The Daily Southerner
Tuesday morning’s North Carolina Symphony concert in Edgecombe Community College’s Keihin Auditorium was not your typical concert, as fourth- and fifth-grade students comprised the audience, and audience interaction was a major component of the performance.
After each song, Symphony Conductor Al Sturgas asked the children “musical trivia” questions, such as:
“Which percussion instrument do you carry with you every day?” One student guessed the right answer – “Your hands.” At that time, all the students in the auditorium began clapping their hands in harmony. Cameron Leibich, a fifth grader at G.W. Carver Elementary School, learned something new during the concert.
“The strings that they use to play the violin are made out of [horses’] hair,” he said. Liebich also learned that not every classical piece sounds like Tchaikovsky’s dreamlike waltz from “Sleeping Beauty” (one of the songs the symphony performed Tuesday). His favorite piece was Igor Stravinsky’s “Dance of the Young Girls,” which has a rough, dissonant sound.
Sturgas also paused multiple times during the symphony’s performance to introduce the children to the different types of musical instruments in the symphony, from the tuba to the violin.
“I liked the violins—the way they sound,” said Brock Tinney, also a fifth grader at Carver. When asked if he planned to join a symphony orchestra one day, Tinney seemed skeptical.
“It looks hard,” he said.
Twelve Carver students did have the opportunity to perform Tuesday. They played the xylophone under the direction of Becky Johnson, in a special rendition of “North Carolina Is My Home.” The other students in the auditorium later joined the orchestra in singing the song.
“We think it’s important that young people are exposed to the symphony,” said Ronnie Ellis, past-president of the Edgecombe Chapter of the North Carolina Symphony. “To see the faces of them when they’re leaving, how excited they are, means a lot.”
Ellis said the symphony performs for students in the Edgecombe County Public Schools year after year.