10,000 MCPS Students to Attend Concerts at Strathmore

November 13, 2008
For the fifth consecutive year, The Music Center at Strathmore opens its doors on November 18, 19, and 20, 2008 as all Grade 2 students from Montgomery County Public Schools have the opportunity to attend a performance by the National Philharmonic conducted by Maestro Piotr Gajewski at the concert hall. The Strathmore Student Concerts are created in partnership with the National Philharmonic, with support from the Montgomery County Public Schools. 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 more than 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 among MCPS, National Philharmonic and Strathmore, working together to provide the coordination, pre-concert educational materials, transportation, and other support to present these outstanding musical performances for students in one of the nation’s premier concert halls. The concerts are supported in part by GEICO.

“The concerts that the National Philharmonic plays for Montgomery County 2nd grade students are the most important concerts that we play every year. For most of the students in the audience, it is the very first time that they are hearing a symphony orchestra,” said Piotr Gajewski, Music Director and Conductor of the National Philharmonic. “How well they like the concert may determine whether they yearn for another symphonic experience right away or whether years go by before they have another exposure. This is an awesome responsibility for us on stage.”

"For each of the past five years, our partnership with Strathmore and the National Philharmonic has opened the doors of the concert hall to 10,000 second grade students," said MCPS Superintendent Jerry D. Weast. "This has been a tremendous opportunity for these young children to begin a lifelong appreciation for orchestral music."

“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 fifth 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 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 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 are 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 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. Rhea Chung, 14 years old, will play the first movement of Vieuxtemps’ (1820-1881) Violin Concerto No. 4 in D minor on Tuesday, Nov. 18. Rhea is a freshman at the Holton-Arms School and resides in Potomac, MD. Lauren Song, 16 years old will play the third movement of Paganini’s (1782-1840) Violin Concerto No. 2 in B minor on Wednesday, November 19. She is in 11th grade, resides in Potomac, MD and goes to Walt Whitman High School. Josh Chik, 17 years old will play the third movement of Bruch’s (1838-1920) Concerto Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor on Thursday, Nov. 20. Josh lives in Rockville, MD and is in 12th grade at Richard Montgomery High School.

The concerts with the National Philharmonic will be held November 18, 19, and 20 at 10:35 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. in the Concert Hall at 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. For more information on the Music Center, visit or call (301) 581-5100.

Soloist Biographies:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Rhea Chung

Rhea, a freshman at the Holton-Arms School, started the violin at the age of four and currently studies with Professor James Stern. She serves as co-associate concertmaster of the American Youth Philharmonic and concertmaster of her school orchestra. She has won first prizes in the Joseph and Goldie Feder, Cogen Concerto and Marlin-Engel Competitions and played at Carnegie Hall this year as a winner of the American Fine Arts Festival. She has performed in master classes with Midori, Jaime Laredo, Sharon Robinson, the Arianna String Quartet and Nicolas Kendall.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Lauren Song

Lauren Song began studying the violin at age five at the Peabody Preparatory, where she is currently enrolled in the Pre-Conservatory Violin Program and studies with Rebecca Henry. Lauren has won numerous competitions and awards and has performed in many master classes for the prominent violinists. She also performs frequently in concerts and recitals and currently serves as concertmaster of the Peabody Sinfonietta, co-concertmaster of the MCYO Philharmonic and concertmaster of the Walt Whitman Symphonic Orchestra.

Thursday, November 20, 2008
Josh Chik

Josh, who began studying violin at the age of 4, made his solo debut with the Florida Young Artists Orchestra at the age of 10. He has served as concertmaster for the Julius West Middle School Orchestra and the Richard Montgomery High School Symphony. He has also won several local music competitions, including the 2007 Jack Weaver Memorial Competition. Josh currently studies with Professor Adrian Semo.

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