of the Lost Ark."
“The concert was so good, and I LOVED sitting in the front row!” exclaimed Zō Burley, a third grader at Oak Grove Elementary School. “My favorite part was when the flute turned into one of the characters. My favorite character was Alex—she was really good. My favorite music was ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King.’ I’m going to play it at home right now!"
Carrie Villanueva, manager of education says: “It’s always exciting to see hundreds and hundreds of students arriving for each concert! For the younger ones and new schools, this is sometimes the very first time attending a symphony concert of any kind. You can see the excitement on their faces as they look up at the towering concert hall and feel the anticipation of what it’s going to be like inside. It’s fun to see them all dressed up for this special occasion—it’s no ordinary field trip! Sometimes even more fun is seeing them afterwards, as they hum songs or mimic some of the interactive elements from the concert as they head back towards their buses!” Following the concerts are Bravo assemblies, where students demonstrate what they have learned over the course of the program, officially calling an end to another Class Act year.