String Quartet Gives Students Live Lesson

California Chronicle
April 24, 2009

It was the first time 11-year-old Vanessa Monterrosa had heard classical music live. She sat in the center of the front row -- the best seat in the 1,200-capacity auditorium at Edison Preparatory School -- mesmerized by the sound coming from the four string musicians playing right in front of her. "I think it was wonderful," the Remington Elementary School fifth- grader said after the performance. "I was very, very surprised."

Students from Addams, Chouteau, Eugene Field, Kendall-Whittier, McKinley, Remington and Robertson elementary schools, Holy Family Catholic School and KIPP Tulsa College Preparatory received a concert and music lesson Thursday from the Cypress Quartet, which is based in San Francisco. The group is the first to perform in the musicians-in-residence program, sponsored by Chamber Music Tulsa and the Barthelmes Conservatory.

The string quartet will work one-on-one with high school and college music students Friday and then will perform for the public Saturday at Booker T. Washington High School auditorium.

Violinist Tom Stone said the group formed 13 years ago with the goal of playing music all over the world. In the process, the members learned the group also could teach students about classical music and to appreciate it.

"Chamber Music Tulsa understands the future of this type of music requires it to connect to the young people," Stone said.

Thursday's concert may have been the first live classical music performance the students have heard, said Rose McCracken, executive director of Chamber Music Tulsa, and Aida Aydinyan, executive director of Barthelmes Conservatory.

Aydinyan hopes outreach programs like Barthelmes and Chamber Music Tulsa will nurture future musicians and arts patrons.

"Music should be an important part of education," she said. "If you want to see arts appreciation later on, you have to expose them early."

The schools that participate in the musicians-in-residence program receive materials to use in the classroom in addition to attending the performance or seminars.

"It's not just one thing, there are so many components," Aydinyan said. "We don't want a one-time event where they come and listen and then leave. We want something that will sustain. Make it much more meaningful."

The musicians said they enjoy sharing their music with students.

"There's always an electricity when you play in front of students," Stone said. "It's like being able to give a kid their first ice cream cone."

"Inspired by America"
Who: Cypress Quartet, a string quartet based in San Francisco
Where: Booker T. Washington High School auditorium, 1514 E. Zion St.
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
For more: Call Chamber Music Tulsa at 587-3802
Sara Plummer 581-8465