Pin It
Favorite

Sandpoint Takes the Fifth 

by Jane Fritz & r & At a school assembly when I was in fifth grade, a woodwind quartet introduced us to classical music. The magic of that concert only lasted 50 minutes, but it awakened in me a lifelong love for listening to classical music and a desire to express myself within the creative arts.


So it should not surprise me that watching the mesmerized faces of fifth-grade boys and girls from Farmin-Stidwell Elementary School in Sandpoint last spring would bring tears to my eyes. After all, Maestro Gary Sheldon and an outstanding ensemble of 14 regional classical musicians were playing the powerful first movement of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony as part of a special outreach concert brought to the school by the Festival at Sandpoint. Even teachers and the school principal, Ann Bagby, looked amazed.


Reaching more than 800 fifth-graders in Bonner and Boundary counties, including home-schooled students, the goal of the educational outreach program is to foster an interest in listening to and playing music as students advance into sixth-grade band or choir.


Verne Windham, director of the Spokane Youth Orchestra and classical music host on KPBX Spokane Public Radio, as well as one of the French horn players in the ensemble, provided some context for the music before the orchestra played.


"Beethoven took four notes and turned it into everything important he wanted to say with this music by having every individual in the orchestra say something important," Windham explained to the students, while musicians demonstrated with their instruments. When the oboe player stepped forward and said that she hadn't said everything she wanted to say, Windham invited her to continue playing. She blew a very long clear note, taking everyone's breath away.


With the proper context set, the ensemble performed the entire first movement of Beethoven's monumental composition built around those famous four notes: da-da-da-DA.


The students also learned something about music making from the perspective of soloists. Caitlin McSherry of Sandpoint played a portion of Beethoven's violin concerto. She is concertmaster with the Outreach Orchestra as well as with the Spokane Youth Orchestra and a superb violinist who attended the FAS Outreach Program in Sandpoint as a home-schooled student several years ago.


Of all the instruments in the orchestra, the Farmin-Stidwell fifth-graders especially seemed to enjoy the woodwinds, featuring Rhonda Bradetich on her solid-gold flute and smaller wooden piccolo, along with 16-year-old Jim Sandberg, a home-schooled student from the Spokane area and a very talented clarinetist and composer.


Sandberg also introduced the students to the concept of variations on a musical theme with several of his own orchestrations. Using Beethoven's "God Save the King," he involved every member of the ensemble. Students recognized it as America's version of the music, "My Country 'Tis of Thee"; but they likely never heard it played quite the way young Sandberg orchestrated it. He garnered huge smiles and enthusiastic applause when soloing with his lively clarinet while the string musicians plucked their instruments pizzicato behind him.


Sheldon also entertained several intelligent questions from the children about music-making and conducting, and could have answered several more had there been more time, but the class period was nearly over. So he concluded the concert by inviting six boys and girls to join the orchestra team on a variety of percussion instruments. They followed the conductor's lead perfectly playing the rhythm and beat while the orchestra played Beethoven's "Turkish March."


Tammy Belzer-Gunter, music teacher at Farmin-Stidwell, was elated. "Most of these kids only hear classical music through radio, TV or CD, and for them to be engaged in a live performance is so awesome," she said.


The Festival at Sandpoint hopes the students will share that awe with their parents and other family members, so that listening to classical music becomes a family affair. To encourage them, the Festival board members presented a voucher to each child redeemable for three free tickets and additional reduced-fare tickets to the Festival's August 14 Grand Finale Concert at Memorial Field along Lake Pend Oreille in Sandpoint. It will feature Sheldon conducting the Spokane Symphony Orchestra and, of course, Beethoven's remarkable Fifth Symphony.


Verne Windham wagers that these 50 minutes with Beethoven planted many musical seeds that will surely grow. "We have a multi-age orchestra -- and that includes kids who were sitting in these various schools eight years ago as fifth-graders who are now brilliant, young musicians in the Spokane Youth Orchestra or in college. So we have the complete continuum -- from listening to the music to making the music to becoming great artists -- all happening in one place."


As for me, coming full circle with the musical experience, it was like being a kid again.

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Age of Zaycon
  • Age of Zaycon

    Spokane Valley's Zaycon Fresh found a way to make millions selling meat — and now it's trying to make a lot more
    • Aug 26, 2015
  • Hazy Days of Summer
  • Hazy Days of Summer

    Smoke blankets the region; plus, Patty Murray on the proposed Iran deal
    • Aug 26, 2015
  • Brick by Brick
  • Brick by Brick

    Development continues in downtown Spokane; here are some construction projects that could change the city's urban core
    • Aug 26, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu
Earl Kettleson Night Tournament

Earl Kettleson Night Tournament @ Franklin Park

Sat., Aug. 29, 6 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Manufacturing Fear

    Spokane's Republican sheriff says members of his own party are dangerously dividing people
    • Aug 12, 2015
  • Hopeless for Heroin

    As heroin deaths continue to rise in Washington state, what can a parent do to save a child from the depths of addiction?
    • Jul 29, 2015
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

Briefs


marijuana


Comment


Publisher's Note


BUSINESS


© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation