Students play, sing with KPO this week

Kenai Peninsula students will get a chance to play and sing along with the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra in a set of concerts this week.

Through a program assembled at Carnegie Hall in New York City, elementary school students around the country are learning about music in cooperation with local orchestras. The program, called Link Up, provides program guides, scores, teaching material and multimedia guides to teach students about different aspects of music before they take part in a concert to see it in action.

On the Kenai Peninsula, students learned about melody, rhythm, harmony and the other ways music shifts in a section of the program called The Orchestra Moves. This is the fifth year overall the peninsula’s schools have taken part in the program and the second time they’ve done The Orchestra Moves course, said Tammy Vollom-Matturro, the conductor of the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra.

“We’ve tweaked this quite a bit, so it’s not completely like the one we did three years ago,” she said.

This year, students of various ages from Kalifornsky Beach Elementary School, Kaleidoscope Elementary School, Mountain View Elementary School, Nikiski North Star Elementary School and Soldotna Elementary School will be participating from the central peninsula, and students from West Homer Elementary School, Fireweed Academy and Chapman School will participate from the lower peninsula.

Students have been learning the curriculum of different songs from their music teachers, and Vollom-Matturro has visited the classrooms to go over the music with the students, she said. The students will be playing along with the orchestra to sections of pieces like “The Blue Danube” and “Nocturne” from “A Midsumer Night’s Dream” on recorders, and they will sing sections of pieces like “The Toreador Song” from Carmen.

“It’ll be interesting when you have 200 elementary kids with recorders in their hands but they’re not supposed to play them except at certain times,” Vollom-Matturro said. “…It’s well written because they just play the recorder parts. It works well.”

The orchestra will also play pieces of its own for the audience, such as “Hungarian Dance” by Johannes Brahms and a tribute to John Williams, the film composer famous for “Star Wars,” “E.T.” and “Mission: Impossible,” among other films, she said, with a few other pieces added in.

“I’m adding “The Chicken Dance” because I like it and the kids love it,” she said.

The Link Up program and concert provide the students a chance to learn about music, both in the classroom and firsthand, Vollom-Matturro said. At the concert, the kids will be sitting close to the orchestra, and there will be multimedia projection on the screen to help them follow along both during the pieces they’ll be playing and the ones they are hearing, she said.

“Whether it’s a listening piece or something the kids are playing on, the words are up there, the notes are up there… if it’s a listening piece, there are other things going on to help them know what’s coming up next,” she said. “Some of the slides are animated, so it’s just fun.”

The concert for the lower peninsula schools will take place Friday night in Homer at 7 p.m. at the Homer Mariner Theater. On the central peninsula, the concert will take place Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Kenai Central High School auditorium in Kenai. Admission is free.

Reach Elizabeth Earl at elizabeth.earl@peninsulaclarion.com.

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