October 21, 2016

Strathmore partners with Montgomery County Public Schools, Library of Congress, local artists to re-envision annual education program to be experienced countywide by more than 11,000 fifth graders


Strathmore has re-envisioned its annual Strathmore Student Concerts, a hallmark education initiative that has impacted nearly 125,000 students. The Blues, the art center’s first self-produced educational concert, was designed in close collaboration with music-education leadership of Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), the Library of Congress, and local blues experts. The entirely new multimedia blues program will be premiered for about 12,500 5th graders from October 25-28, 2016.

The Blues is unveiled as Strathmore celebrates the genre in the season-long exploration, Shades of Blues. Through more than 25 concerts and events as prismatic as the genre itself, the blues will be celebrated in all of Strathmore’s presenting spaces.

For the first time, the general public can also enjoy the Student Concerts, typically only offered to MCPS students, at Primary Blues: Blues 101 for Families, a ticketed performance on Thursday, October 27, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.

In reimagining its program for 5th graders, Strathmore collaborated closely with key partners and led the creative process to craft a highly-customized experience that better complements evolving MCPS curricular goals, while leveraging the talent of local musicians, historians and music directors.

“The Strathmore Student Concerts have been a cornerstone of our educational mission since they were launched in 2004. We’re proud that for the first time, we’ve mined our own artistic resources and vision to create and deliver a show stopping original production,” said the art center’s Director of Education Lauren Campbell. “By reimagining this hallmark outreach event, Strathmore is doing what it does best: bringing professional artists into a shared musical space with the community, and featuring amazing local musicians while we’re at it.”

Performed by topflight alumni of Strathmore’s Artist in Residence program and guided by an emcee, The Blues hones its focus on this quintessentially American genre, focusing on a wider variety of blues music, with emphasis on authentic, original, and early blues songs. The program shows a linear evolution of blues, from its early, simpler instrumentation to more recent forms that include amplification, brass and winds, and more musical texture. The Blues also prominently features icons such as Muddy Waters, Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, and B.B. King—featured in the concert repertoire and in stronger multimedia elements to engage students in a more immersive way, including archival audio and video.

Students are also engaged through call and response with musicians, as well as interactive demonstrations of characteristic elements of blues, such as its stylistic 12-bar chord progression, lyric structure, and improvisation. In its totality, the new program creates rich context for the blues as a foundational element of American music, clearly connecting it to rock ‘n’ roll, jazz, hip-hop, and R&B. Strathmore has also created an online library of education materials for students and teachers, bringing even more longevity to the concert experience.

The 5th grade student concerts represent a more than $100,000 investment in public education, with sponsorship provided by GEICO and Jordan Kitt’s Music.

The annual Strathmore Student Concerts for Grade 2 students will continue to focus on classical music, in alignment with MCPS curricular goals. Those concerts will be held in November.



Tuesday through Friday, October 25 through 28, 2016
Two performances daily, from 10:45-11:30 a.m. and 12:25-1:10 p.m.
Students arrive approximately 45 minutes prior to each concert      

Primary Blues: Blues 101 for Families (public performance)
Thursday, October 27, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets $5 - $15



Music Center at Strathmore
5301 Tuckerman Lane
North Bethesda, MD 20852



Strathmore: Mike Fila, (202) 636-3503,
Montgomery County Public Schools: Gboyinde Onijala, (301) 279-3853,

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