Second Graders to Attend World-Class Music Concerts

November 15, 2010
   For the seventh consecutive year, Strathmore opens the doors of the Music Center on November 16, 17, 18 and 19 to more than 11,000 second grade students from Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) who will attend free performances by the National Philharmonic.

   The Strathmore Student Concerts are created in partnership with the National Philharmonic and MCPS. The performances will be led by Maestro Piotr Gajewski, the National Philharmonic's music director and conductor. 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 all 11,617 MCPS second graders, there will be seven daytime performances, Tuesday through Thursday at 10:35 a.m. and 12:15 p.m., plus an additional concert on Friday at 11 a.m.

   The educational concerts are a result of a unique partnership among MCPS, National Philharmonic and Strathmore, which work 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 the GEICO Philanthropic Foundation.  Last month, Strathmore hosted all MCPS fifth graders for performances by the National Philharmonic.

   "The concerts that the National Philharmonic plays for Montgomery County second-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 Maestro Gajewski. "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 seven years, our partnership with Strathmore and the National Philharmonic has opened the doors of the concert hall to more than 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 seventh 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, a concerto performance by the three young winners of the National Philharmonic Concerto Competition and Russell Peck’s The Thrill of the Orchestra. At the performance, the students learn about the four families of instruments that make up the orchestra through interactive conversations with Maestro Gajewski and percussionist Greg Jukes, who for the second year in a row will narrate The Thrill of the Orchestra. 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 elementary 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. Brian Hong, 16, will play the first movement of the Dvorak (1841-1904) Violin Concerto on Tuesday, November 17. He is a sophomore at Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax, Va. Rhea Chung, 15, will play the first movement of the Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) Violin Concerto No. 3 on Wednesday, November 18. Rhea is a sophomore at the Holton-Arms School and resides in Potomac, Md. Shing Ann Yeh, 17, will play the first movement of the Elgar (1857-1934) Cello Concerto on Thursday, November 19. Ann is a senior at Centennial High School in Ellicott City, Md.

   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.

   For additional information, contact:
   - Strathmore - Angela Olson, (301) 581-5194 or
   - National Philharmonic - Deborah Birnbaum, (301) 493-9283, ext. 118 or

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