Orchestra performance promises a treat for audience, youngsters

The Kenai Peninsula Orchestra, in conjunction with Carnegie Hall, will present a concert that includes elementary students from Redoubt and Kalifornsky Beach Elementary Schools.

It will be the first time KPO has co-performed with elementary students, KPO’s Artistic Director and Conductor Tammy Vollom-Matturro said.

The free concert will begin Saturday at 2 p.m. in the Kenai Central High School Auditorium. KPO and students from the McNeil Canyon Elementary School will play an additional concert Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Homer Mariner Theatre.

Vollom-Matturro, who has been training the McNeil Canyon students, said it has been an “amazing experience.”

“The kids seem to really enjoy it,” she said. “They’re learning a ton about music and having a really good time doing it.”

There will be about 50 members of the KPO and about 180 children from the two elementary schools at the Kenai-based orchestra.

The concerts are a result of Link Up, a 28-year program of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, which pairs orchestras with elementary-aged students across the country “to explore orchestral repertoire through hands-on curriculum. Students participating in Link Up perform in a culminating concert where they sing and play recorders with the orchestra, according to a press release from KPO.

Nationally, the program serves approximately 185,000 students and teachers.

Sue Biggs, KPO concertmaster and music teacher at Redoubt Elementary, and Jeanne Duhan, horn player and music teacher at K-Beach Elementary School, have been preparing their students in singing and playing.

Additionally, nine members of the Homer Youth String Orchestra Club are learning to play music with the orchestra.

The link up was a “vision” of Debbie Piper’s, a visual arts and second grade teacher at McNeil Canyon.

When she heard about Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute seven years ago, she thought: “Well, how can we do this?”

“I know this is got to be good,” she said about the concert seven years ago. “Kids need music — I know the brain research behind how important music is for brain development.”

So she assembled about 30 local musicians — high school students and KPO musicians alike — and arranged a concert in McNeil Canyon’s gym.

“And it was wonderful,” she said. “It was delightful. It was a great experience for everybody.”

Now, she is hoping this weekend’s performances will be better.

Homer News contributed to this report.

Dan Schwartz can be reached at daniel.schwartz@peninsulaclarion.com

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