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MOSC ensembles offer a musical tour - Odessa American: ECISD

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MOSC ensembles offer a musical tour

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Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2019 2:59 pm

Members of the Lone Star Brass quintet, West Texas Winds and Permian Basin String Quartet entertained fifth graders, gave a history of their instruments, showed what they could do and played some music at the Odessa High School Performing Arts Center.

Thursday’s edition featured the Permian Basin String Quartet with Amy Huzjak on cello; Sarah Cranor on violin; Nathan Southwick, subbing in on second violin; and Han Dewan on viola.

The musicians said their instruments come from all over the world and some of them are quite old dating back to the 1700s. The music they played was from all over and they travel far and wide for performances.

Southwick said that because they are all similarly trained, can read music and practice diligently, they can usually play together, even if they don’t know each other well.

ECISD Fine Arts Specialist for Elementary Shari Riley said 800 to 900 students attended concerts Tuesday through Thursday. That covers all the fifth-graders in the district. Riley said students have been intrigued by the fact that these are professional musicians.

“… It’s good exposure for the kids to see that there is a path to fine arts performance and teaching opportunities, as well. Also, this is the age in fifth grade when they start thinking about the electives they’re going to join in middle school,” Riley said.

“For some of them, this is their first exposure to some of these instruments and this program is wonderful in that it’s not just a performance,” she added.

The musicians entertain, but they also answer questions. They coordinate with the Midland-Odessa Symphony and bring the ensembles in as they are available, Riley said.

“… It’s just a good experience for the students to have the exposure to the instruments,” Riley said.

She noted that it takes a lot of organization to bring all the students to the OHS Performing Arts Center.

“There’s a plan in place. It takes a lot of people working together — all the principals and staff at each elementary school and the transportation — so it takes a lot of people working to get them here, but we all think it’s worth it for them,” Riley said.

The hope is that the event will encourage students to seek out more music performances, but also that when they go to middle school they’ll remember this experience, how they liked a certain instrument and that they might want to try it. 

“Another thing I really love is the opportunity for our students in the district to see the performing arts center here at Odessa High School. It’s a beautiful facility and not every campus has auditoriums, even, and so this is our premiere performing facility for ECISD. It’s great that the kids get to come hear the performance on this campus and see this facility,” Riley said. 

“Usually I talk a little bit to them about the pride we have in this (the OHS Performing Arts Center) and that we take care of it, how many performances occur here and that it’s a popular place to perform,” Riley added.

Tied into that is that concert and performance etiquette are part of the state standards in music education.

“All of the students have been extremely well behaved over these three days. I’m very proud of them and I know they’re teachers and principals would be as well. They’ve done exceptionally well,” Riley said.

Murry Fly Elementary School fifth-graders Jeremiah Campos, 11, and Aidan Ooppapan, 10, enjoyed themselves. They both liked that the violin can mimic different instruments, sounding like a flute, for example. 

“I thought it was very good and they performed the best they can. If I would have been up there, it would have been pretty scary,” Campos said.

“I think they did really good performing and that even if you don’t know people that you’re performing with, you can still trust them to play along with you,” Ooppapan said.

Dewan said the ensemble performs in Odessa and Midland for elementary students to give them a chance to hear the instruments. With exposure to the different groups, the students are able to hear all the instruments they’ll have a chance to choose from before they start band or orchestra.

“It’s so much fun to share this with young people,” Huzjak said. 

Dewan added that it was fun to select music outside of what they might normally play at a recital. For this outreach concert, they played music from South America up to Mexico and Texas for a little Orange Blossom Special.

“I think a lot of people think of classical music as sort of old and European and so one of the main goals that we have in all these outreach concerts is to make it as inclusive and as diverse as possible to show that anybody can do it, because anybody can,” Southwick said. 

Odessa, TX

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